Malta Independent columnist Daphne Caruana Galizia said she had given Pullicino Orlando "much succour... to the detriment at times of [her] peace of mind."
Malta Independent columnist Daphne Caruana Galizia has denied having told Nationalist MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando that permanent representative to the EU, Richard Cachia Caruana, had worked for his resignation from parliament.
In a statement Caruana Galizia sent to most of the press after a round of blogs that ended at 7:52pm on Monday evening, shortly after Pullicino Orlando declared he would with the Opposition's motion, the columnist claimed the MP was in bad faith when he first stated the allegation in court under oath, in a libel suit instituted by Cachia Caruana against Mediatoday managing editor Saviour Balzan.
Pullicino Orlando yesterday said Caruana Galizia was one of several journalists who did the bidding for Cachia Caruana in targeting critics and dissenting MPs of the Nationalist Party, and claimed she had told him she was set upon him by Cachia Caruana himself after the 2008 general election.
"Had Pullicino Orlando not protected himself by means of parliamentary privilege when saying this, I would have been able to open civil and criminal suits against him for slander," Caruana Galizia said in her statement.
The columnist said it true that there were people working for Pullicino Orlando's resignation, who was returned to parliament from two constituencies despite a planning scandal he was implicated in that risked losing the election for the PN. "But I had no reason to believe that Richard Cachia Caruana was one of them. If he were one of them, and had I been privy to that information, there is no way I would have imparted it to Pullicino Orlando, a politician I had spoken to just a few times, in breach of trust to Cachia Caruana, who I have known since I was in my early 20s. Pullicino Orlando goes awry in judging others by his own despicable standards."
Pullicino Orlando has been a regular target of Caruana Galizia's poison-pen blog, and on Monday she joined a cadre of Cachia Caruana 'acolytes' - as termed by the MP - whom he portrayed as gatekeepers who served the permanent representative for their personal gain.
Caruana Galizia, whose support of Pullicino Orlando during the 2008 general election on her blog mirrored the PN's attack-dog strategy to pit the MP in direct confrontation against Alfred Sant, had publicly declared she would vote for the MP.
But Pullicino Orlando yesterday read out one of her blogposts in which he claimed she had been told to attack the MP in a bid to force his resignation from parliament, but refused to do so in full belief that Pullicino Orlando's parliamentary seat belonged to his constituents and not the party.
"The tragic irony is that he has used the constituency support I gave him to betray the political party for which I voted, and to launch a blackguard's tirade against me and others, while protected by parliamentary privilege," Caruana Galizia said on Monday.
"I will regret until my dying day my decision to vote for Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando, a man I have come to think of as a blackguard, and to give him so much succour and support, to the detriment at times of my peace of mind, in the first year after the general election of 2008... I have made it amply clear that I will do penance for many years to come for having voted for somebody so very unworthy and so undeserving of my trust."
Another columnist mentioned by Pullicino Orlando in his parliamentary speech was Times columnist Andrew Borg Cardona, who also reacted to the MP's statements with a blog on the Timesofmalta.com website.
"Let me spell it out, so even Mr Pullicino Orlando can grasp it: I was, am and remain honoured to call Cachia Caruana my friend. This does not mean, however, that he tells me what to write and what opinions to hold," Borg Cardona wrote.
"If he has proof to the contrary, why doesn't he have the moral fibre to say it without Parliamentary privilege, where he has to be careful what he says, because if he lies, he can be called a liar without being able to invoke the privileges to which he is entitled?"
Pullicino Orlando yesterday also claimed Where's Everybody director and Bondiplus presenter Lou Bondì, government's public broadcasting advisor Fr Joe Borg, as well as The Times' correspondent in Brussels, Ivan Camilleri, were part of a group of media players who ingratiated themselves with Cachia Caruana and did his bidding.