Nationalist MP Karol Aquilina to be charged over driving incident

Nationalist MP Karol Aquilina resigns as party spokesperson for justice and parliamentary group secretary pending the outcome of the court case

Updated with the Nationalist Party statement at 1pm

The Nationalist MP Karol Aquilina will be charged over a June 2019 driving incident where he refused to obey police instructions when driving.  

The incident was first brought to light by Labour TV host Karl Stagno Navarra on his weekly evening show ‘Pjazza’. Stagno Navarra had obtained footage from a vehicle’s dashcam following a European ministerial delegation driving from the airport into Valletta for a governmental meeting.  

Dalgħodu ġejt notifikat mill-Pulizija li se jittieħdu passi fil-konfront tiegħi b'rabta ma' dak li seħħ f'Ġunju ta'...

Posted by Karol Aquilina on Tuesday, March 30, 2021

He had showed footage which he says shows Karol Aquilina in his car, apparently blocking the route of the ministerial vehicle despite the orders from two police officers on motorbike, accompanying the vehicle. Karl Stagno Navarra claimed Aquilina refused to give way to the oncoming vehicle. 

He had also filed a standards complaint.  

Aquilina made the announcement on his personal Facebook profile, stating he has notified the Nationalist leader Bernard Grech of his immediate resignation as Justice and Electoral Reform spokesperson and Secretary of the Parliamentary Group.  

“I have no doubt that there will be those who will try to gain a political advantage from the case, by deflecting the people’s attention away from the scandals by the Labour government,” he said.  

Aquilina maintained his innocence, stating he will be defending himself in Court.  

He also said that when government minister Owen Bonnici had been charged with similar accusations surrounding a driving incident, he had retained his post as Justice Minister.  

“We at the Nationalist Party believe and practice higher ethical standards than the Labour Party,” Aquilina said.  

The MP said that he hopes his resignation will serve as an example on how politicians should act ethically.  

PN reaction

In a statement, the Nationalist Party said that Opposition leader Bernard Grech had accepted Aquilina's resignation. 

The party said Aquilina was now free to defend himself in court without the risk of it being exploited for political gain. Grech said that this was in line with the party's beliefs and practices.

The party said this was contrary to the prime minister's behaviour regarding Education Minister Justyne Caruana and the €5,000 per month consultancy contract she gave purely based on friendship, not skill or qualifications. 

The PN pointed out that the case could not "simply" be closed because the contract had been terminated. "Our country needs more mature and honest politicians," the party said. 

Grech has appointed MP Joe Ellis as Shadow Minister for Justice and Electoral Reforms. 

He has also appointed MP Robert Cutajar as secretary of the Nationalist Party's parliamentary group. 

READ ALSO: Pjazza host Stagno Navarra demands police investigation on Karol Aquilina