PN’s door creaks open for blacklisted former MPs

At least three former Nationalist MPs declared personae non grata under the Simon Busuttil leadership were featured in the party’s media this week, a sign of the PN relaxing on its ‘blacklist’

Former MP Franco Debono
Former MP Franco Debono

At least three former Nationalist MPs declared personae non grata under the Simon Busuttil leadership were featured in the party’s media this week, a sign of the PN relaxing on its ‘blacklist’.

Former MP Franco Debono, who was instrumental in securing the downfall of the Gonzi administration in 2012, was recently featured on Net TV to discuss a sensational case that concerned his client. Days later, former minister Ninu Zammit – suspended from the part over Swissleaks revelations showing he had not declared his earnings in parliament – was given front-page coverage for winning three libels suits against former Labour leader Alfred Sant. And earlier this week, former minister Michel Falzon, who suffered the same fate as Zammit in the Swissleaks aftermath, was also invited as a panellist on Net TV.

Former minister Michael Falzon
Former minister Michael Falzon

But Media.Link chairman Pierre Portelli, a close ally of new leader Adrian Delia, played down the change in policy.

“Since I have become chairman we have decided to open up the station and our media to other personalities who are not associated with the PN today,” Portelli said.

Former ministers Michael Falzon and Ninu Zammit were suspended by the PN’s administrative council in February 2015 after the two were shown to have had Swiss private bank accounts during their time as MPs. They never declared the existence of the monies. In the last two years they were blacklisted by the party media and were frequently attacked on social media.

Former Minister Ninu Zammit
Former Minister Ninu Zammit

Earlier in February, party spokesperson Jesmar Baldacchino told MaltaToday that the party had not reviewed any of its past decisions following the Swissleaks suspensions.

“But former minister Ninu Zammit won three libel suits against Alfred Sant, Labour leader aspirant Miriam Dalli as well as the current One TV and V18 chairman Jason Micallef. They all allowed the spreading of lies against a former minister. That was and remains condemnable,” he said of the front-page prominence In-Nazzjon gave to the libel decision.

This week Portelli said when asked specifically about Falzon’s participation in a discussion programme on NET: “He may have been suspended from the party but not from being present or discussing on our media.”

The same media blackout applied to Franco Debono, a former PN parliamentarian and a harsh critic of the Nationalist party under Lawrence Gonzi and Simon Busuttil. After the last election result, Debono claimed that members of the public had suggested to him that he should contest the PN leadership even though before the May election, he had been toying with a Labour candidature.

On Debono, Portelli said that he had been invited to comment on a judicial matter not a political matter.

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