Nationalist MP Chris Said has refuted claims that his motion for an independent inquiry into Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder was meant to undermine Adrian Delia’s leadership, saying its scope was to take “concrete action” on what she had penned and investigated.
The Gozitan MP, who lost narrowly to Dr Delia in last September’s leadership race, made this remark when the Times of Malta yesterday sought his reaction to the controversy fuelled by his Private Member’s motion, submitted on Tuesday.
His initiative, which took many by surprise, including Nationalist Party activists, called for the setting up of an inquiry board presided over by three retired judges. Among other things their remit would be to look into the conduct of all public figures who had been the subject of the journalist’s allegations.
Consequently, eyebrows were raised, as the list of people included in this probe would also include Dr Delia, who had been accused by Ms Caruana Galizia of laundering money through a London-based prostitution racket. Though the PN leader had filed numerous libels against her, he withdrew them after her assassination.
The controversy was further fuelled by a story published in yesterday’s edition of The Malta Independent, in which PN whip and deputy leadership contestant David Agius was quoted as saying that the contents of the motion had never been disclosed to the parliamentary group.
In a prompt reaction on his Facebook account, Dr Said said he had given notice of the motion in a parliamentary group meeting held today week for which nobody had objected. The initiative was welcomed by Dr Delia’s aide, Pierre Portelli, who had even recommended that the PN leader should be the one to second the motion, Dr Said added.
The wording was drafted over the weekend and a copy of it passed to Dr Delia and outgoing deputy leader Mario de Marco on Monday.
Whoever is stating such a thing has understood nothing of the motion
He added he took Dr de Marco’s advice and presented the motion the following day.
“The most important thing at this stage is not who and when the motion was tabled, but its content, when it will be debated, those in favour and against it, and the investigation being requested,” he said.
When contacted, Dr Said refuted claims that his intention was intended to undermine the PN leader’s authority.
“Whoever is stating such a thing has understood nothing of the motion. Its objective was one – to take concrete action on what Ms Caruana Galiza had written and investigated,” he said.
Meanwhile sources within the PN camp expressed disappointment on the remarks made by Mr Agius, saying that his comments had created further division within the party.
When confronted, the deputy leadership contestant stuck to his guns and justified his handling of the situation.
“As whip I am bound to stick to the facts on what really happened in the parliamentary group. If the contents of the motion were not approved I cannot say otherwise. The parliamentary group was only notified about it, but not its wording, which was drafted afterwards,” he said.
Mr Agius also pointed out Dr Delia did not second the motion as it had not been approved by the group.
“Dr Said on Tuesday told me he was submitting it but did not disclose its contents to me,” he added.
“If Dr Said wanted his motion to get the support of the entire parliamentary group he should have waited until a meeting so that a full discussion would have taken place.
“Since this did not happen, he presented it as a Private Member’s motion which did not require other MPs seconding it,” the PN whip said.
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