Updated 9pm - Added PL statement

Nationalist Party MP and shadow minister Jason Azzopardi has been told to retract the statement "Owen Bonnici lied to parliament" by speaker Anġlu Farrugia. 

The speaker told Dr Azzopardi that if he retracted the phrase, he would consider the case closed. If not, he would take "further steps". 

But the retraction will not happen, with Dr Azzopardi first tweeting "Forget it. I will not cower, nor bow" and subsequently issuing a statement saying he would be appealing the ruling and urging Dr Bonnici to "grow up and stop using parliament as a kangaroo court."

Dr Azzopardi had made the initial remark on Twitter, in relation to a report about the commission being paid to Henley and Partners for its role in the Individual Investors Programme. 

Minister Bonnici had subsequently filed a breach of privilege complaint, saying the statement was unacceptable and untrue. 

In his ruling, the speaker said that Dr Azzopardi had failed to refer to the minister's evidence before the Public Accounts Committee, where it emerged that the commission was not only due on the initial €650,000 investment. This was also evident from the regulator’s annual report, the speaker said. 

In a reaction issued by his ministry, Dr Bonnici said he was satisfied with the speaker's ruling.

"Dr Bonnici had tabled documents and transcripts proving [that he had not lied] and that Dr Azzopardi was misleading," the ministry statement read.

"Minister Bonnici hopes that this decision will encourage Azzopardi to grow up and stop his constant, baseless mudslinging," the ministry added.

'Same old arrogance' - PL 

Dr Azzopardi's refusal to accept the Speaker's ruling was symptomatic of the "same incredible arrogance" he and his party displayed when they were in power, the Labour Party said in a statement reacting to the ruling. 

"Jason Azzopardi and the PN Opposition are showing that they only agree with this country's institutions when they rule in their favour," the PL said. 

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