Updated 11am with Facebook post by Daphne's sister - Adrian Delia has offered an apology to the family of Daphne Caruana Galizia for his outburst of anger towards her during the PN election campaign, but the apology was yesterday utterly rejected by the journalist’s sister.
“I was at fault because I let my anger carry me away and it is something I will regret all my life,” Dr Delia told The Sunday Times of Malta in reference to a campaign rally speech he gave last month in which he demeaningly described the journalist as “biċċa blogger”.
The family might not accept his apology, he acknowledged.
He was right. Asked to respond to the offer of an apology, Corinne Vella, Ms Caruana Galizia’s sister, said: “My personal message to the man who denigrated and debased Daphne in her lifetime, sued her four times over for exposing his seediness and unfitness for office, and has exploited her assassination to his own advantage, and now expects to exploit the Times’ weakness to deliver an apology to save his own skin can be delivered in two words: F**K OFF.”
It was a fired-up Dr Delia who took the stage during that rally in early September, delivering a highly emotional, rabble-rousing speech in which at one point he defended Alexander Borg Olivier, son of the late Prime Minister, against criticism from Ms Caruana Galizia over a note of solidarity Dr Borg Olivier had sent to the PN leadership candidate.
“A biċċa blogger said he is not a Nationalist. Who is a Nationalist then? You?” shouted Dr Delia.
On Friday, the PN leader referred to the “very hurtful and very painful” stories that Ms Caruana Galizia was writing about him on her blog at the time. “I am not a drug dealer, and my friends and family know it. I was never involved in prostitution, ever. I disdain the degradation of people and that’s a fundamental value for me.
“If I got angry it’s because I was angry and I’m sorry for that. I truly and sincerely regret it. I wish I could have an occasion to apologise sincerely to anyone I hurt at the time, but more so now when the whole perspective has changed.”
This did not mean, he added, that what had been said about him was true. But he wanted to say a sincere “sorry” to Malta, to the public and to the family.
I wish I could have an occasion to apologise sincerely to anyone I hurt at the time, but more so now when the whole perspective has changed
Dr Delia is reportedly facing serious dissent within the PN from a faction of MPs who believe he cannot offer credible leadership, given the accusations he had faced from Ms Caruana Galizia and because of his attacks on her at the time.
So did he not think his apology would be viewed as a cynical and desperate ploy to regain credibility and political support?
“Whatever I say or do, or don’t say or do, it will be interpreted in some way. The only thing I can do is be honest. This is a sincere sentiment. I am now a political person, so I owe honesty. Choosing to stay silent is also a sentiment. I choose to speak.”
Ms Vella yesterday said The Sunday Times of Malta would be doing a disservice to readers if it published Dr Delia’s apology. She added that he had decided that the newspaper was malleable and he was trying to turn it into a useful tool, reminding it that its commitment was to readers, not to a “manipulative politician”.
Ms Caruana Galizia’s most serious accusation against Dr Delia was that in the early 2000s he knowingly helped a client launder proceeds from Soho prostitution. On another occasion she revealed his car had once been searched for drugs, although none were found. She wrote relentlessly about his unsuitability for the position of Opposition leader.
Dr Delia has also been shown up by the slain journalist as being in deep financial trouble: he is liable in a deed of constitution of debt to the tune of €7.3 million, along with other shareholders in a development company.
His declaration of assets also shows that he owes about three-quarters of a million euro to the banks and about €86,000 in tax.
On Thursday, Dr Delia asked to speak to the editor of The Sunday Times of Malta.
Speaking at his office on Friday, he said he wanted to somehow reach out to the family and convey an apology.
Asked why he did not go straight to the family, he said if there was any way he could do so, he would. “I am trying to find the right time. I don’t want to be intrusive. And I don’t want to take political mileage.”
He said he wished they could understand that he was not somebody who hates or hangs on to anger.
Asked why he had not attended last Sunday’s protest march in Valletta demanding justice and the resignation of the Police Commissioner and Attorney General following the assassination of Ms Caruana Galizia, he said there was only one reason.
“I will not take decisions like that based on what my MPs tell me. The understanding I had was that it would have hurt the family. I wanted to be there because I don’t believe anyone deserves to die for going above the limits of the law, whose consequences should only be a judicial process.”
He also emphasised that his attacks on Ms Caruana Galizia were not an attack on freedom of speech, which was something he had reiterated throughout his leadership campaign.
Would he attend today’s protest in Sliema? On Friday, he still had not made a decision.
“With all my heart I wish to attend on Sunday. If in any way it hurts the people that matter most, the family, I will stay back. I might lose sympathy or support. It is not an easy decision. I am trying to weigh my intrinsic belief in freedom of expression against my belief in compassion. There is a right to have strong, private sentiments at this particular time.”