Labour party president Ramona Attard has deflected questions from the media on what action the party will take over WhatsApp chats that showed the possibility that its MP Rosianne Cutajar was trading in influence.
Attard refused to answer questions from journalists, instead doubling down on condemnation of the publication of thousands of messages between Cutajar and businessman Yorgen Fenech.
The chats, published by author Mark Camilleri, reveal that the pair were involved in a relationship at a time when Fenech faced mounting scrutiny for being revealed as the owner of the secret company 17 Black.
They also show that she received a gift from him of a designer handbag around the time that she defended 17 Black from corruption claims during a Council of Europe sitting.
Taking questions from the media after a press conference on Thursday, Attard "strongly condemned" the publication of the chats in breach of a court order.
When pressed by reporters to comment on the possibility of Fenech having influenced Cutajar, as well as the MP's judgement on matters concerning Fenech and his business interests, she reiterated her stance.
"As the president of a political party, it worries me immensely when private details are published, I don't think this is the message we should be spreading in Maltese politics," she said.
"On other matters related to the subject, Prime Minister Robert Abela has already commented on this and I have nothing further to add."
She ignored further questions on the extent of Cutajar's relationship with Fenech and the possible influence on her political decisions, deflecting instead to comment on how the Labour Party in government had worked to improve people's lives.
Doorstepped outside of parliament on Wednesday, the prime minister said that Cutajar has "already paid the political price" over the exchange with Fenech when she stepped down as parliamentary secretary two years ago.
“I don’t believe she should be made to pay a second time," he said.
Abela condemned Camilleri's publication of the chats, saying that the former PL delegate had held on to them and published them despite a court order preventing him from doing. He accused Camilleri of publishing them at a time when they would cause the highest possible damage to the MP.
“I’m surprised at how the PN Leader and the EU Parliament President had no problem associating themselves with this misogynistic and cruel way that the chats were leaked,” he said.
The Labour Party women's section has also condemned the publication of the chats, describing the act as "an attack" on Cutajar.
The court has since ordered police to investigate whether the publication of the chats breached a secrecy order in place.