Updated 1.36pm, adds Dr Sant's tweet

Education Minister Evarist Bartolo has admitted he regrets not taking a stronger position in 2016 when the Panama Papers scandal involving former chief of staff Keith Schembri and Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi first broke. 

In another early-morning Facebook post, the seasoned minister said that looking back, he now considers not taking a stronger position at the time was “one of his biggest political mistakes”. 

“I should have not just believed what I had been told – that we will be learning from the experience and that we will not have a government that is stronger behind the scenes than it is on stage,” Mr Bartolo wrote. 

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The Education Minister has been regularly taking to Facebook to share his views amid the fallout from the investigation into the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

In Thursday’s post, Mr Bartolo laments on the comments he had made at the time the Panama Papers scandal first broke. The Panama Papers had revealed at the time that both Mr Schembri and Dr Mizzi had opened secret offshore companies.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat refused to dismiss either of the men. He had merely stripped Dr Mizzi of the health and energy portfolio but kept him as a minister within his own office. 

At the time, Mr Bartolo had called for the resignation of Dr Mizzi, however, when a vote of no confidence had been taken against the then-minister, he had voted against it. He never gave an explanation for why he did this despite publicly saying Dr Mizzi should have stepped down. 

'Evarist and I worked to convince a divided group' - Godfrey Farrugia

Reacting to Mr Bartolo statement, MP Godfrey Farrugia, who was still sitting on the government bench at the time, told Times of Malta together with the Education Minister he had tried hard to "convince a divided group". 

"We were mislead in 2016 and we took the Prime Minister and Konrad Mizzi's  word for it. I have publicly stated many times that I regret having voted in favour of Dr Mizzi.  

"The vote was imposed on by the whip as a parliamentary group," he said.  

Hardcore most scarred by upheavals of past week - Alfred Sant

In a tweet, MEP Alfred Sant, a former leader of the Labour Party, said that the real Labour hardcore was hardworking, trustful, law-abiding and prudent.

This, he said, was why the hardcore had been the most scarred by the upheavals of the past weeks.

Labour MP, long-time PM friend speaks out

Labour MP Glenn Bedingfield, a long-time friend of outgoing Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, also spoke out on Thursday. 

In a Tweet early on Friday, Mr Bedingfield said the Labour Party “is not responsible for the acts of some individual/s”. 

“Any alleged wrongdoing must be shouldered by those who are responsible. Our values do not concur with such actions,” he said, without mentioning any names. 

Among those who 'liked' the Tweet was former OPM spokesman Kurt Farrugia.

 

Reacting to Mr Beddingfield's comment, PN MEP Roberta Metsola told the MP he is responsible for "protecting and defending them when you knew the truth".

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