Godfrey Farrugia to lead inquiry into PD's 'village escort' insult to Labour MP

In a damage-control exercise, Democratic Party leader Anthony Buttigieg has apologised to Labour MP Julia Farrugia Portelli over a comment on the party's official Facebook page, referring to her as a 'village escort' • Party has launched an internal inquiry

Godfrey Farrugia to lead inquiry into PD's 'village escort' insult to Labour MP
Godfrey Farrugia to lead inquiry into PD's 'village escort' insult to Labour MP

The secretary general of the Democratic Party has been tasked with heading a board inquiry which will look into the circumstances leading to a comment being posted on the PD's Facebook page, MaltaToday has learned.

The board has been given 10 days to revert back with recommendations on how to proceed following the media backlash that the comment instigated.

In a terse statement to the media, the PD apologised for describing Farrugia Portelli as a "village escort" in a comment on its Facebook page on Tuesday and said it took full responsibility for its actions and those of its members. 

"The statement published on the party's Facebook page is not representative of the party’s views and should not have been published," the party said.

The comment has since been deleted from the party's timeline but quickly prompted outrage from politicians on both sides of the House.

PD leader Anthony Buttigieg later apologised directly to Farrugia Portelli. He said the comment was posted by an individual in the party who had since been reprimanded but would not reveal the person's identity or role within the party. Buttigieg said it was definitely not one of the party's two MPs.

The comment was posted with a video from a plenary session in parliament last Monday in which Speaker Anglu Farrugia ordered PD MP Godfrey Farrugia to leave the Chamber after interrupting Farrugia Portelli when she argued in favour of introducing embryo freezing and commenting that, unlike Marlene Farrugia, not everyone could afford to pay €50,000 for the treatments out of pocket.

Taking to her own Facebook page, Farrugia Portelli said that she had been insulted twice in 24 hours, once during her speech in Parliament and then on Facebook.

"This [village escort] is a harsh word, loathsome, call it what you may," she wrote. "I do not want to insult anyone, I do not want to stoop to that level, but it is clear that the PD's comment has hurt many other people."

Farrugia Portelli said she was proud of her roots and that she felt the PD's comment had hurt every boy and girl born in any village around Malta. 

In a statement, the Labour Party said the party had succumbed to "sexist and elitist politics" and said that what happened revealed Godfrey and Marlene Farrugia's true colours.

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