The Malta Independent 24 October 2020, Saturday

Updated: PN says Speaker did not tell Busuttil fuel allegations were passed on to the police

Tuesday, 8 December 2015, 11:06 Last update: about 6 years ago

Speaker of the House Anglu Farrugia said today that it was the police, and not him, who had requested a magisterial inquiry into the fuel consumption of the Opposition Leader’s official car.

He also insisted that the investigation had started well before the PN Leader announced the PN’s good governance package and before Dr Busuttil had challenged a ruling on PL MP Joe Debono Grech’s threats against Marlene Farrugia.

But the Nationalist Party insisted this afternoon that the Speaker had not informed Dr Busuttil that the allegations were passed on to the police and again doubted the timing of the issue. 

Dr Busuttil broke the news yesterday and filed a court application in which he said he would cooperate fully with the investigation. He also suspended his driver. Later in the evening the Opposition Leader questioned the timing of the inquiry and also asked why the Speaker had not informed him about it.

Dr Busuttil said he had learned about the inquiry through the “grapevine”. He said he was simply asked some questions by the Clerk of the House two weeks ago but that was it.

He said that coincidentally, he got to know about the magisterial inquiry a day after his party presented a set of “good governance” proposals. The timing, he said, was suspicious.

In a statement issued this morning, Dr Farrugia said he had given instructions for an investigation to start well before Dr Busuttil filed a motion to challenge the ruling and also before the PN presented its good governance package.

The Speaker also clarified that the Opposition Leader had been informed immediately when the investigation started and thanked him for his cooperation. He added that the decision to launch a magisterial inquiry had been taken by the police, not by him or at his request.

Dr Busuttil said yesterday that his driver his driver had strongly denied engaging in any irregularities.

He said that he carried out an exercise where he compared the fuel costs of three other cars of the same type and model - an Opel Insignia - to the one he is chauffeured in and it resulted that the average fuel consumption was the same as the car he is driven in. He said that it was estimated some 10 litres per 100 kilometres is consumed.

An Opel Insignia, similar to the one used by the Opposition Leader


He said that until now he has no idea what irregularities, if any, were being investigated except for the fact that the investigation is tied to fuel consumption.

Dr Busuttil explained that the Opposition leader is allowed some 50 litres a week petrol – which is paid by parliament – but his driver never exceeded 70 euros worth of fuel weekly. “Is this something extraordinary?” he asked.

Informed sources told this newsroom that Dr Busuttil's driver does not handle any cash when purchasing fuel and an invoicing system is used.

 

PN statement

In a statement this afternoon the Nationalist Party insisted that the Speaker did not mention to Dr Busuttil that the issue was handed over to the police.

It said Dr Busuttil had cooperated fully with the Speaker’s request for information, made two weeks ago, despite the fact that the Dr Farrugia already had the information at hand. It pointed out that the car used by Dr Busuttil was Parliament property.

“It is therefore difficult to understand why the Speaker waited two and a half weeks to check how much fuel was being used when he had the information at hand.”

It said the Opposition Leader was at no time informed by the Speaker that the issue had been reported to the police or that the information had been passed on to an inquiry. “One would have expected the Speaker to inform the Opposition Leader that he was passing an accusation of a serious criminal nature to the police, instead of doing this behind the Opposition’s back.”

 

“It seems, however, that the Speaker chose to create a sensation, coincidentally soon after the Opposition contested his ruling and also soon after Simon Busuttil announced the most ambitious good governance document ever to be presented by a Maltese political party.”

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