Gaffarena files affidavit: ‘Joe Cassar organised meeting with Busuttil, requested papers on John Dalli’

Former health minister Joe Cassar denies Gaffarena’s claims: ‘the truth will out in the libel cases filed by the PN leader’

Former health minister Joe Cassar
Former health minister Joe Cassar

It was former health minister Joe Cassar who allegedly set up a meeting between Simon Busuttil and Joe Gaffarena and asked him “to bring all papers” related to the Daewoo scandal, Gaffarena has claimed in an affidavit.

The businessman yesterday filed the sworn declaration after the PN leader denied having requested a meeting with Gaffarena in the run-up to the 2013 general election. GWU-owned newspaper it-Torca on Sunday carried a news report suggesting that Busuttil had told the Gaffarenas in 2012 that a permit for the Qormi petrol station could be issued in exchange for files related to the Daewoo scandal.

According to the newspaper, the PN “wanted to use the files against John Dalli”.

Busuttil has categorically denied the allegations, saying that the meeting had been requested by Gaffarena, and proceeded to file four libel suits. In a reaction, Joe Gaffarena filed an affidavit contradicting Busuttil’s comments.

“[…] I confirm that Joe Cassar had called me five months before the general election and asked me to go to the PN headquarters to meet Simon Busuttil and to take all my papers.

“My son Mark accompanied me to the meeting and Joe Cassar led us to Busuttil’s office. Once we were inside, Cassar saw that I was empty-handed and asked me why I hadn’t brought the requested papers. I asked what papers he was talking about: ‘what else do you want to know about the petrol station?’ Cassar replied that the papers he wanted were about John Dalli and Daewoo.”

According to Gaffarena’s affidavit, Busuttil “looked at Cassar and angrily stood up and said, ‘Mr Gaffarena knows what he has to do to open’ [the petrol station]. The meeting ended abruptly”.

In a reaction, Cassar issued a statement via the Nationalist Party denying the allegations. He added that the truth will out in the libel cases filed by Simon Busuttil against it-Torca, l-Orizzont, One TV and One Radio.

Joe Gaffarena said he categorically denied requesting the meeting and that it was Cassar who asked him to attend the meeting that he had set up. “It is untrue that I wanted to meet Busuttil so he could sort out the permit for the Qormi petrol station.”

Gaffarena said that the original permit for the Qormi petrol station was issued during the Fenech Adami administration but problems arose when Lawrence Gonzi was elected Prime Minister. “Some two weeks after I invited Gonzi over for dinner, I received a phone call from MEPA telling me to close down the petrol station as they were going to withhold the permit”.

Gaffarena also claimed that, “just before the attacks against my family started”, Frank Psaila – former PN communications director – and Michael Fenech Adami – former Birkirkara mayor and Beppe Fenech Adami’s brother – “visited me at the petrol station and asked for €1,500 in adverts on Net TV”.

“I paid them and I have the VAT receipt signed by Frank Psaila,” Gaffarena added.

He categorically denied “ever asking the Labour Party to favour him in any way or having requested the help of a minister”.