Blogger Manuel Delia was Adrian Delia's ghostwriter during his campaign for the Nationalist Party leadership, the head of the PN's media, Pierre Portelli, told a court on Tuesday.
Mr Portelli was testifying in proceedings instituted by Manuel Delia against Media.Link editor Robert Cremona.
The case was instituted after Media.Link refused to publish a statement issued by Mr Delia in reply to a story it had carried.
Mr Portelli said that he had been informed of the Right of Reply sent by Manuel Delia following a Net News story in which they said that he had mistakenly reported that the PN parliamentary group voted in favour of a law allowing cannabis cultivation in Malta.
In a subsequent blog post, Delia argued that he had only reported that Adrian Delia cut short debate on the matter in the parliamentary group and failed to declare the interest of his wife’s family and a close aide of his in the sector.
Mr Portelli explained that he had instructed his staff not to publish the Right of Reply.
“I issued the instruction that this wasn’t to be published as it was a Right of Reply to a Right of Reply. I am also aware of what Manuel Delia was writing about Adrian Delia with regards to the legalisation of cannabis because of a family connection," he said.
“Besides this I’ve known Manuel Delia for a long time. We were at university together. He is a very good writer and I had invited him to write a number of articles. I had offered him a job as an editor but he wanted twice as much money as I was offering.
“In summer 2017 during the PN leadership race, Adrian Delia had thrown his hat into the ring and I was asked to help,” said Mr Portelli.
"It was agreed that Manuel Delia would be a ghost writer for Adrian Delia’s articles from August to September. In September after Adrian won, Manuel wrote to me asking for payment."
Mr Portelli said he became alarmed when Mr Delia mentioned that he had “other clients.” He had no idea or control over who these clients were, he said. This led to a potential conflict of interest which he as editor would have no idea about, he said.
“From then on, I had to take everything he wrote as having been written for a particular client,” Mr Portelli said.
“In view of his statement that he had other clients, and therefore that it could not be known whether he was writing for them, I felt it would not be right to allow him a right of reply from a right of reply,” Portelli said.
The case continues on February 20.
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