The Malta Independent 19 May 2022, Thursday

PN gives St Julian's Mayor 24 hours to substantiate claims; Buttigieg says he won't reveal source

Kevin Schembri Orland Friday, 13 May 2022, 17:20 Last update: about 5 days ago

The Nationalist Party on Friday gave St Julian's Mayor Albert Buttigieg 24 hours to substantiate claims he made, the mayor told The Malta Independent.

In an opinion article that was published in the Times of Malta, Buttigieg said that he, like a number of other candidates, were not given equal opportunities.

"Sadly, there was no fair play. The party's gurus 'anointed' a number of candidates at the expense of others," he had said. He said that he was never invited to deliver press conferences or take part in any debates, whereas others were given daily exposure.

He said that he reflected on the reason why he was 'given the cold shoulder'. In his article, he said that his 'fears and doubts' were confirmed by someone who had overheard a senior 'unofficial' party official talking to a 'fat cat' who has "vast commercial and construction interests in St Julian's". He said that the fat cat requested the party official to shut him up. The mayor wrote that the party official promised to oblige. 

Buttigieg asked a number of questions in his opinion article, including whether there was an agreement to silence him.

The mayor had spoken out against a number of developments in St Julian's over the years.

Contacted by this newsroom, a PN spokesperson said that it has invited Buttigieg to go before the party's Ethics, Discipline and Social Media Commission to substantiate claims he has made, and for the party to see if there is a need to investigate.

In a letter to the PN's General Secretary on Friday, Buttigieg wrote: "With reference to the email you sent today, honestly, I do not feel I have anything more to add than what I conscientiously wrote. I stand with what I have written in my article - Only the truth sets us free - Albert Buttigieg (timesofmalta.com)"

"I trust that we can agree that the ethos of the PN includes the uncompromised will and the moral imperative to fight against sleaze and to uncover uncomfortable truths about unacceptable behaviour by people who should know better. With this in mind, I wrote the truth. I owe it to myself, to the Party whose values drive my daily political activity and to my constituents to be truthful and prevent others from going through what I went through," Buttigieg said.

"This is not about me and/or my 'political journey', which is coming to an end but about the political class and the national well-being being hijacked by the greedy few.  May I kindly draw your attention that your press statement, 'give us proof', sounds similar to what the Labour Party says when accused of sleaze!"

"In all honestly, I can NEVER reveal any names. In doing so, I will compromise the well-being of my source. I have solemnly promised that I will not divulge details that lead to his/her identification. I find comfort in the Data Protection Act and the Whistle-blower Act. Both legislations protect the divulgation of the source."

"Rest assured that the source is a credible one.  If I have to pay a further price, let it be! It is better to die on one's feet than to live on one's knees. However, I infringed no part of the party statute. If so, please indicate which part of the statute. I only asked pertinent questions and maybe uncomfortable ones. If you consider them worth investigating, then it is up to you as General Secretary to follow them. I encourage you to be proactive," Buttigieg wrote.

"What is indisputable is that I am on record in underlining that I was side-lined prior and during the campaign. This leads me to trust that as Secretary General you ought to request why this occurred and what were the reasons which lead to this. Although the scar of betrayal deeply hurt, I have not resigned (and have no intention of doing so). I intend to continue working for the common good of my locality. I have no problem in meeting you and discussing further," Buttigieg concluded.

Contacted by this newsroom and asked if he would be willing to attend the PN's Commission's meeting, Buttigieg said that he has no problem going.

"When I was asked in the past to explain why we were objecting to certain developments or certain decisions as a council, even though I am under no obligation to speak with the party on council issues as the party and council are separate, I always went and explained myself."

He reiterated that he will not reveal his source to the party. He said he does not know if he is being called as a witness or accused.

PN member Ray Bezzina, who was Bernard Grech's aide in the past, meanwhile has requested the Commission to investigate the claims. While saying that Buttigieg's article never mentioned any names, he said that some understood the allegations to refer to him. Bezzina denied ever having considered or accepted any offer as was written in the article and asked for an investigation so that mudslinging would stop and that anyone with information on such serious issues not hide behind sources, but ensure that the facts for the good of society, honesty and transparency are made known. He trusts that an investigation can take place confidentially and that anyone with information must pass it on to the commission, and that decisions that need to be taken, be taken while protecting his sources.


 


 

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