The Nationalist Party cancelled a meeting due on Thursday evening to discuss a Facebook spate between former leader Adrian Delia and fellow MP Jason Azzopardi.
The meeting was cancelled after the MPs issued a joint statement committing themselves to focus their energies on the good of the party.
The cancellation came hours after Delia had urged his supporters to stay away from party headquarters and follow proceedings quietly at home. He also said a serious, honest discussion was needed within the party.
The issue was sparked after Azzopardi won a libel case he instituted against a supporter of Delia.
In a reaction, Delia called on Azzopardi to publish messages he claimed to have linking him to murder suspect Yorgen Fenech and explain how he had access to them since he is not a member of the police force.
He also challenged Azzopardi to admit whether he had turned to "independent media" to publish deceptive stories on their front pages, and to provide proof backing claims that Delia was in Fenech’s pocket. He also challenged Azzopardi to take him to court.
But in a noticeable U-turn from their antagonism towards each other, the two MPs' joint statement said:
- The post uploaded by Jason Azzopardi was never meant to imply any reference to Delia in the context of the court sentence;
- Azzopardi and Delia recognised each other as committed MPs in the fight against corruption brought about by the Labour administration.
- In this context, Azzopardi recognised the fight being waged by Delia, at personal risk, to have the hospitals contract with Vitals annulled.
- In the same vein, Delia recognised the leading role being played by Azzopardi against corruption cases, at personal risk to himself.
- Azzopardi declared that Delia was not in any businessman's pocket and he fought against corruption without hindrance or compromise. In this context too, he had no reason to think that the party or Delia had acted or decided that David Casa should not be re-elected as an MEP and it did not result to him that hundreds of messages had been exchanged between Delia and Yorgen Fenech.
- Delia and Azzopardi declared they were fully committed, together with the PN, that they would continue to work without fear or favour to restore the rule of law in the country, good governance and justice.
- They also committed themselves to continue to focus their energies in favour of the PN and victory at the next general election.
'Hundreds of messages' claim had led to court exchanges
The claim by Jason Azzopardi that hundreds of messages had been exchanged between Delia and Yorgen Fenech had ended up in court in summer last year.
Delia had protested that Azzopardi was spreading “defamatory and false allegations” about him through text messages.
He particularly complained about a text by Azzopardi which read: “Of course it is! And you have no idea of the hundreds of other messages in the mobile of Fenech in 2019 relating to the payment to Delia of €50,000 and pledge of €100,000 more if Casa was not elected. You have NO idea what I’ve been holding up inside me since January. Know once and for all that the man is a pathological liar”.
In a counter-protest, Azzopardi said he stood by his claims, adding that nothing could detract from the fact that after it had become known that Yorgen Fenech was the owner of secret company 17 Black, Delia still had contacts with him and they had dinner together, at the same time as Nationalist MPs were hitting out at the corruption which stemmed from the secret company.
Azzopardi said Delia could not care less about bringing down the Nationalist Party when more facts became public, but he, because he loved the party, wanted the facts to be known before it was too late.
Bernard Grech welcomes joint statement
PN leader Bernard Grech in a statement welcomed the agreement and said it was another step to strength the PN and make it a real alternative for the people.
He also made comments outside party headquarters, where he said the MPs had agreed to commit themselves to fight the common issue, which was the corruption the country was suffering.