Disowned PL mayor turned Nationalist candidate says Labour lost its social roots

'This isn't the Labour Party I knew': Charles Azzopardi criticises the Labour Party over €17,000-per-month contract to PM's law firm

A former Labour Party mayor, now set to contest the election under the Nationalist Party, said the PL has lost its social roots after reports surfaced of a €17,000 per month contract awarded to the Prime Minister’s law firm between 2001 and 2020.

Charles Azzopardi was not allowed by the PL to contest the 2019 local elections on its behalf following allegations of corruption and nepotism when he was mayor. He has since defected to the Nationalist Party and will contest the election as a PN candidate.

“The Labour Party has lost its social roots,” he said. “This government only accommodates those in its close circles.”

Azzopardi was speaking at a press conference on Robert Abela’s PA retainer contract, which doubled to €17,000 a month over a six-year period after the Labour Party came into government.

The contract was first awarded to Abela’s father, George Abela, in 2001 under the Nationalist Party when he was a partner with planning law expert Ian Stafrace.

When the contract expired in 2011, the PA opted to extend the contract by handing direct orders to Abela Advocates.

The contract was fixed at €7,376 a month between 2013 and 2015, and eventually increased to €12,292 when Abela Advocates began to represent the PA in Environment and Planning Review Tribunal appeals.

Between 2018 and 2019, the contract rose to €17,110.

“This isn’t the Labour Party I knew and read about in the past,” Azzopardi said. “This movement entered government with its own interests in mind. We can’t allow them to continue, and we must give them a sign through our vote.”

Jerome Caruana Cilia, a PN candidate, said that Robert Abela is out of touch with the lives of many Maltese and Gozitan workers. He pointed out that this contract alone was the same as two full-time minimum wage jobs.

“Thousands of workers, in public and private jobs, work with determination everyday and sacrifice so much only to receive so much less than that,” he said.

“We have a Prime Minister that is cut off from workers. He’s living in luxury – he can’t understand the experience of workers for whom €200 a month makes all the difference.”