Opposition leader Adrian Delia was handed a full copy of the Egrant inquiry report after an appeals court on Monday morning ruled that he had a right to receive it.

The decision brought to an end a saga stretching back to July 2018 when the inquiry by then Magistrate Aaron Bugeja was concluded.

At the time the prime minister and Attorney General Peter Grech had only released the conclusions of the report. The prime minister had said that he had no objections to the report being published, but the AG held back, pending further investigations. He argued that the report contained details about private persons who had nothing to do with the case, and matters which could prejudice further criminal investigations.

Dr Delia subsequently launched court action for a full copy of the report. In May a court turned down his request, but Dr Delia appealed.

The report on Monday was handed to Dr Delia by the Attorney General's office,  although there had been initial fears about the AG invoking a legal right that allows him to delay for up to two days.

Dr Delia had warned that any delay would be in contempt of the court and called for the AG to "resign now." 

The inquiry followed claims by late blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia that the prime minister's wife was the ultimate beneficiary of funds deposited in a secret Panama company called Egrant. Dr Muscat and his wife had strongly denied the claims. Dr Muscat subsequently appointed the inquiry, which concluded that there was no evidence to back the claims. 

Chief Justice Joseph Azzopardi read out the final part of his lengthy judgment in a brief court sitting on Monday morning. The court was also composed of Mr Justices Giannino Caruana Demajo and Anthony Ellul.  

The court did not order the Attorney General to publish the full report but granted Delia the right to a full copy. 

In its decision, the court said that in the particular circumstances of this case, Dr Delia was being hindered in the performance of such duties by being denied a full copy of the Egrant report and thus being kept in the dark.

Just as the AG had trusted the Prime Minister to act responsibly and not publish the report, so also he was to trust the Opposition Leader in handling the report “responsibly and using it only for the purpose of carrying out his duties.”

The court said that the AG in not handing a copy of the report to Dr Delia had “upset the balance between the constitutional powers of the state,” thereby casting aside one of the measures of control envisaged by the Constitution “to check the executive power of the State.”

Consequently, whilst agreeing with the AG that the Egrant report was not to be published in its entirety, the court reversed the earlier decision by the First Hall, Civil Court denying Dr Delia a copy of the report, but not of all the records of the magisterial inquiry relative to that report.

In reaching this decision, the Court also noted that the AG had made the full copy available not only to the Prime Minister but also to his personal lawyer and the Justice Minister.

Moreover, the report had also landed in the hands of the Chief Communications Officer, and three cabinet ministers who cited parts thereof that had not featured in the published conclusions.

This meant that the Opposition Leader had suffered a breach of rights since he had been wrongly discriminated against on account of his political office and thus merited a full copy of the report by way of a judicial remedy.

Dr Delia immediately walked to the  AG's office to get his copy. After a brief meeting, he said he was being denied immediate access to it.

Dr Delia speaking before he was handed a copy of the report.

Dr Delia initially told the media that the Attorney General had invoked a legal right to execute the court sentence after two years. However, in a statement, the PN said the legal right the AG was invoking was to delay the matter by two days. 

According to article 256 of the Code of Organisation and Civil Procedure, judgments are enforceable two days after delivery. 

Dr Delia said the AG, in a premeditated manner, was continuing to perpetuate the current situation in Malta.

Lawyers Vincent Galea, Errol Cutajar, Janice Chetcuti and Andre Portelli appeared for Dr Delia. 

Law Commissioner to advise on report's publication

Meanwhile, the government has tasked Commissioner of Laws Judge Antonio Mizzi to analyse the judgment handed down by the Constitutional Court and advise on whether the entire report can be made public without prejudicing investigations and while protecting the details of the people who were mentioned in the report when they had no relation to the case. 

It said that while the Attorney General would give a complete copy of the report to Dr Delia, according to the judgement this report could not be made public. 

 

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