Manuel Delia was Adrian Delia's ghostwriter during leadership campaign, court told

Repubblika activist and blogger Manuel Delia wrote Adrian Delia’s opinion pieces during the Nationalist Party leadership campaign, the court heard

Repubblika activist Manuel Delia (left) was PN leader Adrian Delia's (right) ghostwriter during his leadership campaign according to court testimony
Repubblika activist Manuel Delia (left) was PN leader Adrian Delia's (right) ghostwriter during his leadership campaign according to court testimony

Pierre Portelli, head of the PN’s media, has told a court that Repubblika activist Manuel Delia acted as ghostwriter for Adrian Delia during the leadership campaign.

The executive chairperson of MediaLink Communications, was testifying in a libel case filed by Manuel Delia against MediaLink editor Robert Cremona.

Portelli told Magistrate Rachel Montebello that he had been informed of the Right of Reply filed by Manuel Delia following a Net News story in which it was reported that the PN parliamentary group voted in favour of a law allowing cannabis cultivation in Malta when this was not true.

In a subsequent blog post, Manuel Delia argued that he had only reported that Adrian Delia cut short a debate on the matter in the parliamentary group and failed to declare the interest of his wife’s family and a close aide of his in the sector.

From the witness stand, Portelli explained that he had instructed his staff not to publish the right of reply.

“I had given the instruction that this wasn’t to be published as it was a Right of Reply to a Right of Reply. I am also aware of what Manuel Delia was writing about Adrian Delia with regards to the legalisation of cannabis because of a family connection.

“Besides this I’ve known Manuel Delia for a long time. We were at university together. He has a very good pen and I had invited him to write a number of articles. I had offered him a job as an editor but he wanted twice as much money as I was offering,” Portelli said.

He then explained that in the summer of 2017 during the PN leadership race, Adrian Delia had thrown his hat into the ring and Portelli was asked to help.

“It was agreed that Manuel Delia would be a ghostwriter for Adrian Delia’s articles from August to September. In September after Adrian won, Manuel wrote to me asking for payment,” Portelli testified.

But it was when Delia mentioned “other clients” that Portelli grew alarmed. He had no idea or control over who these clients were, he said.

This led to a potential conflict of interest which he as editor would have no idea about, Portelli said.

“From then on, I had to take everything he wrote as having been written for a particular client,” testified Portelli.

“In view of his statement that he had other clients, and therefore that it could not be known whether he was writing for them, I felt it would not be right to allow him a right of reply from a right of reply,” Portelli said.

The case continues on February 20.