Updated | Michael Falzon thanked, praised by Prime Minister after resignation

Former parliamentary secretary Michael Falzon applauded by Labour faithful amid his defiance in his bid accusing the NAO of political manipulation

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and former parliamentary secretary Michael Falzon • Photos: Chris Mangion
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and former parliamentary secretary Michael Falzon • Photos: Chris Mangion
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and former parliamentary secretary Michael Falzon • Photos: Chris Mangion
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and former parliamentary secretary Michael Falzon • Photos: Chris Mangion

Just days after resigning in the face of a damning NAO audit report into the expropriation of a Valletta palazzo by Mark Gaffarena, Labour MP Michael Falzon put up a brave face as he returned to his constituents in Gzira for the first time since he stood down as parliamentary secretary.

Labour activists who flocked to Gzira this morning to listen to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s speech appeared unperturbed by the findings of the report and suspicions of collusion in the €1.65 million compensation to Gaffarena – instead giving Falzon a warm welcome and an applause.

Falzon – who will remain a Labour backbencher after being replaced by Deborah Schembri as parliamentary secretary responsible for the lands department – sat relaxed in the front row with other MPs and idly listened to the speeches delivered by his peers and Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

Muscat, whose party is undoubtedly still reeling from the huge blow delivered by the Gaffarena scandal, had words of praise in store for Falzon and for fellow Labour backbencher Manuel Mallia, thanking them “from the bottom of [his] heart” for assuming political responsibility.

And amid a thunderous applause by the hundreds of Labour supporters who gathered at the Orpheum Theatre in Gzira, Muscat hugged Michael Falzon.

Prior to Muscat’s speech, Labour MP Silvio Schembri also sought to defend Michael Falzon, with the young MP claiming that Opposition leader Simon Busuttil had no moral authority to preach good governance as he was surrounded by Nationalist MPs who themselves have been embroiled in controversies.

On Saturday, Falzon said that he was baffled “why [his] head was placed on the chopping block” and took exception at the strong language used by the NAO. The former parliamentary secretary accused the NAO of drawing up a foregone conclusion to force him out of office and claimed that certain statements within the conclusion sound identical to a speech by Simon Busuttil.

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