Times of Malta journalist Ivan Camilleri has strongly denied a MaltaToday story claiming he was caught shoplifting “highly-priced goods” from a Naxxar supermarket.
However, he said he has offered to “take a step back” at the newspaper until his superiors clarify the issue further.
In a statement, Camilleri said he visited Valyou and mistakenly placed some small items into his shopping cart which he forgot to pass through the counter for payment together with all his family’s shopping.
“As I was leaving, one of the cashiers asked me about the items in question,” he said. “I immediately realised I had forgotten some items, excused myself for the mishap and paid there and then for the items.”
Camilleri said he spoke directly to Valyou’s owner Ray Mintoff about the incident and that Mintoff immediately recognised his mistake and confirmed there was absolutely no case of shoplifting.
MaltaToday’s article, written by managing editor Saviour Balzan, alleged that staff manning the CCTV alerted the supermarket’s management to Camilleri’s movements and that a company official confronted the journalist.
Balzan said the incident was confirmed to MaltaToday by an owner of the supermarket, but that the owner refused to release a comment on the amount Camilleri repaid for the stolen goods.
The story also quotes witnesses as saying that Camilleri admitted that “he should have known better considering that he was constantly reminding others of what was wrong and what is right.”
However, Camilleri blasted these allegations as incorrect.
“At no point was I ‘confronted’, its a lie that ‘staff manning the CCTV alerted management’ and ‘no incident was revealed to the management after the shoplifting took place’,” he said. “There was NO SHOPLIFTING except in Mr Balzan’s fertile imagination.”
“The fact that the Managing Editor of a newspaper tries to conjure a story out of an innocent incident, which can happen to anyone, is beyond belief.”
“It shows how the so-called editor has a clear agenda to try to tarnish the reputation of serious people who spent their lives fighting what is wrong, no matter who does it and the personal sacrifices such a job entails.”
“I will continue to perform my duties to my best abilities without fear or favour despite attempts to attack my reputation. The facts in this statement can be confirmed by the owner of the supermarket as I have absolutely nothing to hide.”
“Sadly, I have no other option but to follow up with legal advice on how best to defend my reputation.”
Camilleri added that he has discussed the matter with his superiors and offered to take a step back until they clarify the issue further, “as I adhere to the highest of standards”.