Chris Fearne has described his relationship with former chief of staff in the prime minister’s office, Keith Schembri, as “frosty” when testifying in the Caruana Galizia public inquiry.
The Deputy Prime Minister said the relationship soured after he had raised concerns that Schembri was working against his bid to become deputy leader after the 2017 election.
Fearne said that after Panama Papers was exposed, the prime minister had talked individually to every minister on the future of then energy minister Konrad Mizzi.
Schembri not up for discussion
The prime minister had informed Fearne that Mizzi was not going to remain deputy leader or minister for health.
“On Keith Schembri, the PM had said that he had trust in him and he would decide on his fate. The PM had met ministers individually after Panamagate. The discussion was mostly on Konrad Mizzi. Keith Schembri was not up for discussion,” Fearne said.
Fearne also testified that former minister Konrad Mizzi had not informed him of a waiver he had given Steward Health Care not to submit a bank guarantee for the hospitals concession.
Mizzi was then tourism minister but was still responsible for Projects Malta that handled the hospitals concession deal.
Replying to a question from lawyer Jason Azzopardi, the deputy prime minister admitted that despite being health minister, Mizzi signed the waiver without informing him.
Fearne said that negotiations with Steward Health Care were still going on.
The deputy prime minister admitted he could have done more internally to keep power to account but insisted he was not aware of a kitchen cabinet, originally mentioned by Foreign Minister Evarist Bartolo when he testified in the inquiry.
In the previous sitting of the inquiry last week, former deputy PM Louis Grech told the public inquiry that ‘a darkness fell over the country,’ after Caruana Galizia’s murder.
READ MORE: Caruana Galizia murder was ‘a darkness that fell over the country’, former deputy PM Louis Grech tells public inquiry
The public inquiry into the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia is tasked with, amongst other things, determining whether the State did all it could to prevent the murder from happening.
Caruana Galizia was murdered in a car bomb just outside her Bidnija home on 16 October 2017. Three men, George Degiorgio, Alfred Degiorgio and Vince Muscat, have been charged with carrying out the assassination, while Yorgen Fenech is charged with masterminding the murder.
Melvin Theuma, who acted as a middleman between Fenech and the three killers, was granted a presidential pardon last year to tell all.
The inquiry is led by retired judge Michael Mallia, and includes former chief justice Joseph Said Pullicino and Judge Abigail Lofaro.