Updated 6pm, adds Ray Bezzina's statement

Albert Buttigieg has accused the Nationalist Party of echoing Labour tactics when faced with accusations of sleaze.

The party has given Buttigieg 24 hours to substantiate his claims that a PN official conspired with a “fat cat” to silence him.

Buttigieg, a vocal critic of rampant development, made the claims in a Times of Malta article but declined to name names when contacted.

Repyling to these demands for proof from PN secretary-general Michael Piccinino, Buttigieg accused his party of playing Labour's games. 

"May I kindly draw your attention that your press statement, ‘give us proof’, sounds similar to what the Labour Party say when accused of sleaze! In all honestly, I can NEVER reveal any names," Buttigieg said in his reply to Piccinino. 

The St Julian's mayor repeated that revealing the names of the "fat cat" and PN official would risk outing his source. 

"Rest assured that the source is a credible one.  If I have to pay a further price, let it be! It is better to die on one’s feet than to live on one’s knees", Buttigieg said. 

Buttigieg said that although "the scar of betrayal deeply hurt", he had not resigned from the party, and has no intention of doing so. 

He told the PN he is willing to keep on working for the common good of his locality, and has no issues meeting the PN secretary-general to discuss the matter further. 

Meanwhile, PN member Ray Bezzina, who was Bernard Grech's top aide, has requested the party's Ethics, Discipline and Social Media Commission to investigate the claims, saying a post on Facebook by independent candidate Arnold Cassola could be understood to refer to him.

Bezzina denied ever considering or accepting any offer or that any offer had ever been made to him.

A party spokesperson confirmed on Friday that Buttigieg had been contacted about the claims by PN secretary-general Michael Piccinino.

The spokesperson said Piccinino had given the St Julian’s mayor a day to back up his allegations.

Buttigieg, who unsuccessfully campaigned in the 9th and 10th districts, told Times of Malta he only got to know about what was said during the "fat cat" meeting after the election campaign.

He also claimed he had been side-lined by the party during the election and questioned whether the alleged request could have led to such a move.

The claims of furtive meetings and backroom dealings by PN officials mirror those made by former MP Jason Azzopardi.

Azzopardi too was given a 24-hour deadline by the party to substantiate the claims in front of the party’s ethics commission.

He instead opted to resign earlier this month, claiming on social media that party leader Bernard Grech had discussed a potential pardon with relatives of murder suspect Yorgen Fenech.

Grech strongly denies the claims.

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