Good afternoon. This blog will be reporting live from the European Court of Justice (ECJ), which is about to hear the case instituted by former European Commissioner John Dalli against the European Commission.

Live coverage: Dalli VS Barroso

The event has now ended, here is a transcript of the live coverage.
  1. 14:16 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli's family taking their seats in the court room.

  2. 14:16 pmMark Micallef

    The court’s press handlers are expecting a full house today. They made special arrangements to make sure they can meet all the requests for journalists to be seated in the press room.

  3. 14:17 pmMark Micallef

    As many as 40 journalists could be covering the event… the sort of press attention not seen here since a huge case involving Microsoft in 2006.

  4. 14:17 pmMark Micallef

    Others are taking their seat in the gallery. Among them two MEPs Jose Bove and Bart Staes, who have been following the Dalligate affair since the beginning and who are mostly critical of how the Commission handled it.

  5. 14:19 pmMark Micallef

    Both Dalli and Barroso are scheduled to testify. The former Maltese Commissioner will go first.

  6. 14:25 pmMark Micallef

    Other witnesses will be Johannes Laitenberger - Barroso's head of cabinet – the equivalent of the politician’s private secretariat. Luis Romero Requena – director of the Commission’s legal service. There will also be Joanna Darmanin, Dalli's former head of cabinet and Frederic Vincent, his former spokesperson

  7. 14:25 pmMark Micallef

    Officially, Dalli is asking the court to establish that he was sacked over the Commission’s version that he resigned, and to declare this move illegal and consequently award symbolic compensation of €1.

  8. 14:28 pmMark Micallef

    A five-judge panel will hear the case, with the president being the chief of the general court, Marc Jaeger himself.

  9. 14:30 pmMark Micallef

    The big question today is whether the judges will entertain the line that Dalli has been pushing when he claims to be the victim of a conspiracy or whether they will stick to the basic questions they have before them: Was he sacked? And if he was, was this legal?

  10. 14:37 pmMark Micallef

    Judges have entered the courtroom

  11. 14:38 pmMark Micallef

    Whether or not they do entertain Dalli's line. He might still capitalise from the show factor. Barroso has fair his share of adversaries and quite a lot of the interest in today's hearing is driven by this and the powerful position he holds - he will be stepping down at the end of his mandate in four years. This is the sort of attention, he most likely will not relish.

  12. 14:38 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli taking the witness stand

  13. 14:39 pmMark Micallef

    Judge asks Dalli to make a statement regarding the various declarations made on 16 October 2012, when he steps down and the circumstances surrounding it.

  14. 14:40 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli says that on 11 October his chief of staff informed him of the meeting on 16 October and said there was no set agenda and informed him that she had to cancel an appointment he had in Luxembourg to make this meeting happpen.

  15. 14:41 pmMark Micallef

    On 16 October he arrived at Barroso's office in time at 1:30 but was told it was postponed. He was aware of the Olaf investigation but was not aware it had been concluded

  16. 14:42 pmMark Micallef

    "After the usual salutations, the President took a cardboard file from the centre table and told him: this is the Olaf report. Things are not nice, we have problems, your position is not tenable"

  17. 14:42 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli says he immediately asked Barroso to see the document but that he refused.

  18. 14:42 pmMark Micallef

    He insisted and Barroso started reading from the covering letter attached to the Olaf investigation report.

  19. 14:43 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli breathing heavily as he speaks

  20. 14:44 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli says he could not understand because the letter itself stated tha there was no proof that he was in any way involved in this alleged request for money. He also read out that the Tobacco Directive was not affected and that no money changed hands.

  21. 14:44 pmMark Micallef

    However, in all its wisdom, Olaf concluded that there was unambiguous circumstantial evidence that I was aware that this bribe request was made.

  22. 14:45 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli says he kept insisting on having a copy of the report during the meeting.

  23. 14:46 pmMark Micallef

    "I want to make it a point that if it were up to the Commission, we would not have this report in had to this day. I would not know what I have been sentenced about."

  24. 14:47 pmMark Micallef

    "When I did see the details of this report. I realised there were two meetings. The first one with Thomas Hammagren from Phillip Morris. It is true that I met him and there was Silvio Zammit. I met him at a hotel in Gozo where I was holidaying. I went to meet him in my swimming trunks because I was on holiday".

  25. 14:48 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli reads from a report written by Hammagren after the meeting in which he defines Mr Dalli's position as being firmly in favour of public health.

  26. 14:49 pmMark Micallef

    Then there was a second meeting with a Maltese lawyer Gayle Kimberley. Again, he reads from an email she wrote the meeting, in which she said that she was no representing Swedish Match.

  27. 14:49 pmMark Micallef

    She was not a registered lobbyists and Olaf hid this claim by Kimberley herself that she was not representing Swedish Match

  28. 14:50 pmMark Micallef

    This is an example of how the facts were manipulated to come to a pre-determined conclusion whereby I would have to go.

  29. 14:51 pmMark Micallef

    I am aware that Barroso is empowered to sack me. He suggested that I should take the honorable way and step down.

  30. 14:51 pmMark Micallef

    But I asked to be able to have some time to consult a lawyer.

  31. 14:52 pmMark Micallef

    "I asked for 24 hours. He simply looked disdainfully at his watch and said you have 30 minutes".

  32. 14:52 pmMark Micallef

    I continued debating against this for an hour trying to explain that his decision was very wrong and that its consequences would be very harmful for me and my family as they are.

  33. 14:54 pmMark Micallef

    If he were a good manager, wouldn't he prefer to have both feet on the ground and obtain the Supervisory Committee's review of this investigation before making this investigation? Did he know he had a very week stand? What was all this speed for? In fact, the Tobacco Products Directive Ended up being derailed again.

  34. 14:54 pmMark Micallef

    At the end of this meeting with this situation it was clear that I had to leave.

  35. 14:55 pmMark Micallef

    I come from a system in Malta where if the Prime MInister tells you to go, even by a simple sms, you have to go.

  36. 14:56 pmMark Micallef

    At this point, Dalli says Barroso's chief of cabinet was called in and he told them he resigned. But he insists that one has to appreciate the context he has just described.

  37. 14:57 pmMark Micallef

    Again, breathing very heavily, Dalli continues: "I spent 90 minutes debating this fact and that this is a bad decision. Barroso said my time is running out, I have to go. I have to speak to your Prime Minister and he had two statements prepared."

  38. 14:58 pmMark Micallef

    At this point, Dalli said he contacted his family. When he went back to the office he found a missed call from former Prime MInister Lawrence Gonzi. It was a brief phone call in which he told me that Barroso had simply told him that he had stepped down.

  39. 14:59 pmMark Micallef

    The statement is over, Dalli will now be asked questions.

  40. 14:59 pmMark Micallef

    The court's Rapporteur Nicholas James Forwood.

  41. 15:00 pmMark Micallef

    The judge asks about the two options presented to Dalli by Barroso.

  42. 15:00 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli says the options were you either resign or I will sack you.

  43. 15:01 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso came in the meeting with a definitive decision that I will be terminated. the only question was about the form.

  44. 15:03 pmMark Micallef

    To be the bottom line was that I would finish from the Commission in disgrace and my integrity would be totally trodden upon. These were not options these were excuses. he purposely did not give me the report. He purposely did not give me the agenda for the meeting. They purposely denied me legal advice.

  45. 15:04 pmMark Micallef

    Judge asks if he was given 30 minutes before or after he was asked to resign.

  46. 15:04 pmMark Micallef

    There was no question abut this being a voluntary resignation. I spent 90 minutes fighting, Dalli insists. I asked for 24 hours and he said 30 minutes

  47. 15:05 pmMark Micallef

    The judge points out that Dalli earlier said that he wanted 24 hours to choose between the options he had before him

  48. 15:06 pmMark Micallef

    I quite understand what you are saying. The choice was unfair because you did not have the information. But as a politician you should understand the distinction between choosing to resign or being forced to resign

  49. 15:06 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli retorts: my death sentence was pronounced and executed.

  50. 15:07 pmMark Micallef

    Judge Forwood asks did you say anything to Mr Barroso before his staff entered the room to indicate which option you would like to go for?

  51. 15:08 pmMark Micallef

    Did you say anything such as: "Okay I will go under protest or force me".

  52. 15:08 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli says I did not say it was voluntary. i did say i would go but in the context of this forceful meeting.

  53. 15:09 pmMark Micallef

    Judge Forwood refers to what happened after Mr Barroso's officials entered the room. According to the Commission, you did not disagree with the statement produced to the effect that you have resign. Would you agree that is correct, the judge asks.

  54. 15:10 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli tells him, I made this statement and adds that he asked for the resignation to be put in writing but then adds that he did not sign it.

  55. 15:11 pmMark Micallef

    Judge Forewood: When Mr Romero brought this paper to you it suggested that your resignation was voluntary.

  56. 15:11 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli says: That is why I did not sign it.

  57. 15:11 pmMark Micallef

    Forewood: Wasn't it clear there was a misunderstanding?

  58. 15:12 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli: Listen, when you have the President of the Commission pushing for your resignation, it's not a question of misunderstanding.

  59. 15:12 pmMark Micallef

    Forwood: When the statement was presented what was your reaction?

  60. 15:13 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli: I wanted to issue a press statement and was not given the opportunity by my staff and they told me they had been instructed not to assist me.

  61. 15:13 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli: At that point I gave a statement to the press.

  62. 15:15 pmMark Micallef

    Forwood points out that in the evening he was interviewed on TVHemm during which he was asked whether he had stepped down or had in fact been sacked. (Judge passes a copy of the transcript to Dalli)...

  63. 15:16 pmMark Micallef

    Forwood points out that Dalli said he does not stay where he is not wanted and that he stepped down to have a free hand.

  64. 15:17 pmMark Micallef

    Forwood says it seems that at the time you were unwilling to say you were forced to resign which is what you are saying now.

  65. 15:17 pmMark Micallef

    Forwood: The interview goes on because he (presenter Norman Vella) clearly didn't understand your answer and asks, did Barroso ask you to resign?

  66. 15:18 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli says as a politician he could not stay where he was not wanted.

  67. 15:18 pmMark Micallef

    Judge Savvas Papasavvas takes the lead.

  68. 15:19 pmMark Micallef

    Papasavvas: you did not try to leave the meeting to have more time to understand the situation?

  69. 15:20 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli: No, I don't feel that was the right thing to do.

  70. 15:20 pmMark Micallef

    Papasavvas: When you left the meeting what was your feeling?

  71. 15:20 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli: I was left with the impression that I was sacked.

  72. 15:22 pmMark Micallef

    The Commission's defense lawyer takes the floor and asks if he recalls that the press statement was read out to him.

  73. 15:22 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli says he does not recall.

  74. 15:23 pmMark Micallef

    The lawyer reads from the statement given in Parliament by Lawrence Gonzi.

  75. 15:24 pmMark Micallef

    In which Gonzi said that in the phonecall he received, Dalli told him he was stepping down to be able to defend himself. "Is this the case? or is your memory perhaps a bit blurred and you want to correct some of the statements you just made?" he asks

  76. 15:25 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli says that in this phonecall, it was Gonzi who told him that he received a phonecall from Barroso. Dalli says he told him that it was a fact that he had been terminated and it stopped at that.

  77. 15:26 pmMark Micallef

    "I don't want to go into the relationship between Barroso and the Maltese Prime Minister".

  78. 15:26 pmMark Micallef

    Mr Dalli's lawyer objects to the tone of the question by her colleague and takes the floor.

  79. 15:27 pmMark Micallef

    She asks Dalli if he thinks he was faced with a done deal.

  80. 15:28 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli says the decision had been made, no matter what arguments he brought. I am a manager more than a politician and I make decisions on information. In this ambush, this information was hidden from me.

  81. 15:29 pmMark Micallef

    Lawyer asks if Barroso had said he lost political confidence in him or whether he referred to the reputation risks of the case to the Commission.

  82. 15:30 pmMark Micallef

    No matter what I said was relevant. This was a situation similar to that of 2004 when the Prime Minister you referred to earlier (Lawrence Gonzi) sacked me on the basis of a report whose author (Joe Zahra) was sent to prison.

  83. 15:31 pmMark Micallef

    Some context: Joe Zahra was jailed in 2005 for fabricating a report which alleged that Mr Dalli had taken kickbacks in relation with Mater Dei tenders. It was all fabricated.

  84. 15:31 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli steps down from the witness stand.

  85. 15:33 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso takes the stand.

  86. 15:33 pmMark Micallef

    Judge Jager asks Barroso to make his statement.

  87. 15:34 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso. I can say at the very beginning that Mr Dalli resign of his own volition and has done it in the most "unambiguous" manner.

  88. 15:35 pmMark Micallef

    "It was my job to protect the Commission. Let me start by saying that the meeting of October 16 was not the first about this issue. The first was 25 July. I was explicitly asked not to speak to Dalli but when this was lifted before the summer recess, I had a meeting with him.

  89. 15:36 pmMark Micallef

    I wanted to make sure that if something had to come out during the summer the Commission would be able to react.

  90. 15:37 pmMark Micallef

    I emphasised the importance of this issue and he said to me he would take legal action against all those involved. He never got back to me on that.

  91. 15:37 pmMark Micallef

    Mr Barroso says he read out the conclusions of the Olaf report repeatedly.

  92. 15:38 pmMark Micallef

    He points out that the meetings Mr Dalli attended with tobacco lobbyists where all concluded by Mr Silvio Zammit, his friend and former canvasser.

  93. 15:39 pmMark Micallef

    It is in this context thhat the meetings happenned and the man who was brokering these meetings.Olaf concluded that Mr Zammit then asked for this bribe.

  94. 15:40 pmMark Micallef

    I confronted Mr Dalli with this and the conclusions of Olaf that there was unambiguous circumstantial evidence that he was aware.

  95. 15:41 pmMark Micallef

    I asked Mr Dalli to react. Dalli accepted that it was imprudent for him to have these meetings. I could not understand how he could have these bizarre meetings thousands of miles away from the commission. Without any officials being present. And these meetings being organised by a bar or restaurant owner.

  96. 15:41 pmMark Micallef

    It was clear to me that his position was untenable. I am a lawyer by training and to me the presumption of innocence is vital but this is about political implications.

  97. 15:42 pmMark Micallef

    I told Mr Dalli to resign voluntarily and added that if he would not I would make him under the provisions of the treaty.

  98. 15:43 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso: Dalli asked for 24 hours. I could not, because if there were leaks I would not be able to accept that.

  99. 15:43 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso:This happens in national governments too. Rightly or wrongly. Politicians resign to be able to clear their name and not to tarnish the name of the institution they work for.

  100. 15:44 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso: This was not about a normal employee but about a top official who is accountable to the people.

  101. 15:45 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso: He said that this was very difficult for him. And because there were a lot of these circular arguments, I pointed out to him that he was stepping down voluntarily. And he accepted that.

  102. 15:46 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso:I called in my officials and at that point read out the statement that was leter issued. It was clear the statement said he was stepping down. At no point did he contest this in front of two other people.

  103. 15:47 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso: I completely lost confidence in Mr Dalli like anything in my long career

  104. 15:48 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso: It was unthinkable for him to continue as commissioner. It was a matter of common sense that a prolonged investigation would cast a long shadow on the Commission. Especially as he was preparing to deal with such a complex legislation - Tobacco Directive

  105. 15:49 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso: After this I spoke to Mr Gonzi and this was the very first time I spoke to him about the case.

  106. 15:49 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso: Later Gonzi spoke in Parliament and said clearly that in the phonecall with Mr Dalli he clearly said he had stepped down. And this is on record in the Maltese Parliament.

  107. 15:50 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso: Dalli said that I would have sacked him if he did not resign. Of course I would have.

  108. 15:52 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso: Later Mr Dalli stated to question the legality of his resignation. this resignation did not happen in an institutional vacuum. in 1999 the whole Santer Commission had to resign because one Commissioner refused to resign while facing much less serious allegations.

  109. 15:53 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso: If Mr Dalli stayed in office it would not have been possible to adopt the Tobacco directive in this legislature. Instead, though some weeks were lost to replace him, in the end the TPD was reformed and passed.

  110. 15:54 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso: I personally included Mr Dalli's categorical denial of all the allegations in the official statement.

  111. 15:54 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso: But one thing is his presumption of innocence and quite another the political implications.

  112. 15:55 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso: Why has Mr Dalli change his position? And why come up with so many conspiracy theories later. I would like to take the opportunity to say that they are entirely baseless.

  113. 15:56 pmMark Micallef

    Questions from Judges now. Forwood is first.

  114. 15:57 pmMark Micallef

    Forewood: Did you receive the final investigation on October 15. Was this the first intimation that the investigation was over?

  115. 15:57 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso: Some days before I was informed that the OLAF investigation was not able to clear Mr Dalli. But I did not have the report or have the detailed conclusion. I knew they were not at all good for him.

  116. 15:58 pmMark Micallef

    Forwood: Was that the trigger for the meeting?

  117. 15:58 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso: I would have needed to have a second meeting anyway. Especially because in the first meeting he told me he would not hesitate to launch legal action against the people who put him in that situation.

  118. 15:59 pmMark Micallef

    Forwood: Dalli said he had no idea what the meeting was about and was taken aback.

  119. 16:01 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso: I usually tell my Commissioners what the agenda is but in the context of what happened in July, I didn't want to put it in the agenda because it was highly confidential.

  120. 16:01 pmMark Micallef

    Forwood: I see, so you are saying that in view of that July meeting, Mr Dalli should have imagined what the meeting was about.

  121. 16:02 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso: precisely

  122. 16:02 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso: When I was first informed of the investigation, I was concerned so I made contact with some people with whom I did discuss the possible consequence.

  123. 16:03 pmMark Micallef

    Forewood: It has been suggested that during the conversation with Mr Dalli, he said there were two statements depending on the outcome.

  124. 16:05 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso: I had not lost hope completely that he could give a convincing reply and I could be convinced of defending him while maintaining the reputation of the Commission. But he said nothing that convinced me.

  125. 16:06 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso: Eventually we adapted one of the statements to make clear that he was denying the allegations and he did not contest the context. This was during the meeting with my staff. Mr Laitenberger and Mr Romero.

  126. 16:07 pmMark Micallef

    Forwood: You do not dispute that he wanted to read the report and you said you could not give it to him. But you read to him the conclusions abut these "unambiguous pieces of circumstantial evidence". If he did not have access to this, how did you expect him to come up with a convincing reply.

  127. 16:08 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso: This was not a legal process. This was a political meeting. My responsibility to accept that he stays or does not stay in the Commission. The fact that he had no access to the report could not be taken into account by me as a reason for me not to take action.

  128. 16:09 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso: But I was expecting him to say, this is completely false. I don't know this Mr Zammit.l On the contrary, he confirmed. He confirmed that this person from bar services was brokering meetings about the Tobacco Products Directive.

  129. 16:10 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso: I couldn't believe it. What was this thing? In fact he agreed that it was inappropriate.I was hoping for something like this. He gave me no convincing explanation.

  130. 16:11 pmMark Micallef

    Forwood: What imprudences did he admit to?

  131. 16:12 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso: I said to him something on the lines of John: can you explain to me what you were doing meeting this sort of person in this context. And he said, no it was inappropriate for me to do this.

  132. 16:13 pmMark Micallef

    Forwood: You said you would have sacked him if he did not resign. Did you prepare a letter for this eventuality.

  133. 16:14 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso: I never considered the need for a resignation letter. I said you can if you want. He asked to write a resignation letter and I understood that it would help him say certain things that I could not allow in the statement. Interestingly enough, he did not sign that letter, which says a lot about his good faith.

  134. 16:15 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso:I don't know if this is a legal chicane (slalom).

  135. 16:17 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso: It was a free flow discussion in which I used a few examples including from my own country where a politician who was wrongly accused, resigned and then returned after clearing his name. His credibility now enjoys very good approval.

  136. 16:18 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso: He seemed to understand this but I now think he was simply trying to buy time to be able to create more confusion later.

  137. 16:21 pmMark Micallef

    Judge Papasavvas: I understand that you wanted to give Dalli the opportunity to resign. Three options: Either he could explain his position, or he would resign or you would fire him. Let's suppose that he was not aware of the context of the meeting before he came. That is what he said to us. How free would you consider his resignation given that he feels he was taken aback.

  138. 16:24 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso: This is a very hypothetical question. I think he was expecting this meeting. But let us suppose. We are not talking abut a junior. Let's not forget, he had experience of this sort of situation by his own admission. It was the first time for me. So after one and a half hours of discussion, he never said to me I don't accept this situation. If he felt so insecure, he could have asked for the presence of someone at the meeting but he didn't.
    He could have left the room and left me needing to take a graver decision. He did in fact take the decision but then he changed his mind because it is part of the strategy to defend himself.

  139. 16:25 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli's lawyer takes the floor.

  140. 16:26 pmMark Micallef

    One of Mr Dalli's daughters is at the front taking notes from Mr Barroso's testimony.

  141. 16:27 pmMark Micallef

    Behind her, Maltese lawyer Steve Tonna Lowell, on Mr Dalli's side.

  142. 16:27 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli lawyer: Did you read the report. Did you check if this was scrutinized by the Olaf Supervisory Committee?

  143. 16:29 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso: Look, as I said before. This was not a review of the due process. This was a political decision. And there was nothing from what Mr Dalli said that convinced me that his position is tenable. After when there was the affair about the report of Olaf. I did have some discussions about it.

  144. 16:31 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso: The treaty empowers the President of the Commission to be able to take decisions to sack a Commissioner precisely for this sort of situation. Regarding the Olaf investigation, I ask you to speak to them because they are completely independent.

  145. 16:31 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso: I have no reason t believe their investigation was not in order but that is not up to me to say.

  146. 16:32 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli lawyer: Why did you not allow Mr Dalli to take legal advise.

  147. 16:32 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso: Because this was a political decision. I even told him it would be very difficult for you to go about doing your work while being dogged with this affair.

  148. 16:34 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso: Its a political decision. We are not here in the field of labour law. We are here in the field of a very high ranking politician who has some obligations under the treaty. He can seek legal advice later.

  149. 16:37 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli lawyer: Let's go to the motivation for Mr Dalli's termination. How could you lose confidence over facts that you did not share with Mr Dalli?

  150. 16:38 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso: I did share the facts from the covering letter. The facts about the irregular meetings with the Tobacco Industry outside Brussels, in Malta. Without any official from the Commission with a restaurateur for a broker. If this is not reason enough to lose confidence what is?

  151. 16:39 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli lawyer: But this was not in the press statement.

  152. 16:40 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso: I could have put many things in the statement. I could have put that things changed before and after the meeting in the way I viewed him. After the meeting was over it was clear that I had lost confidence in him and so no future for him in the commission.

  153. 16:43 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso: I think the arguments of Mr Dalli are completely absurd. The best evidence is that I did not ask him to resign. He said himself that I did not want him to continue. Then if he did resign it is clear that I did not force him to step down.

  154. 16:43 pmMark Micallef

    Commission lawyer takes the floor.

  155. 16:44 pmMark Micallef

    Why did you call in your staff?

  156. 16:45 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso: It is normal practice. When there is a sensitive issue I speak alone with the Commissioner but then ask my staff over at the end of the meeting to take notes of the conclusion and see to follow ups.

  157. 16:45 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso: For instance, he asked at the end. What happens to my staff? I leave today but will they stay? Those are questions best addressed by them not me.

  158. 16:46 pmMark Micallef

    Barroso: takes an oath confirming that his testimony represents the truth and steps down. Next up Johannes Laitenberger - Barroso's head of cabinet (the term used in Brussels for the politicians' private secretariat).

  159. 16:47 pmMark Micallef

    Journalists breathe as the courtroom seems to take a short break.

  160. 16:49 pmMark Micallef

    ECJ staff were estimating the hearing would take between two to three hours. We're already three hours in and there are three more witnesses to go.

  161. 16:51 pmMark Micallef

    Very somberly Laitenberger goes through the details of the events that led to the meeting.

  162. 16:51 pmMark Micallef

    Laitenberger: I recall the following from my memory and from my notes. I do not possess shorthand but I noted down what seemed most relevant to me.

  163. 16:52 pmMark Micallef

    Laitenberger: Barroso spoke first saying he had explained the conclusions of the OLaf investigation. He said he could not postpone the issue and that he would be making a communique and that speak to the Maltese Prime Minister.

  164. 16:53 pmMark Micallef

    Laitenberger: Mr Dalli spoke next and said that he did not know what was going on and that he could not believe how this was happening on the basis of conjecture. Mr Dalli said that this was a lynching. Mr Barroso sought clarification if he thought it was better if he should stay. Mr Dalli said no.

  165. 16:54 pmMark Micallef

    Laitenberger: Mr Dalli said he should have had the possibility to defend himself with his lawyers.

  166. 16:55 pmMark Micallef

    Laitenberger: Dalli said he would handle this issue as he had handled others. He insisted Olaf came to the wrong conclusion and he would prove it. He would resign bacsue it was the best path to clear his name. He would have rather have waited till tomorrow.

  167. 16:56 pmMark Micallef

    Laitenberger: Barroso said there could be a leak.

  168. 16:56 pmMark Micallef

    Laitenberger: To sum up, I was left with the conclusion that Mr Dalli had resigned of his own volition.

  169. 16:57 pmMark Micallef

    Laitenberger: There was an understanding that it would be preferable to allow Mr Dalli to put his resignation into a text. And that this text would allow him to state his position better. It was clear that this letter would be merely confirmatory.

  170. 16:59 pmMark Micallef

    Forwood is asking questions.

  171. 16:59 pmMark Micallef

    Forwood: Presumably there were discussions between you and Mr Barroso about the possible outcomes.

  172. 17:00 pmMark Micallef

    Laitenberger: I cannot answer this question just in relation to this one meeting....

  173. 17:01 pmMark Micallef

    Laitenberger: first of all, it was clear that it was not up for Barroso to determine whether the investigation was correct. Olaf is independent. In the meantime, the presumption of innocence was very important and President Barroso emphasised this.

  174. 17:03 pmMark Micallef

    Laitenberger: Therefore the question was purely a political decision. If an institution had failed to unambiguously (that word again) clear a politician, should he stay on? That is the question that was before us. It was clear that a quick and decisive reaction is required in this situations. There is no period of grace in these situations...

  175. 17:04 pmMark Micallef

    Laitenberger: The allegations against the applicant are very serious. If not comprehensively dismissed, they would cast a long shadow on the whole Commission. We were shatterred when the Olaf report did not do this.

  176. 17:06 pmMark Micallef

    Laitenberger: Mr Barroso in this context considered three alternative. The first, would see Mr Dalli convince Mr Barroso that the allegations are baseless. Second, in the case that such an explanation was not forthcoming, he would be allowed to resign and start his defence on the best moral ground. If this would not happen, it would Mr Barroso would then proceed to excercise his power to dismiss the applicant.

  177. 17:07 pmMark Micallef

    Laitenberger: Mr Barroso still harboured the hope that he could be convinced to keep Mr Dalli.

  178. 17:08 pmMark Micallef

    Forwood asks if he agrees with Mr Barroso's account of the latter part of the meeting.

  179. 17:08 pmMark Micallef

    Laitenberger: It seems to me that it is a fair account of the situation.

  180. 17:10 pmMark Micallef

    Laitenberger: We did not discuss what reassurance he would need to provide because it was difficult to anticipate. But I would say something along the lines of a categorical denial of the main points of the Olaf report as represented by the covering letter..

  181. 17:13 pmMark Micallef

    Laitenberger: As I said before there is always the risk of imminent leaks which would have been disastrous. We prepared the statements in advance in light of this eventuality. I give you an example, the court normally prepares statements in court cases, preparing for different outcomes. This is simply a professional precaution.

  182. 17:13 pmMark Micallef

    Forwood: Did you foresee the phone call with the Maltese Prime Minister?

  183. 17:14 pmMark Micallef

    Laitenberger: Yes, I do not recall if I have made the arrangements for this, I believe it was arranged by the secretariat of Mr Barroso.

  184. 17:14 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli's lawyers take the floor.

  185. 17:15 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli lawyer questions Laitenberger abut the draft press releases.

  186. 17:16 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli lawyer: Did you say the press releases were sent t the spokespersons before the meeting?

  187. 17:17 pmMark Micallef

    Laitenberger: We did have a meeting with the press service. I do not recall if we gave them the actual draft press releases.

  188. 17:18 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli lawyer: Now we are hearing repetitively, that there were three options for Mr Barroso on the table. So why where there two press releases?

  189. 17:19 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli lawyer: Seeing as you were concerned about a risk of a leak, why did you not prepare also for this eventuality.

  190. 17:20 pmMark Micallef

    Laitenberger: Because you can only perpare for what you can anticipate. For a statement of the sort we would need to have known Mr Dalli's explanation. In the event of a sufficient explanation, it would have been sufficient to draft a press release on the spot.

  191. 17:22 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli lawyer: Was the possibility of the resignation letter to provide legal certainty?

  192. 17:23 pmMark Micallef

    Laitenberger: Primarily, the reason for the resignation letter was to give Mr Dalli the opportunity to give his side of the story. However, since I was not present at the meeting between Mr Barroso and Mr Dalli that is all I can say about this.

  193. 17:24 pmMark Micallef

    Second short break.

  194. 17:25 pmMark Micallef

    Luis Romero Requena - Director of the Commission's legal services is up now.

  195. 17:28 pmMark Micallef

    Romero Requena also goes back to the basics... down to exactly what time his secretary called him to tell him about the meeting with Barroso and Dalli.

  196. 17:31 pmMark Micallef

    He goes over the same ground as Laitenberber: Dalli wanted more time but Barroso emphasised the need to be swift. Dalli accepted to resign but wanted more time. From then on the conversation went into practicalities. How would he be replaced? What would happen to his Cabinet?

  197. 17:32 pmMark Micallef

    Romero Requena: The tone of the meeting was calm and businesslike despite the situation. Both were calm.

  198. 17:33 pmMark Micallef

    Romero Requena: After the meeting Dalli asked me to prepare a resignation letter. I did so, and then took it to him. He said he would take care of it.

  199. 17:34 pmMark Micallef

    Romero Requena: Finally, I have read that Mr Dalli said in the press that the legal service has attempted to modify the Tobacco Products Directive in order to accommodate the tobacco industry. I can say that this is definitely not the case. Our involvement with directives is only to see that they are legally sound.

  200. 17:35 pmMark Micallef

    Judge Forwood takes the floor. Again, he goes back to the preparation of the press statements.

  201. 17:35 pmMark Micallef

    Romero Requena: My involvement was only with regard to the legal dispositions of the treaty in respect to the possibility of Mr Barroso dismissing the applicant.

  202. 17:37 pmMark Micallef

    Forwood: Did you recall any reaction from Dalli after the press statement announcing his stepping down was read to him?

  203. 17:37 pmMark Micallef

    Romero Requena: Only that he denied the allegations and this was included by Mr Barroso in handwriting.

  204. 17:38 pmMark Micallef

    Forwood: So far as the draft of the resignation letter is concerned. You said you left it at his office. Was there any discussion about this at any point?

  205. 17:39 pmMark Micallef

    Romero Requena: Not at all. I presented to him. I asked if he wanted it in electronic format and he said no. We will take care of it.

  206. 17:40 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli's lawyers take the floor: Did you feel Mr Romero Requena that you should give Mr Dalli legal advice?:

  207. 17:40 pmMark Micallef

    Romero Requena: No, I didn't feel I was there to give legal advice. I felt I was there to take note and follow up.

  208. 17:41 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli lawyer: Did you think he was in agreement with the President of the Commission or that he was still protesting his innocence?

  209. 17:42 pmMark Micallef

    Romero Requena: Of course, he protested his innocence and repeatedly - and when I say repeatedly, I mean repeatedly - referred to them as conjectures. But in the end accepted the political reality of the situation.

  210. 17:42 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli lawyer: Did you not understand that Mr Dalli was not yet decided and that the resignation letter was required for this reason?

  211. 17:43 pmMark Micallef

    Romero Requena: No, it never seemed to me as a requirement for his resignation but was a way for him to explain his resignation. I prepared the letter with the help of an assistant.

  212. 17:48 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli lawyer to a note he had made at the time of the resignation and asks. Why did you not take note of the fact that Dalli confirmed that he was willing to resign?

  213. 17:50 pmMark Micallef

    Romero Requena: I did not take a note of this because I was acting under normal circumstances. Dalli accepted to resign but I did not feel the need to take a verbatim account of this.

  214. 17:50 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli lawyer: Did you check if the Olaf report was scrutinised by the supervisory committee.

  215. 17:51 pmMark Micallef

    Romero Requena: Of course not. The relationship between olaf and the supervisory committee is bilateral and they are independent institutions.

  216. 17:52 pmMark Micallef

    Some context: The report was in fact not sent to the Supervisory Committee. This led to serious criticism after the Olaf report became public, particularly because the committee raised serious concerns about the legality of parts of the Olaf investigation.

  217. 17:54 pmMark Micallef

    The committee does not delve into the Olaf conclusions. That is to say, it does not validate or dispute the conclusions of the agency. However, it has made a number of observations to the effect that the agency chief Giovanni Kessler was acting beyond his remit when he obtained certain evidence against both Dalli and his former canvasser Silvio Zammit.

  218. 17:57 pmMark Micallef

    The Commission lawyers take over.

  219. 17:58 pmMark Micallef

    Commission lawyer: Do you have recollection whether Mr Dalli objected to the content of the press release?

  220. 17:59 pmMark Micallef

    Romero Requena: No. Mr Dalli, as I said, he simply raised concern about the timing.

  221. 17:59 pmMark Micallef

    Romero Requena steps down. Next up Joanna Darmanin. Dalli's former head of cabinet.

  222. 17:59 pmMark Micallef

    Five minute break.

  223. 18:01 pmMark Micallef

    A chorus of hallelujah in the press room.

  224. 18:12 pmMark Micallef

    Joanna Darmanin takes the stand

  225. 18:13 pmMark Micallef

    Darmanin gives a chronology that takes place right after the Barroso meeting.

  226. 18:13 pmMark Micallef

    Darmanin: I heard some noises in an office...

  227. 18:14 pmMark Micallef

    Darmanin I saw Dalli and he told me we have a problem, I need to contact my wife. I need to see about my rights. My allowances and whether I have a pension

  228. 18:14 pmMark Micallef

    Darmanin Later he convened all the staff in which he informed us he would no longer commissioner.

  229. 18:15 pmMark Micallef

    Darmanin: One of his staff asked if it was true he met tobacco lobbyists. and he said: you know who I am, if they ask me to meet them I do.

  230. 18:16 pmMark Micallef

    Darmanin: I letter went to his office to find him dictating a statement to the effect that he had been entrapped by the tobacco industry and about the OLAF investigation.

  231. 18:16 pmMark Micallef

    Darmanin: Later the Director General under Mr Dalli Laura Testory Coggi entered the office.

  232. 18:16 pmMark Micallef

    Darmanin: We drafted a line for him together.

  233. 18:17 pmMark Micallef

    Darmanin: I again heard loud voices and found Mr Dalli arguing with Mr Frederic Vincent. He wanted to issue a statement as Commissioner. I told him this would not be possible because as of 17:00 hours he was no longer Commissioner.

  234. 18:18 pmMark Micallef

    Darmanin: Later Mr Dalli was in his office with a journalist. I asked to have a word with himm in private in which I told him that it was not wise for him to deny the contents of the Olaf report if by his own admission he was not aware of its contents.

  235. 18:19 pmMark Micallef

    Darmanin: That was the last time I was in touch with him though he did keep contact with other members of the cabinet for logistical reasons.

  236. 18:19 pmMark Micallef

    Questions. Forwood is first...

  237. 18:20 pmMark Micallef

    Forwood: Where you aware of the investigation before the day of his resignation?

  238. 18:20 pmMark Micallef

    Darmanin: No

  239. 18:20 pmMark Micallef

    Forman: We were told that there was a conflict in the agenda on the 16th because Mr Dalli was expected in Luxembourg.

  240. 18:21 pmMark Micallef

    Darmanin She can't recall but remembers that when she informed Mr Dalli of the request by Mr Barroso, he asked what the agenda was. She said she did not know and asked if he wanted her to check at which point he said no.

  241. 18:22 pmMark Micallef

    Darmanin: At this point I prepared a dossier with pending points

  242. 18:23 pmMark Micallef

    Forman: Were you aware that Romero brought a resignation letter to Mr Dalli down to his offices.

  243. 18:23 pmMark Micallef

    Darmanin: No I wasn't aware that he did. I did not see Mr Romero.

  244. 18:25 pmMark Micallef

    Forman: Dalli said that he was told his staff were instructed no longer to assist him

  245. 18:26 pmMark Micallef

    Darmanin: I would say to the contrary. I was not instructed to this effect and in fact in the days that followed, he was still assisted by his staff and had full access to his secretariat.

  246. 18:27 pmMark Micallef

    Darmanin: Moreover, we had a meeting with the Vice President of the European Commission Moros Sefcovic in which he told us to make sure Dalli has what he needs for the transition

  247. 18:28 pmMark Micallef

    Forman: When you spoke to Dalli did he at any point say that he had resigned or that he was forced to?

  248. 18:28 pmMark Micallef

    Darmanin: I cannot, hand on heart recall what the exact words were. What I can say is that I was left with the conclusion that as at 17:00 hours Mr Dalli would no longer be Commissioner.

  249. 18:29 pmMark Micallef

    Commission lawyers take the floor asking about the people who were with Mr Dalli besides the journalist she mentioned.

  250. 18:30 pmMark Micallef

    Darmanin says at one point he was with Frank Zammit (his private secretary) and Harry Vassallo (who also works in the cabinet).

  251. 18:30 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli lawyer: How did you prepare for this statement?

  252. 18:31 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli lawyer: How did you arrive here?

  253. 18:32 pmMark Micallef

    Darmanin: When I received the summons of the court, I sat down and started going through my memories and cross checking. For instance, when I said that when I prepared a statement, I looked at my computer and saw at what time it was prepared.

  254. 18:33 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli lawyer asks about the resignation letter. Did you see this?

  255. 18:33 pmMark Micallef

    Darmanin: The first time I saw it was in the press a few days after the event.

  256. 18:33 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli lawyer: So you did not take the letter to him to sign it?

  257. 18:33 pmMark Micallef

    Darmanin: Absolutely not.

  258. 18:36 pmMark Micallef

    Darmanin: In the first meeting with the Secretary General of the Commission Catherine Day and Mr Laitenberger. They assured us that we had nothing to fear because Olaf had established that the TPD had not been affected and the cabinet was not implicated in the issue. Mr Sefcovic was to takeover the portfolio temporarily but sensitive matters like the TPD would be suspended for the time being.

  259. 18:36 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli lawyer: Did Catherine Day say that he had resign at this meeting?

  260. 18:37 pmMark Micallef

    Darmanin: I do not recall that Mrs Day made any reference to this. But there was no question about this because the statement had been issued at 17:00hrs.

  261. 18:39 pmMark Micallef

    Dalli lawyer: Last question about Dalli's wish to make a statement. He said he was not allowed.

  262. 18:40 pmMark Micallef

    Darmanin: First, I drafted a line to take to Mr Dalli at about 16:20. I prepared this response in order to help him. Or at least that is what I believed I was doing.

  263. 18:41 pmMark Micallef

    Darmanin: What happened at abut six, was that you had a person (Dalli) who wanted to issue a statement as a Commissioner when an hour earlier, the Commission had issued a statement saying he was no longer a Commissioner. Nobody gave me instructions that I should not assist him but I drew the logical conclusion from the statement that had been issued an hour earlier.

  264. 18:42 pmMark Micallef

    Judge Savvas Papasavvas takes the floor.

  265. 18:43 pmMark Micallef

    Judge Papasavvas: You said that when he returned from the meeting with Barroso, on what basis did you prepare the statement that you said that you prepared for him.

  266. 18:45 pmMark Micallef

    Darmanin: I prepared a statement on the basis of what I picked up. The fact that Mr Dalli was denying the allegations, that it was all based on circumstantial evidence.

  267. 18:48 pmMark Micallef

    Frederick Vincent takes the stand.

  268. 18:49 pmMark Micallef

    Describes the meeting he had with staff after his resignation. He was teary eyed. He said he would leave the Commission, go to Malta and defend his name. A couple of staff members asked questions and the meeting ended there.

  269. 18:52 pmMark Micallef

    Vincent: Later Mr Dalli asked me if he could issue a statement with his view. I replied that it was not possible because he it had already been made official that he had resigned. Ms Darmanin entered the room and confirmed this to him. That is the last time I saw Mr Dalli in the Berlaymont buildings - the Commission's HQ in Brussels.

  270. 18:53 pmMark Micallef

    Judge Forman is first to ask questions.

  271. 18:54 pmMark Micallef

    Forwood: It's been said that the resignation press release was issued by the Commission at 16:26 and then embargoed.

  272. 18:54 pmMark Micallef

    Vincent: No. It was issued at 17:11

  273. 19:18 pmMark Micallef

    The court wraps up and the session is closed.

  274. 19:22 pmMark Micallef

    That is all for today from this blog. Stay tuned tomorrow at around 1:30. For the second round. The lawyers from both sides are expected to make their final pleas.


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