Updated | PN challenges Mallia to come clean on his relationship with driver

Home affairs ministry has this evening denied that Manuel Mallia’s driver Paul Sheehan, who is facing charges of attempted murder, was part of the minister’s election campaign team

PN secretary-general Chris Said • Photo and Video by Ray Attard
PN secretary-general Chris Said • Photo and Video by Ray Attard
Chris Said on Kurt Farrugia's role in Sheehan shooting incident • Photo by Ray Attard

The Nationalist Party today challenged home affairs minister Manuel Mallia to come clean on his relationship with his driver in the aftermath of the shooting incident which has dominated the headlines for the past two weeks. 

Highlighting the latest developments, PN Secretary General Chris Said said "it's now clear that Mallia also lied when he claimed that he did not know Sheehan before he was assigned as his driver."

Today the PN media revealed that Mallia’s driver Paul Sheehan, who is facing attempted murder charges for shooting on an unarmed man in a car is well-known by the minister and even campaigned for Mallia.

The reports said that Sheehan, who lives in Mallia’s home district, accompanied the minister on house visits during the 2013 electoral campaign.

On the fateful night of the shooting, Sheehan also accompanied Mallia’s daughter to his mother’s house in Gzira. 

This contradicts Mallia’s claims that he was not close to Sheehan and that the driver had been assigned to him by the police force, rather than being hand-picked as all other ministers’ drivers are.

However, the home affairs ministry evening denied that Manuel Mallia’s driver Paul Sheehan was on the minister’s election campaign team.

“People who accompanied Mallia in his door-to-door visits are well known and part of the campaign team of which Sheehan never formed part of.”  

This, the statement added, can be confirmed by the people on the campaign team.

Moreover, Said asked "What time did Mallia call his driver Paul Sheehan? What did the two tell each other? What were Mallia's instructions?"

Said also raised questions on the OPM communications director Kurt Farrugia's role in what opposition MP Jason Azzopardi described as "a series of pathological lies."

Said and Azzopardi also asked whether Farrugia informed the Prime Minister of the statement’s content before approving it and sending it to the media.

“Who did Kurt Farrugia speak to before the approving the statement which was issued almost two hours after the incident took place? I find it very hard to believe that Farrugia did not speak to the Prime Minister. Its possible but highly improbable,” Said said.

Reiterating the opposition’s call for Manuel Mallia’s sacking, Said asked “Is Joseph Muscat defending Mallia because of the OPM’s involvement?”

Said added that Muscat should stop hiding behind the inquiry appointed to investigate the incident and how matters were handled by government and shoulder his responsibilities as Prime Minister.

“As Prime Minister, Muscat has a duty and responsibility to hold his ministers politically responsible and this role cannot be carried out by the inquiry.”

Opposition MP Jason Azzopardi insisted that the people want to know the truth and expect government, “which promised that it would be the most accountable and transparent government since independence” to come clean on the incident.

Stressing that  Mallia was not new to controversy, Azzopardi listed a series of occasions in which he claimed the home affairs minister had lied or twisted facts.

Azzopardi went on to ask "who emerged with the hit-and-run theory and that the shots were fired in the air.”