Times of Malta journalist Ivan Martin has flagged how Yorgen Fenech’s lawyer Gianluca Caruana Curran had offered him a set of €500 notes during a recent meeting.
Martin said the money was offered to him at the end of a 20-minute meeting he had in Valletta with Caruana Curran and Charles Mercieca, Fenech’s other defence lawyer.
“I cannot be sure how many notes he handed as I didn’t unfold them,” Martin said.
“I handed them back to him and told him I couldn’t accept payment. I also informed them that I only get paid from Times of Malta, and that he should not do that again going forward.”
He said Caruana Curran told him that “time costs money”, that he meant no disrespect and that he only offered the money because he had never dealt with a journalist before.
Martin immediately informed his editor and Times of Malta sought a reaction from Caruana Curran about the incident.
The lawyer confirmed that “remuneration” was offered to Martin after he “led them to understand that we could use his services to help neutralise the bias in the reporting in the media” and that it was only after the money was offered that Martin told him he worked full time with Times of Malta.
Martin has been working full-time with Times of Malta since 2013.
Caruana Curran said that Martin had initially approached Fenech’s defence team, which welcomed the opportunity seeing as Times of Malta had been “consistently biased” in its reporting of the case.
However, Martin said Mercieca approached him and Times of Malta’s editors said the lawyers never complained about their reporting.
“We believe it is unethical and fundamentally wrong for any lawyer to offer cash to journalists,” Times of Malta’s editor-in-chief Herman Grech said. “It becomes very serious when the lawyers are dealing with one of the most delicate criminal cases this country has ever seen.”
“The integrity of our journalism is as important as that of protecting our sources. We will let our readers decide to judge our track record on reporting the Daphne Caruana Galizia case.”