“There’s proof that it was paid for”, said Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis when asked to clarify who paid for this stay at the Évian-Les-Bains Hilton in northern France in 2014, but he stopped short of saying by whom the trip was actually paid.
Last Thursday, news story broke by Lovin Malta that Zammit Lewis and former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat went on a private holiday to the Évian-Les-Bains Hilton Hotel in France, owned by the Tumas Group.
Sources told Lovin Malta that it was part-funded by the main suspect of the Daphne Caruana Galizia assassination, Yorgen Fenech who used to be a Tumas Group Director. The story read that the holiday was in 2017, however both Muscat and Zammit Lewis said it was actually in 2014.
Both him and former prime Minister Joseph Muscat have refused to clarify who paid for their stay at the hotel, but Muscat had told the Times of Malta that they had paid for the flights themselves.
Following a press conference on Tuesday, the media once again asked Zammit Lewis to give clear answer on who paid for the accommodation at the hotel.
“They sent me questions about this, and I answered clearly, if you look at that reply, or if those who sent the questions look at my extensive reply and get the date right, you can rest assured that you will have your answer”, he said, making reference to the Lovin Malta article which he for getting the date of the trip wrong.
Asked if he will give the names of those who paid for the trip, he said that he has nothing to add.
Asked to give proof that he paid for the trip he said; “I can assure you that there is proof that the trip was paid for.”
When he was pressured even further to give the name of who paid for the trip, he said that he does not have the receipts from six years ago and emphasised that he has always proceeded ethically in everything that he has done with regards to his ministerial work.
Last Thursday Muscat had told Times of Malta that, “The stay in France some years back was part of a family holiday, and no local taxpayer or EU funds were used. We travelled from and back to Malta on commercial flights and paid accordingly.” When pressed to clarify whether he had paid for the accommodation or just the flights, Muscat said, “I replied quite clearly”, and referred the newspaper back to its original source.
Zammit Lewis then published a Facebook statement, saying the news article – which was originally published on Lovin Malta, was aimed at damaging his political character and the work he has done in favour of the rule of law and good governance.
He was asked by The Malta Independent to clarify whether, ultimately, he paid for his and his family’s accommodation completely or if it was partly paid for by someone else, or given for free.
“I never asked for anything to be free,” he said, then suggesting that this newsroom investigate PN MPs who he says are renting hotels from the Tumas Group or still doing legal work for them. “Do your job well like I did on introducing radical reforms in our system,” he said.