Former Times of Malta journalist Ivan Camilleri has denied that murder suspect Yorgen Fenech, or anyone else, ever offered him money in return for publishing a story.
Camilleri issued a statement through his lawyer Peter Fenech after newspaper Illum reported that Fenech had messaged an unnamed high-ranking Castille official in January 2019 to inform him he had paid a journalist called ‘Ivan’ €10,000 to run a story.
This came after said Castille official told Fenech to push a story against one of his government colleagues in Times of Malta or The Malta Independent.
“Ivan Camilleri was never approached by Yorgen Fenech to publish anything about anyone,” the former journalist’s lawyer wrote.
“He was never offered money in return for his journalistic work from Fenech or anyone else in the past 30 years. He already declared that he didn’t give Fenech or anyone else any information or hints throughout his journalistic career.”
“He reminds readers that these insinuations led him to open three libel suits against Illum and MaltaToday. He never spoke to Keith Schembri, be it face-to-face or through another form of communication. He never stole anything from anywhere and believes that the whole truth will soon emerge once the libel procedures conclude.”
In January 2019, Times of Malta had employed three journalists called Ivan – Ivan Fenech, who died a few months later, Ivan Camilleri, who was sacked later that year following a report that he had tipped off Yorgen Fenech about his imminent arrest, and Ivan Martin, who still works there.
Martin said the dates in the Ilum story show it couldn’t have been him, as his first communication with Fenech – simply to request his comments on a developing story – was in April 2019.
“We had never spoken before. I guess it must have been some other ‘Ivan’,” he said.
Although the Illum story didn’t say so, Martin said the unnamed Castille official was none other than Keith Schembri, the former chief of staff to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.