PN should call investigation into Yorgen Fenech bribery claims, former head of party media says

Pierre Portelli says PN should launch internal investigation, led by former ECHR judge Giovanni Bonello, into claims of attempted bribery by Yorgen Fenech

Former head of PN media Pierre Portelli
Former head of PN media Pierre Portelli

The former head of the Nationalist Party’s media has said the party should launch its own internal investigation into claims made in court by Daphne Caruana Galizia murder middleman Melvin Theuma that Yorgen Fenech had offered money to a PN official for David Casa not to be re-elected in the May 2019 European elections.

Pierre Portelli told MaltaToday that he seconded PN MP David Thake’s request for an internal investigation into the matter.

Portelli suggested that the investigation be led by former European Court of Human Rights judge Giovanno Bonello, to ensure everything was above board.

Asked whether he was the official who allegedly received the offer of a payment from Fenech, Portelli denied this. “I assure you no offer was made to me,” he said.

“I was in the campaign team at the time, and I received no offer. Had I received one, I wouldn’t have accepted it. Moreover, our team made no distinction between any PN MEP candidates.” At the time, Portelli was at the helm of the PN media, before resigning in June last year.

The claim that Fenech - the man charged with masterminding Caruana Galizia’s murder - had offered money to the PN to obstruct Casa’s election bid was first made by Thake on TV programme Xarabank in 2019.

Portelli said that, when he had first heard the claim from Thake, he had initially dismissed it. “When David Thake made the allegation, I might not have taken it seriously due to the animosity he used to create within the party.”

Now that the claim had been repeated in court by Theuma, the matter had become serious, he said.

“Now that one of the men involved in Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder have made the claim, this makes it serious, and the party cannot just not do anything about it.”

“The police themselves should have sent for everyone when the allegation was first made last year. But there is also a need for answers from within the party. And we need them by appointing someone of credibility like Giovanni Bonnello [to head the investigation],” he said.

Portelli added that he had written to Thake to inform he that he would back a motion for an internal investigation on the allegation.

This newsroom is informed that Portelli will be summoned for a meeting with the police’s Economic Crimes Unit (ECU) on the matter in the coming days. Portelli, however, said that he had not yet received any communication from the police in this regard.

ECU police earlier today held a meeting with Thake in relation to the claims.

Yesterday, Nationalist leader Adrian Delia filed an affidavit saying that he was never approached by Fenech to impede the re-election of any of his party’s candidates.