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Simon Busuttil: ‘I was the one Joseph Muscat spoke to about Mistra’

Labour leader denies having given details that could identify Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando.

Raphael Vassallo
25 July 2012, 12:00am
Nationalist MEP Simon Busuttil. Photo: Ray Attard/Mediatoday
Nationalist MEP Simon Busuttil has revealed that it was a casual conversation between himself and Labour leader Joseph Muscat - who at the time was still an MEP - that led the PN to suspect a Labour campaign targeting Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando over a proposed development in Mistra, shortly before the 2008 election.

"I can confirm that I was the person with whom Joseph Muscat spoke," Busuttil said yesterday in a text message reply to questions sent by this newspaper. "The information he disclosed was more than enough for me to easily conclude that JPO was the PL target. I immediately passed on this info to my secretary general, Joe Saliba."

Saliba in turn had alluded to this fact - without mentioning the name of the PN official involved - in an interview shortly after the same election. From this same interview it emerges that the conversation had taken place after the two MEPs had already crossed swords publicly, in a televised debate organised by the Broadcasting Authority: in which Muscat had publicly hinted at a possible smear campaign targeting an unnamed PN candidate.

The subsequent conversation is in fact understood to have taken place on board a flight from Malta to Brussels, where the two MEPs would often sit next to each other.

By revealing these details, Busuttil has effectively ended more than four years of public speculation regarding how the PN first got wind of the Labour Party's plans to build part of its campaign around the inauspiciously-named 'Spin Valley' discotheque... for which a MEPA application had been filed on land owned by Pullicino Orlando, in the ecologically sensitive Mistra valley.

The contract for this disco had featured prominently in the dying days of the election campaign, and is widely believed to have both reversed Labour's chances of victory, as well as catapulted Pullicino Orlando himself into parliament with over 5,000 votes from two districts.

After alluding to its existence for several days without supplying any proof, Labour leader Alfred Sant finally made public the contract - signed by Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando - during the final debate between the  party leaders on the eve of the so-called 'day of reflection' before the election.

His timing was however less than perfect: owing to a ban on publication of political stories on the day of reflection, no media carried the story of the Mistra contract, which was therefore lost amid the electoral fever of a particularly tense campaign.

In the wake of the political crisis that culminated in Pullicino Orlando's resignation from the PN earlier this month, both parties have traded blows regarding their respective roles in the Mistra affair, in what appears to be an attempt to dissociate themselves from the same scandal, while tarnishing each other with involvement in the same issue.

Labour insists that the contract had originally been leaked by a PN official - a claim vehemently denied by the PN.

Last week, the Nationalist Party returned fire by claiming that it was in fact Joseph Muscat who had inadvertently alerted the PN to the fact that it knew about the Mistra contract.

Busuttil's confirmation yesterday appears to shed light on this latter claim: but a spokesman for Joseph Muscat dismissed Busuttil's version of the facts as erroneous... though he did not the deny that the conversation took place

"Whatever Joseph Muscat said to Simon Busuttil had already been publicly stated on record before, in front of the whole Maltese public, during the televised debate."

The spokesman added that Muscat "categorically denied having mentioned Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando, or anyone else, by name, or alluded to the Mistra affair in any way."

charles philip zammit
lets say that dr muscat might have said something to dr busuttil while travelling together to brussels or vise versa, this proves one thing DONT EVER TRUST A NATIONALIST even in a friendly conversation. they stink. but then who does he think dr busuttil is taking for a ride. the gonzi pn from the dirt and slime that is now oozing out of pieta gates guarded by thugs,it was evident that the gonzipn knew about jpos enivonmental volte face all the way. those who tried to cover up this scandal are guilty of the same scandal themselves and they will now have to pay for it.
Christian Thorn
No recorded transcript this time as the Gonzi Oligarchy tend to record all conversations!
Joseph Angileri
Issa minn imissu li kien hu li tkellem jew wassal l-informazzjoni....veru tal-misthija kif ma jisthux jirrakontaw lill-media ma jafux li l-poplu mghadux mazzun u ftit huma dawk li jemmnu x'jghajdu l-partiti specjalment lill dawn it-tnejn PBO u SB. Issa wkoll dahal fix-xena Gordon Pisani. Kaz ta' hawwadni ha nifhem fostom ma ssibx wiehed b'argument li jreggi kollox hearsay, kif jghajdu l-avukati 'detto del detto'...iktar telf ta' voti ghax il-poplu sar hafna inteligenti skond il-ministru ta' l-Edukazzjoni u ghaldaqstant mhux ser jemmen dawn il-hrejjef ta' Isopu jew tan-Nannu Pep. Hekk kfi tibda tisma jew iddawar lis-stazzjon jew tieqaf taqra. Quo Vadis issa minn imissu l-aqwa li mhux jien!!
Basil Borg
Simon is on a 'winning' spree: first he won for us the famous 'burden sharing'whose repercussions will be felt on our future generations for ever...indeed a historical burden that be easily compared to that of Don Gonsalvo Monroy in the early middle ages; then we got, or nearly got, if it were for him, the ACTA agreement that punishes the little man- suppresses his freedom of expression,whilst rewarding big business with greed and a big brother legislation; and now, out of the blues, an other triumph for Simon: the special delegate of the now sinking GonziPN, and the GonziPN spokesman and spinning and weaving incorporated! Fuq tlieta toqghod il-borma!
Noel Cutajar
Ara kemm huma nies giddiebin! Is-sahhara qalet li dan id-diskors JM qalu waqt party u issa hemm busuttil i jghid li qalu waqt titjiera...mela party jew ken hemm in flight entertainment... http://daphnecaruanagalizia.com/2012/07/once-a-super-one-hatchet-man-always-a-super-one-hatchet-man-2/
john mercieca
allura sur simon wara erba snin issa tkellimt?.nahseb ha jiddisplacik li dhalt fija din simon ghax ha telliflek il kredibilta li kellik habib.Simon isma minni u oqod il boghod kemm tista minn GONZIPN u fitexx li issib lura il-partit nazzjonalista habib.
fufa
"The information he disclosed was more than enough for me to easily conclude that JPO was the PL target. I immediately passed on this info to my secretary general, Joe Saliba." .... Hekk qal Dr Simon. Mela obzoqgha. Mela kontu tafu b'kollox. Ma kien hemm xejn sorpriza kif ghid tejdu intom? Lil JPO ghaliex ma ghidulux x'hin kontu tafu? Mhux ghalhekk l-ahjar li tmorru ghal-elezzjoni, ghax kull meta qed tifthu halqkom qed twaqqghu l-gebla fuq saqajkom. Shabek jghidu li ma kienu jafu xejn u inti kont cert se jigri. Taqblu ma xulxin, ukoll.!
louis fenech
@EDYJOYCE - IT WAS JOSEPH MUSCAT WHO HELPED THEM TO COME TO THAT CONCLUSION.
John Azzopardi
very nice very nice. Let us know crown Busittil PN leader.
MARIO XUEREB
GIDEB STIL FAXXISTA
Mark Borg
Ohrog ir-recording Simon! Jekk m'ghandekx, HADD mhu se jemmnek hlief l-imzazen. Int, il-partit tieghek u kapo tieghek tliftu KULL kredibbilta'.
ESOPE
DEAR MR.DR.SAINT SIMON IF YOUR CREDIBILITY IN THIS CASE MATCHES THE ONE RESULTED IN THE HUNTER'S CASE,TO GETHER WITH YOUR PATRIARCH E.UFF. A THAN WE MAY BELIEVE YOU.
MARIO XUEREB
bhall ma kont ghadt jien, issa kollox ha jivvintaw fuq joseph, basta ghas siggu tal-poter, basta nibqghu iwweldjati ma dak is siggu.
parla piu piano
Diga bdejna naraw kif ser indefsu lil Simon. Issa daqt jispicca liebes ta nurse bil-bagalja bis-salib fuqha.Il-klikka tal-PN diga bdiet tara kif ser tpoggi l-leader li jmiss ikun mix-xaqliba taghha.Manuvri kemm trid, minn partita nies li pappew kemm felhu.Issa ejjew habbtu l-bibien.
tony fava
Dear Simon and PBO. I refer you to the Times of Malta blog of the 25 July at 11.28 am- UNEMPLOYMENT UP 7.8%. This is what we care about and not your paprati and your attempts sabiex tahbu ix-xemx bl-arbiel. Remember dearest Simon that once before the EU referendum you insisted that very few foreigners would come to Malta to take Maltese jobs as the trend was for them to go to Northern countries. If you really care just come near the Sliema Police Station and see for yourself the several vans and trucks coming to pick up all sorts of foreigners to do Maltese jobs. This happens all over the Island. So please stop acting and trying to divert Maltese public opinion. And by the way what about the 20,000 jobs created by Gonzipn. It simply does not work out.
eddy privitera
WILL DR. SIMON BUSUTTIL,OR ANYONE ELSE FROM GONZIPN, NOW EXPLAIN HOW COME THEY CAME TO THE CONCLUSION THAT DR. PULLICINO ORLANDO WAS THE CANDIDADTE INVOLVED, AND NOT SOME OTHER CANDIDATE FROM THE LIST OF OVER A HUNDRED CANDIDATES ?????
GRACE PAVIA
Two persons have learnt a lesson here. Muscat has learned his lesson as look, he is not giving away Labour's electoral manifesto now. Busuttil learnt it is better to promote freedom of expression as otherwise he would have had his tongue cut short if he continued to support ACTA as avidly as he did.
guido cutajar
Ara gejna pajjiz tan nuna.. kullhadd jukza x`ghamel dal u x`ghamel l-iehor. Kieku tafu min huwa serju x`jidhaq bikhom, l-anqas tohorgu mid dar.Issa il poplu x`tinterressah storja li ilha li spiccat u midfuna 4 snin.Min ghawn nindunaw kemm qeghedin nahlu il hin immorru nivvutaw ghal politikanti tan nej li ghawn bhal issa. Qiskhom tfal ta l-iskola.Il poplu irid ikun jaf kif mhux ser jitkisser aktar bil politika li qeghedin toffru.Il poplu x`ala il bocci mill l-istorja Mistra. Il poplu irid li ikun jaf jekk ic cekk tal paga uhiex ser jittiekillu aktar, u mela dawn il hmerijiet..Sur Busutill, mela ma ghandekx x`tghamel Brussels jew.
Anthony Galea
Of course that Simon Busuttil can say that "The information he disclosed was more than enough for me to easily conclude that JPO was the PL target. It was PN official that leaked the story about Pullicino Orlando to Alfred Sant. So it was easy for them to make one plus one and at the lowest hint that the trick is working!
m borg
Maybe Simon can produce a recording of what Joseph told him, seeing how gonzipn love of recording each others conversation. Otherwise its his word against Joseph's and going by the way Simon lied about ACTA there is no way that his claims are credible. Not that it matters now who said what. The fact remains that gonzi and cohorts knew about the matter and Simon looks like he knew also therefore he is also accessory to the crime. GONZIPN BLATANTLY LIED to the People.
Andre` Vella
Who cares!! I can't believe in teh midst of so many problems, the parliament is on holiday and we have to watch this crappy drama unfold before our eyes! Shame on both parties
kop064
Dr. Busuttil ahjar min flok toqod taqla l hama ta erbgha snin ilu, tara kif il PN il-lum se jisma l karbiet tal-poplu bhal ma qallek taghmel siehbek il prim-ministru. Dawn l - affarijiet ta minn fejn gibtu l informazzjoni - jekk dejjem hija vera ghax il-poplu ma ghadux jemminkom, il-poplu ma jinteressahx
Tyler Durden
Skuzani ha nghida imma l strategija ta GONZIPN qeghdin ifakkruni f dik d diska ta meta konna ghadna zghar: "Mhux jien , mhux jien, mhux jien mama'" ..... Nies onesti jiehu ir responsabilitajiet taghhom u jaraw dejjem kif jitghallmu minnhom ghal giehom u n nies li ivotalhom. Ghax issa tipo illhom sejrin kif gew imsejha BLAME GAMES.
Tyler Durden
Skuzani ha nghida imma l strategija ta GONZIPN qeghdin ifakkruni f dik d diska ta meta konna ghadna zghar: "Mhux jien , mhux jien, mhux jien mama'" ..... Nies onesti jiehu ir responsabilitajiet taghhom u jaraw dejjem kif jitghallmu minnhom ghal giehom u n nies li ivotalhom. Ghax issa tipo illhom sejrin kif gew imsejha BLAME GAMES.
Toninu
Mela l-ewwel hargu FZD u BFA b'din il hlieqa u ma ippruvaw XEJN, imbaghad hareg PBO bl-istess hlieqa u ma pprova XEJN,issa hareg l-abbati ta Gonzi Simon Busuttil li qed jghid li Joseph kien qal lilu personalment. Simon jekk trid tkun kredibbli PROVE IT.
Oreste Dalli
Simon INTI MHUX PARTI MILL KLIKKA KIF JISTA XI HADD JEMNEK ???? DAN BIEX TAPARSI ISSAHHU L-ARGUMENT BLA BASI LI GHANDKHOM INTI XI FROGA OHRA MUR GHAMEL BHAL MA GHAMILT HU IVVUTAJT GHALL ACTA
Matrix
The importance in this story is not who told who, but the way GonziPN spinned the Mistra saga when they knew that JPO wasn't as innocent as they made him out to be. RCC said in a recent interview that he advised his family to give their last voting preference to JPO.We are still waiting for an apology from GonziPN to Dr Alfred Sant.No amount of spinning from an ex so called civil servant and an expert in sending emails about a story that happened 4 years ago, is going to make the Maltese forget the mess GonziPN is in.So please Simon Busuttil pull the other one
godwin scerri
xtirsisti simon, jider li gonzi qiad flahhar sieghat ta lagonija. domt biex hriegt bija din listorja. ghadek mhux interresat li tohrog ghall elezjoni generali, jew bhal ma gralek fuq l'ACTA biddilt il hsieb. Jekk tried tkun kredibli Simon, kun ghonest, ghax sa issa ma konc onnest.Qatt smajt bil proverbju, A DROWNING MAN WILL CATCH AT A STRAW, U HEKK QIAD JAMEL IL pn.
Noel Cutajar
Allura jibqa l-fatt li kienu jafu li kien hemm it-tbabis u xorta riedu jaghttu kollox...l-aqwa li nghidu li kien Joseph Muscat li kixef kollox...mhux li nghidu li kien hemm il-hmieg. Dak ma jaqbilx.
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