Updated | Former media chief draws first blood: ‘Jason Azzopardi must control himself on social media’

Recently resigned Media.Link chairman Pierre Portelli has insisted that there is a group of people that had taken over the party and that was determined to ensure that it didn't move forward

Pierre Portelli resigned his post as chairman of the PN's media last night saying he wanted to be free to speak out against those damaging the party
Pierre Portelli resigned his post as chairman of the PN's media last night saying he wanted to be free to speak out against those damaging the party

Outgoing Media.Link chairman Pierre Portelli has hit out at the a group of people within the Nationalist Party, who he said are determined to keep the party from moving forward.

Portelli uploaded a Facebook post after the meeting, in which he said that he had resigned his post in order to be able to speak out freely, and unshackled by the responsibility of an official position.

In comments following the meeting uploaded by the Labour Party’s ONE on Tuesday, Portelli insisted that these people’s behaviour made them unfit to be in a political party.

“After today’s meeting, I heard and confirmed what I wrote in my letter to the leader, and I saw the movements of people who don’t deserve to be in any party,” Portelli said.

He singled out former executive committee president Mark Anthony Sammut, as a person that had hurt him personally as well as the part’s finances. He said he could accept Sammut wanting to resign, but insisted that “spending a whole week attacking the party through the media” was “childish”.

Portelli insisted that “these people” want to create a leadership vacancy without knowing “what they want” or who they would like to replace Adrian Delia. He insisted that the party couldn’t go through another leadership race.

“I can’t see people sitting next to me in the same executive, texting and telling people exactly what is happening,” Portelli said.

READ MORE: Pierre Portelli resigns as chairman of Nationalist Party media

He insisted that the PN had been overcome by a small group of people to are no longer able to reason when certain subjects are brought up. A number of MPs, including former leader Simon Busuttil and MEP David Casa were reported to have been angered by Portelli discussing the late Daphne Caruana Galizia during yesterday’s meeting.  

“Certain people can’t hear particular things because they lose all form of reason,” he said.  

Turning to the PN’s parliamentary group, which will be meeting this evening, Portelli said it was divided into three groups: those who support Delia, those who will not support him at all costs, and “the largest group that places the party above everything else”.

This group, he said, had so far not been convinced that there should be a vote of no confidence in Delia.

Earlier: Jason Azzopardi must control himself

Portelli also accused Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi, who in recent months had become more vocal in his public criticism of the PN and its leader Adrian Delia, of shooting from the hip and posting indiscriminately on social media.

 “It’s not only him to be fair. There are other people, including some who support Adrian Delia, who sometimes shoot from the hip too much,” Portelli said, adding that the country had not yet “mastered social media”.

“This is a global experiment that has to be tested in Malta… I think Facebook can carry out a study here today, because social media has taken over.”

Social media platforms like Facebook, Portelli said, gave everyone a platform to say what they wanted. “Everyone is a journalist and everyone can upload whatever they want. I don’t think an MP should be able to just shoot from the hip like that. If you want to do so, and even in that case you must be careful, at least do what I did, don’t remain in your position and you will be free to say whatever you want.”

He said the party couldn’t have a situation where an MP like Azzopardi, a spokesperson for the environment, is “obsessed” with a different sector.

Azzopardi, a lawyer by profession, was made the PN’s environment spokesperson in a reshuffle undertaken by PN leader Adrian Delia back in April of last year. Delia appointed himself as the party’s spokesperson on Azzopardi’s previous portfolio for justice, despite Azzopardi having in recent years taken the lead in drafting legislation and legal challenges to government decisions, on behalf of the PN.

Portelli stressed that he did not want to take anything away from “the validity and exceptional legal mind” Azzopardi has. “What I would like is for him to control himself on social media.”

“At certain points, he was close to Adrian Delia. Go and see the cases [Delia] filed in court. He always found [Azzopardi’s] support, he was next to him outside of court, nodding his head. Then something happens, and goes off and shoots from the hip.

“I am naming him as an example of what we shouldn’t be, because this party can’t afford to lose more minds. It’s won’t be good for the PN to lose a legal mind like Jason’s but he must also help himself. He can’t just shoot from the hip whenever something happens.”