Jason Azzopardi could still have a future with the PN, Opposition leader Bernard Grech said on Wednesday, leaving the door ajar for the firebrand former MP.  

Fielding reporters’ questions, Grech said Azzopardi is “part of the Nationalist party” and the door was open for him to play a role. 

“It could be that Jason Azzopardi tomorrow or in the coming weeks, will contribute to the Nationalist Party in some way or another,” Grech said, adding that he would not ignore what Azzopardi has to say.  

Azzopardi resigned from the PN on Monday in an acrimonious split that followed a public spat with Grech.  

Announcing his move to resign from the party, Azzopardi fired a broadside at Grech claiming he (Azzopardi) had stopped a donation to the party from someone seeking a pardon for a relative.

The Facebook post is understood to be a reference to murder suspect Yorgen Fenech, who had multiple pardon requests turned down by the government.

Fenech stands accused of complicity in journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder.

Asked about this on Wednesday, Grech said he had “never discussed a presidential pardon with anyone”. 

“My denial [of this claim] is clear and absolute,” he said. 

Grech said Azzopardi had never discussed these concerns with him before the March general election. 

“The situation is closed as far as I am concerned,” he said. 

Donations from the Fenech family

Asked whether the PN had ever received financial contributions from the broader Fenech family and its subsidiary companies, Grech said he could not exclude that this had happened in the past. 

The Fenech family, he said, is a major business operator with important commercial interests.  

“It had every right, and there is nothing wrong, with it making these kind of donations in the past,” he said.  

Grech said that as long as he had been leader of the PN, these sort of donations had not come in from the Fenech family.  

Asked about the opaque way political parties receive financing from private backers, Grech said he agreed that this lends itself to potential conflicts of interest and he wanted to see the situation reformed.  

He said he wanted to see the matter done through legislation pushed through parliament.  

Future of PN media to be decided in coming weeks and months

Turning to one of the most contentious issues of political financing - party-owned media - Grech said the future of the PN’s media arm would be decided in the coming weeks and months.  

He would not commit himself on what way forward he would take, but hinted at possible downsizing and cuts. 

Grech said he wanted to consider ways to make the PN’s party media more cost-effective and less of a financial burden.  

He said he does not want to sell party clubs, to leave the PN’s headquarters, or to close down the party media, but tough decisions lay ahead.

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