Updated at 2.15pm with OPM clarification
The discovery that Michelle Muscat's signature had been falsified was "obviously" part of the Egrant inquiry, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said on Wednesday.
But Dr Muscat's office subsequently issued a clarification, saying the Prime Minister's reply to a question by the Times of Malta had been misunderstood (see below).
The inquiry, only part of which has been made public, found that signatures on trust documents linking Michelle Muscat to Egrant had been forged.
The inquiry conclusions made public revealed that a British forensic accounting firm had found that the signature of Mossack Fonseca employee Jacqueline Alexander, whose name was on the declaration of trust, had been falsified.
Ms Alexander also took an oath stating that she had not drafted or signed any such declarations.
The inquiry conclusions published made no mention of Ms Muscat's signature having been falsified - a claim Dr Muscat made on Tuesday during a heated exchange in parliament.
Asked by Times of Malta specifically about his wife's signature having been forged, Dr Muscat replied by saying this was “obviously part of the report.”
The report, he said, “clearly says that the signatures in the document are falsified signatures," Dr Muscat told Times of Malta.
Dr Muscat's office subsequently issued a clarification to those remarks.
In a speech last August, Dr Muscat had hinted that the Egrant inquiry had found that signatures on declarations of trust were not the only forgeries.
Tuesday's exchange in Parliament developed after the Prime Minister was heard in off-mic comments accusing Dr Busuttil of “being a fraudster” and falsifying documents.
He later apologised, saying he had spoken in the heat of the moment, adding that someone who believed a lie was a liar, and someone who backed a fraud was a fraudster.
On Wednesday, Dr Muscat apologised again, saying that “emotions had flared” in parliament.
“This is a very sensitive and emotional issue as my family has been dragged through Calvary because of allegations that were complete lies.”
Busuttil’s attitude ‘leaves much to be desired’ – PM
Dr Busuttil was either taken for a big ride, or he was part of a system of falsifications that tried to destabilise the country, leading to an early election.”
He insisted that Dr Busuttil needed to shoulder responsibility not just by dropping his role as a spokesman, but also his MP role.
If there is anyone who should resign, it is the Minister who opened a secret company in Panama to channel $150,000 a month and the Prime Minister who let him (and his own Chief of Staff) get away with it. Joseph Muscat is no victim. He is complicit.https://t.co/67GogY9yXz— Simon Busuttil (@SimonBusuttil) October 10, 2018
“I apologise for the tone, but we are all human. I don’t believe Dr Busuttil has apologised. It is not in my style to speak in this manner, but I was hurt and Dr Busuttil’s attitude – not of the Opposition – leads much to be desired.”
He insisted he was the victim in this ordeal.
“Do not turn your guns on me or my family,” he told the media.
Asked whether the government should kick off an inquiry to explore alleged links between Daphne Caruana Galizia’s alleged killers and MPs, Dr Muscat said the discussion should instead be about whether MPs should relinquish their profession and become full-time MPs.
Dr Muscat also reconfirmed his trust in police commissioner Lawrence Cutajar.
A spokesman at the Office of the Prime Minister told Times of Malta that his words had been misunderstood.
"Whilst in the spur of the moment in parliament yesterday the Prime Minister did refer to falsified signature of his wife, this morning he did not repeat it to the Times of Malta," the spokesman said.
"In order to make it absolutely clear, the Office of the Prime Minister would like to clarify the statement.
"The question by the Times’ journalist was a direct one. Yet the Prime Minister in his reply did not refer to 'Michelle Muscat’s falsified signature'. His actual reply was: 'Obviously it is part of the report which clearly says that the signatures in the document are falsified signatures', the spokesman said.
The results of the inquiry in fact refer to false and forged signatures on the declarations of trust were used in the case built maliciously against Mrs Muscat.
The document was analysed twice over by British forensic experts," the spokesman said.
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