The Office of the Prime Minister would not give details of the engagement contract given to John Portelli, the Prime Minister’s head of security, citing the secret services law.

A request under the Freedom of Information Act to provide details of the financial package and perks given to Mr Portelli by direct order was turned down because, according to the Office of the Prime Minister, the information “refers to documentation held by the security services”.

The Prime Minister’s office also refused to provide information on how many police officers formed part of the Prime Minister’s personal security detail and whether they are answerable to Mr Portelli or to the Police Commissioner.

The Times of Malta was not after names but the number of officers and their ranks. Still, the Office of the Prime Minister would not give any information.

A complaint has been now filed on the basis that the information requested is in the public interest because the officers in question are paid through taxpayers’ money.

Government sources said Mr Portelli, 63, known as Iż-Żubina, was reinstated in the police force through a ministerial order on the first day Labour was returned to power in March 2013.

“Mr Portelli had retired from the police force about 10 years earlier in the rank of sergeant.

“Somehow, without any call and on the direct orders of then police minister Manuel Mallia, Mr Portelli was reinstated on a higher rank and was made a sergeant major,” the sources said.

They pointed out that Mr Portelli was given a contract through the Security Service, thus entitling him to a higher salary and perks which do not usually apply to normal police officers.

As head of security, Mr Portelli accompanies the Prime Minister also on overseas trips as his personal bodyguard.

It could not be confirmed whether Mr Portelli is still a member of the police force or whether he has resigned and is receiving a police pension.

Research conducted by the Times of Malta shows Mr Portelli is a shareholder in D-vine Company Ltd, which owns a number of retail shops.

In the past, Mr Portelli was also involved in a company together with Frankie Grima, who has entertainment clubs in Paceville. The company was struck off a few years ago.

 

ivan.camilleri@timesofmalta.com