Coleiro Preca denies having had role in Paqpaqli supercar event

President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca distances herself from responsibility as patron of Community Chest Fund

President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca
President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca

The President of the Republic has declared she played “absolutely no part” in the organisation of the ‘Paqpaqli ghall-Istrina’ supercar event, but said she attended part of a meeting by the organising team.

Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca issued a statement in the week where her predecessor George Abela suggested to a court that the Office of the President was ultimately responsible for fund-raising events happening under its patronage.

The law courts this week continued to hear evidence about the 2015 Paqpaqli ghall-Istrina tragedy in which a supercar crashed into spectators, injuring several. Members of the organising committee and the supercar driver, British millionaire Paul Bailey, are charged with involuntarily causing grievous bodily harm, as well causing damage to various motor vehicles, through imprudence, carelessness and non-observance of regulations.

READ MORE Paqpaqli supercar crash | Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca hung out to dry by predecessor

The event was organised to raise funds for the Malta Community Chest Fund, which falls under the President's patronage.

The President has renounced her Constitutional immunity to take the witness stand to present the court with the facts as she knew them.

Earlier today, the President refused to comment on George Abela’s court testimony, in which he stated his view that responsibility for events under his patronage “fell squarely upon my shoulders.”

“The Office of the President now feels compelled to rectify a series of inaccuracies surrounding its involvement in this event that bear absolutely no resemblance to the facts,” Coleiro Preca said in a statement on Saturday afternoon.

 “It is correct to state that the Paqpaqli għall-Istrina event, conceived with the noble intention of raising funds for the Malta Community Chest Fund Foundation, came into existence before the President commenced her term in 2014 as President of Malta. But it should be noted that, other than encouraging the Paqpaqli għall-Istrina team to continue to raise funds for the Malta Community Chest Fund Foundation and lending her patronage to the event (as she does with other third-party fundraising events), the President played absolutely no part in the organisation of it.”

Coleiro Preca said she attended part of a meeting in July 2015 by the organising team, but that she took no substantive decisions in this regard. “Nor did the President assume any organisational role in Paqpaqli għall-Istrina. Indeed, it would have been irresponsible for the Head of State, who had no knowledge and no technical expertise in automotive issues, to have done so.”

The President of the Republic is the patron of the Malta Community Chest Fund Foundation, for whose fund-raising the 2015 supercar event was organising.

In her statement, Coleiro Preca said the MCCF’s involvement in Paqpaqli ghall-Istrina was strictly limited to providing administrative support, endorsement, promotion, and covering expenses related to the event.

“Any statement to the contrary is at best misleading and at worst a distortion of the truth,” she said.

She also said that in April 2015, a very deliberate step was taken to create a distinction between the Office of the President and the Malta Community Chest Fund Foundation.

“This radical change in the Malta Community Chest Fund was reflected in its constitution and this is because the Malta Community Chest Fund was formally set up as a foundation regulated by law. Therefore, this change effectively reduced the dependence of the Malta Community Chest Fund Foundation on the Head of State, significantly altering the nature of the link that previously existed between the two.”

In this change, the MCCF foundation retained its role as a fundraiser for, and beneficiary of several initiatives like Paqpaqli ghall-Istrina.

“The Office of the President affirms that ever since this horrific incident took place, its sole objective has been to express solidarity with the victims – and to cooperate with the authorities to ensure the facts are established.

“While seeking to clarify any misconceptions that have arisen, the Office of the President would also like to appeal to everyone to refrain from unhelpful and inaccurate conjecture, which serves no purpose other than to hinder the vital quest for the truth, so that justice can be truly served.”


President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca refused to comment when asked for a reaction to her predecessor's statement in court implying that the current president should shoulder responsibility for the tragedy at Paqpaqli ghall-Istrina event in 2015.

In court on Thursday morning, former president George Abela told the court that as president, he had felt the need to fully shoulder the responsibility of charity events such as Paqpaqli ghall-Istrina. "At the end of the day I believed that responsibility fell squarely upon my shoulders," Abela said, implying that the current president should not have distanced herself as she did last week when she said that the charity event was a third party event, and therefore not the responsibility of the presidency and the Malta Community Chest Fund.

Pushed for a reaction by MaltaToday this morning, Coleiro Preca refused to comment. "Thank you for your interest, but you will receive a statement shortly," she said.

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