Updated | [WATCH] Labour MPs say Adrian Delia's inconsistency on Egrant a sign of weak leadership

Labour MPs said the Opposition leader was guilty of dragging the courts into a political argument • The PN react, stating that the Adrian Delia had a right but also a duty to question the court's decision for the sake of public access to information

Labour MPs Robert Abela, Edward Zammit Lewis and Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi were at a press conference at the Labour Centre in Hamrun
Labour MPs Robert Abela, Edward Zammit Lewis and Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi were at a press conference at the Labour Centre in Hamrun

Updated at 5:15pm with PN statement

Opposition Leader Adrian Delia's inconsistency in the Egrant saga is a sign of weakness and a lack of leadership, Labour MPs said on Tuesday with the Nationalist Party counterarguing that Delia had in fact been consistent since he was appealing the court's decision not to grant him access to the full Egrant inquiry report. 

Labour MPs said Delia was guilty of pulling the court into a political argument, when he asked it to scrutinise the office of the Attorney General in a case he filed to obtain a copy of the Egrant inquiry report made public last July.

Earlier on Tuesday, the First Hall of the Civil Court denied a request by Opposition leader Adrian Delia to be granted access to the full copy of the Egrant inquiry report.

Addressing a press conference, MPs Robert Abela, Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi and Edward Zammit Lewis criticised Delia for his lack of consistency on the matter, noting that a year ago Delia had expressed doubts about whether it was strategically beneficial for the PN to make the allegation its own.

"Back in 2018, Delia said that former PN leader Simon Busuttil had made the Egrant frame-up his own and had burdened the PN with claims that Egrant belongs to the Prime Minister. Now Delia is doing the same thing when he filed this case for the AG to be scrutinised and refusing to bow his head to a court decision," Zammit Lewis said. 

He insisted that the claim that Egrant belonged to the Prime Minister was the biggest lie in Malta's political history and one which led to an early election and threatened the stability of a nation that was doing well.

READ MORE: ‘Stop playing the Egrant victim card’, Simon Busuttil tells Prime Minister

"A year ago, Delia then went on to say that the AG's decision not to publish the entire inquiry report was biased," Abela said.  "Today the court decided that the AG has acted fairly so that the ongoing criminal proceedings are not compromised. It also vindicated the Prime Minister's correct political decision to not publish the entire report even though he wanted to."

He criticised the Opposition leader for asking Simon Busuttil to suspend himself from Parliament after the court decided that Egrant did not belong to the Prime Minister only to back down shortly after. Delia, they said, was also guilty of filing a court case challenging the AG's decision.

"Delia made a legal U-turn because it was a political argument he was trying to make and not a legal one. Today, the court denied all of Delia's pleas and in 150 pages told him that he's wrong on every level," Abela continued.

Zrinzo Azzopardi said the PN's challenge was obvious and that there was a rift in the party that revealed Delia's weak leadership. 

"After Delia made a declaration saying that Simon Busuttil should shoulder responsibility, the PN cracked in two," he said. "The challenge was obvious - Busuttil refused to do this and burdened Delia with the Egrant narrative."

Egrant case is still wide open and Muscat is running scared, PN says

The Nationalist Party said that if Prime Minister Joseph Muscat considered the Egrant case closed, for the PN it was still wide open.

The party again asked what Muscat was afraid of to stop him from publishing the full inquiry report. The Civil Court First Hall, presided by Judge Robert Mangion, decided on Tuesday to deny Opposition Leader Adrian Delia access to the full copy of the Egrant inquiry report, and this based on the possible compromise of ongoing criminal investigations.

“The court also said that the matter is of public interest and the sentence reads that in the opinion of the court it’s not inconsistent with the role of the Opposition Leader to ask for access to information on investigations of political persons,” PN MP Jason Azzopardi said.

Himself and PN MEP candidate David Casa addressed a press conference at the PN centre in Pietà.

Azzopardi told MaltaToday that PN leader Delia had been consistent on wanting the Egrant report published in full, having said on Tuesday that he would appeal the court’s decision in the Constitutional court.

“He doesn’t just have the right but also the duty to appeal the case. The point is this: Joseph Muscat should stop playing hide-and-seek and should stop crying crocodile tears. He knows who Egrant belongs to because Brian Tonna, joined at the hip with Muscat, knows who it belongs to,” Azzopardi insisted, adding that it’s now been ten months since the full report was handed by the first court to the Prime Minister and the public had a right to access it.

Azzopardi claimed that those 1,500 pages of the report that are as yet unpublished may prove significant in helping conclude who the Panama company belongs to and if it belongs to someone close to the Prime Minister.

Casa asked why Muscat was so afraid to publish the report and said that the Prime Minister already had a history of not keeping his word such as when he promised he’d resign if a new gas power station was not completed within 24 months of taking office or that his Chief of Staff Keith Schembri would be obliged to resign if under criminal investigation.

“Who is he protecting and why is he afraid? How does a Prime Minister claim to want to leave after winning two elections with such a majority? He wants to leave today because he’s afraid of tomorrow,” Casa said.