During the press conference held in Brussels ex-commissioner John Dalli spoke to a packed room of journalists vehemently denying meeting Swedish Match. He says he did not declare other meetings with lobbyists as 'not substantial'. Dalli lashed out saying that he's suing the Commission and the Swedish businessman. He blames 'electoral interests' of Maltese government for its conspicuous lack of defence of him.
"I deny meeting with ESTOC's Mr Hildingsson, either in January or February. I met with another representative back in August 2010."
He told reporters that he met a 'young lawyer' to talk snus but 'these type of meetings not influential at all'. 'She did not come to me as a lobbyist... just asked questions. She did not try and persuade me... There were no negotiations.
He added that: "Meeting people is part of being informed, when these meetings are not substantial and do not influence decisions, I don't declare."
'When I'm in Malta I meet everybody. I talk to anyone who wants to talk to me,' he commented.
Dalli asks journalists in the room to check whether 'supervisory board' has approved OLAF report by now. Till recently that wasn't so.
"Swedish Match seems to have negotiated with Zammit about price; when they decided it was too high, they launched the complaint.". Dalli said that the company offered Zammit money to meet him.
Dalli suggests that tobacco company asked for money, disagreed about amount and complained to the European Commission.
"Tobacco lobbyists have been lobbying all parts of Commission, all staff, it has been an onslaught!" Dalli noted.
When asked why did he resign, Dalli said he needed legal advise, but "Barroso has prerogative to remove me."
"Maybe the perception is wrong because I resigned, but I never 'offered' resignation, I had no other option."
"What I'm waiting for is a written EC request for resignation, when I get it, I'll resign. I won't block new Maltese appointment," he declared.
"Fellow Commissioners told me in discussions that they were supportive of tobacco packaging directive, despite of lobbying."
Dalli said that he fears tobacco directive will be delayed until after 2016 - European Commission says will be tabled before end year.