PBS chairman denies receiving orders over Norman Vella’s re-deployment

PBS chairman Tonio Portughese says he never had any political pressure or interference in regards to former PBS presenter’s redeployment

PBS chairman Tonio Portughese
PBS chairman Tonio Portughese

PBS chairman Tonio Portughese denied receiving instructions “from above” as claimed by former TVM presenter Norman Vella, adding that the former television presenter was never a PBS employee, but “an immigration officer deployed to PBS.”

However, in comments to MaltaToday, Portughese added that he did not receive any instructions over Vella’s deployment within the civil service structures, but these were handed down to the station’s CEO Anton Attard.

Attard has also denied recieving instructions by Scerri, explaining that the only instructions he received were in writing from the permanent secretary at the home affairs ministry, requesting the services of Vella who was re-deployed back at the immigration department.

“I never had any political pressure or interference in regards to Mr Vella from any quarter including from Mr Silvio Scerri who never spoke to me about Mr Vella,” Portughese said.

Earlier this week, PN candidate Norman Vella claimed that TV presenter John Bundy had told him that it was the home affairs ministry’s chief of staff, Silvio Scerri, who was responsible for his transfer from the Public Broadcasting Services, to the immigration office.

“Bundy told me he had overheard Scerri saying he wanted me out of PBS," Vella told the Employment Commission. Bundy has corroborated Vella’s statements and has publicly declared he has no problem in appearing before the courts “so that the truth comes out”.

Scerri has since accused Bundy of making false claims about him and in filing a libel suit he called on the courts to find Bundy guilty of defamation and of making false allegations aimed at tarnishing his reputation.

Vella, a civil servant who availed himself of unpaid leave to pursue a broadcasting career, had been deployed with the Public Broadcasting Services on the request of the national broadcaster, in 2012. But following Labour’s re-election, he was redeployed back to his original post an immigration officer at the Malta International Airport.

The former broadcaster has since contested the European elections on the Nationalist Party ticket.