[WATCH] Close to the construction industry? 'Criticism works in my favour,' Delia says

PN leadership hopeful Adrian Delia confirms owning a 9% share in a company doing redevelopment work

PN leadership candidate, Adrian Delia
PN leadership candidate, Adrian Delia

Lawyer Adrian Delia has shrugged off rumours that he is close to individuals in the construction industry, arguing that this was not negative criticism.

“I hugely respect this sector and they respect me. It’s criticism intended to hurt me, but it has personally helped me,” Delia, who has multiple construction clients in his profession as a lawyer, said.

Delia told Xtra Sajf host Saviour Balzan that the rumours, intended to call into question his candidature for the leadership election of the Nationalist Party, had actually worked in his favour.

He also confirmed holding a 9% share in a company that is currently redeveloping a property.

“I only have that 9% share and I have no other shareholding [in other construction companies],” Delia said, who went on to deny holding any trusts or accounts in foreign banks.

Unprompted, he also denied being a relative of the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Keith Schembri – according to Delia, someone had also spread this false rumour about him.

Delia is one of four candidates eyeing the post of leader of the PN, which is to hold the first round of elections on September 2, to be followed by a second election – open to paid-up members of the PN – on September 16.

The former president of the Birkirkara football club, Delia is projecting himself as one who could deliver “a new way” for the PN. However, his activism in the party started at the age of 17, followed by a stint with the PN media during the 1990s when he was a journalist and hosted his own radio show.

“I wasn’t a public figure but politics have affected me… I’ve always felt attracted to politics and now I feel it’s my turn to give something back to the party and the country,” Delia said, when asked what inspired him to run for the leadership election.

He describes himself as an “outsider” because he was never immersed in the party structures.

His legal profession started off as an in-house lawyer with the then Mid-Med bank, after which he moved on to the industrial sector, served as a lawyer in public procurement and made his name as a lawyer in commercial litigation.

For 10 years, he served as a lawyer to the Swedish mega-company Skanska, which constructed Mater Dei Hospital. Delia argued that he is no longer involved with Skanska – currently in litigation with the Maltese government over faulty concrete.

“I have no problem in safeguarding the government’s interest… I am no longer their lawyer and haven’t had any contact with them in years,” he told Balzan when asked how he would tackle the issue if he were to be in government.

The father of five is married to Nickie Vella de Fremeaux, a vociferous lawyer who has many a times voiced her opinion on the PN. During the election, she had described Franco Debono – who fell out with the PN prior to the 2013 elections – as having valid ideas and who would be an asset to the PN.

But Delia recently told reporters that Debono was no longer relevant to the PN, prompting the former PN MP to call Delia “opportunist, megalomaniac, a hunger for power”.

For Delia, his wife is his “biggest asset”, but when Balzan pointed out the two’s different positions on Debono, Delia immediately replied that he was the one running for politics – and not his wife.

Insisting that he respected Debono as an individual, Delia reiterated that Debono’s place is no longer with the PN.
Openly backing Delia is Pierre Portelli, who is currently content editor at The Malta Independent.

“Portelli is an old friend of mine, as well as a client. We respect each other. He has helped me with my presentation on the media and I would be happy if he were to submit his nomination [for the post of secretary general] because he has a lot to offer,” Delia added.

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