Updated 2.38pm

Franco Debono made an unscripted appearance on a radio show on Saturday to defend himself, after another guest claimed the former MP wanted a seat at the PN’s top table.

Debono, a lawyer and former Nationalist MP, said fellow lawyer Edward Debono had lied about him.

Edward Debono had expressed scepticism about the former MP being allowed back into the PN. Franco Debono, he claimed, had written on Facebook that he expected to be part of the PN’s leadership as a condition for him returning to the party.

“Debono writes on Facebook that he should not only be a PN member but should lead the party, or be part of its leadership,” Edward Debono said. “He expects to be an integral part right away... as a precondition of him returning to the party. That is not right.”

What Edward Debono said, and how Franco Debono responded.

The claim spurred the former MP into action. Minutes later, Franco Debono showed up at RTK studios, asking for the opportunity to rebut the allegation. Andrew Azzopardi, the radio show’s host, obliged.

“Edward Debono lied about me. I will tolerate opinions, but I will not tolerate lies,” he said as he challenged his namesake to back up his claim with proof.

“I am not going to tolerate people lying about me. I was at home. I have work to do,” Debono said as he challenged his fellow lawyer to present proof to back up his claim.  

“I would like him to show me where I ever demanded, or even expressed a wish, to be part of the PN leadership,” he said.

The lawyer said that while PN voters had named him in surveys as a potential party leader, he had never expressed that wish himself.

Edward Debono reacts

When contacted by Times of Malta, Edward Debono was unable to provide the Facebook post he had alluded to but said he was "sure" that he had read a post in which Franco Debono wrote that "nothing should be excluded" for those reintegrated into the PN.

Times of Malta was also unable to find a post published within the past months in which Debono set any such condition on him returning to the PN. 

Franco Debono's surprise radio show appearance harks back to a similar, higher-profile incident back in 2012 when he showed up unannounced on the set of TV show Xarabank to debate then-PN deputy leader Simon Busuttil.

Busuttil refused to debate him.

Debono, at the time a PN MP, had clashed with party leadership about various issues – from its reluctance to introduce legislative reform to its defence of minister Carm Mifsud Bonnici. The two have since reconciled.

Debono eventually voted down the budget, effectively bringing down his own government. 

PN executive member wants Debono back

He was subsequently frozen out by the PN and quit frontline politics to pursue his legal career. But the Għaxaq lawyer has made no secret of his desire to reignite his political career.

That prospect was given a boost a week ago, when a member of the PN executive, Roberta Bonello Felice, said she would be happy to endorse Debono as a PN candidate and willing to present a motion to bring him back into the party.

Gozo PN MP Alex Borg, then said he believed Debono “still has much to offer” and called on the party to “unite, and maybe also forgive and empathise”. That post received more than 1,300 reactions on Facebook, with almost all of them positive.

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