Nationalist MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando said in court today that (Xarabank presenter) Peppi Azzopardi had coached him prior to his participation as a journalist in a televised press conference given by Alfred Sant in the run-up to the 2008 general election.
Dr Pullicino Orlando was replying to questions by defence counsel Toni Abela in a libel case instituted by Richard Cachia Caruana against MediaToday managing editor Saviour Balzan.
Pullicino Orlando last week admitted in a media interview that he was coached by the PN about how to react to Sant's accusations over his plans to set up an open-air disco at Mistra Bay.
Dr Pullicino Orlando said he was not told what to say, but how to tell the truth. He had also followed the instructions given to him by (then) General Secretary Joe Saliba and Cachia Caruana to the letter, because he had the party's interest at heart.
In his evidence, Pullicino Orlando said that he spoke to Caruana Galizia and had also been approached by Vanessa MacDonld over the Mistra case. The latter told him she had been asked by MPs from both sides to attack him but she did not give any names. This was said in the presence of other persons.
Caruana Galizia had told him after the elections she had been approached by PN officials to attack him on this issue.
Pullicino Orlando said there had been a drive by some people to make it seem like he had lied to the prime minister, and to make him resign, but he had never lied, and the prime minister had confirmed this.
Caruana Galizia had supported him at first, and he had shown his appreciation. Recently she seemed to have changed her mind about him.
Pullicino Orlando said that in a private conversation, Caruana Galizia admitted to him that it was Cachia Caruana who had asked her to attack him.
He knew that Cachia Caruana and Caruana Galizia were friends, and therefore, when she had backed him initially on Mistra, he thought that Cachia Caruana was also backing him.
Today, Pullicino Orlando said, there was mutual respect between him and Cachia Caruana.
On the coaching he was given prior to the televised press conference, Dr Pullicino Orlando said he was not told what to say, but how to tell the truth. He had followed the instructions given to him by (then) General Secretary Joe Saliba and Cachia Caruana to the letter, because he had the party's interest at heart.
CARUANA GALIZIA DENIAL
Daphne Caruana Galizia in a confrontation with Pullicino Orlando, denied that Cachia Caruana or MPs had asked her to attack him.
She said she had insisted on defending Pullicino Orlando after the elections amid calls for his resignations.
Nobody told her what to write, Mrs Caruana Galizia said.
Had Cachia Caruana pressured her to attack Pullicino Orlando, she would surely not have told Pullicino Orlando about it.
Caruana Galizia said she used to believe Pullicino Orlando. But JPO had lied to her and lied to the prime minister and now she did not speak to him any more. Pullicino Orlando had created a victim scenario through MaltaToday and the Labour Party and had created problems for the PN.
Reacting, Pullicino Orlando said he never trapped the PN or anyone and he had won the election for the PN 2008. He said he stood by his comments about what Caruana Galizia told him. During a phone call Caruana Galizia told him the shocking news and told him she would deny it if he ever spoke about it.
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