Delia accuses rival of pressuring journalist to abandon leadership debate, Grech says it’s a ‘lie’

Adrian Delia accuses Bernard Grech of trying to influence TVM journalist Ruth Amaira who had to chair a leaders’ debate but the challenger denies the claim

Adrian Delia has accused Bernard Grech of not wanting a leadership election debate
Adrian Delia has accused Bernard Grech of not wanting a leadership election debate

A Nationalist Party leadership contest debate between Adrian Delia and Bernard Grech on Monday appears to have started on the wrong footing.

In a scathing statement on Friday, Delia accused his rival of trying to influence veteran TVM journalist Ruth Amaira, who had been chosen to chair the debate by the PN electoral commission.

Delia said that as a consequence, Amaira informed the commission that she was withdrawing her participation in the debate.

But the claim was immediately denied by Grech, who said it was “a complete lie”.

“The moment we were informed of the debate and the journalist who was to chair it, our team made contact to discuss the format but the journalist informed us that she had turned down the electoral commission’s invitation,” Grech said in a statement.

Grech also denied accusations that he had opposed a debate as part of the leadership contest, insisting that he always emphasised the importance of having a format that did not cause the party more harm than good.

Delia claimed that Grech’s team had opposed a debate between both candidates in the run up to the leadership election but the party’s electoral commission decided otherwise and slotted in a debate for Monday, 28 September.

“I condemn the fact that journalists are not allowed to carry out their work without influence,” Delia said.

But in a bizarre twist to the story, the journalist at the centre of the storm said she had never accepted to chair the debate and denied being influenced in her decision.

The PN leadership election will be held on 3 October with early voting starting today and continuing for a whole week.