[WATCH] Chris Fearne flatly denies Lou Bondì was part of his campaign team

Labour leadership hopeful Chris Fearne was interviewed on TVM’s Xtra

Chris Fearne
Chris Fearne

Chris Fearne has denied that former TVM presenter Lou Bondì and X Factor Malta producer Anton Attard were part of his leadership campaign team.

The leadership contestant was forced to deny the rumours fuelled by Robert Abela’s supporters and making the rounds among Labour Party members.

“Lou Bondi is a long-time friend but these rumours that he and Anton Attard are part of my campaign are completely untrue,” Fearne said, blaming the unfounded claims on those outside the PL who had “an interest in sowing division”.

Bondi and Attard, a former campaign manager for the Nationalist Party, are toxic names among the PL’s grassroots, who see the men as political mercenaries.

Bondì has denied being part of Fearne’s campaign.

The rumours were at the heart of a heated exchange on Facebook this morning between senior campaign aides to both Fearne and Abela.

Speaking on TVM’s Xtra hosted by Saviour Balzan, Fearne pre-emptively also denied rumours that if he is elected leader, people in various ministries will lose their job.

The Deputy Prime Minister also denied the vote tempering allegations made by Abela, insisting the process was watertight.

Fearne used the occasion to address another rumour doing the rounds that he had promised Cabinet members and backbenchers posts in exchange for their allegiance.

“What I promise, I deliver. I do not promise what I cannot deliver, which is why I have promised nothing to anyone,” Fearne said.

He poured accolades on Cabinet members, insisting that over the past seven years they delivered well.

“This team will be there on Monday and the day after but there is also a team of enthusiastic backbenchers,” he said, adding it will be his prerogative as prime minister to appoint a new Cabinet.

Fearne insisted that as prime minister he will be shouldering the decisions that need to be taken and would ensure there is no single person in Castille who controls everything.

“I will have my advisors because it will be presumptuous to believe I understand in everything… but having a chief of staff that decides matters was a system that did not work,” he said.

Fearne harped on his disciplined attitude, adding that when faced with the case of a person in his ministry who had allegations hanging over his head, he asked the police to investigate.

“I did not cover up for this person. I am a no-nonsense person… I will leave no one around me who will damage me or my party,” Fearne said.

He said that he would not tolerate conflicts of interest. “I asked a person who was close to me to move aside because a potential conflict of interest was flagged involving her husband,” Fearne added.

He said the institutions in the country had to be strengthened by giving them more resources and ensuring their independence.

Asked about his pledge not to extend the Individual Investor Programme when the capping of applications is exhausted, Fearne said he would immediately start domestic discussions with stakeholders to reform the scheme.

“The IIP has been beneficial and we do have a due diligence system that works but in Europe the scheme is looked upon badly… we need to establish a scheme that does not tarnish our reputation and that is acceptable to the EU,” Fearne said.

On the environment, Fearne said that the country needed to ensure that development continued but stressed the need for enforcement. “It is the cowboys who bother me and this is why we need to ensure better enforcement,” he said.

He predicted that at the next general election, the PN will have a new leader. “After our election on Saturday the PN will turn on its leader and choose another one for the next general election. We do not want to pass through same situation… I want to lead a party that will win elections,” Fearne said, adding he enjoyed the support of Cabinet and the Labour parliamentary group.