Delia stands his ground after party calls on him to reconsider leadership bid
‘The party’s establishment is working against me,’ defiant Delia says
The Nationalist Party Administrative Council last night gave the go-ahead for its leadership contest to continue but called on embattled candidate Adrian Delia to reconsider his candidature. In reaction, Delia last night refused to withdraw himself from the race and insisted that the party’s “establishment” is working against him.
The council’s decision follows a two-day inquiry by a specially-appointed ethics committee, headed by PN veteran Louis Galea, into allegations Delia has been facing over his
alleged links, through his work as a lawyer, to a London prostitution racket.
The ethics committee, referred to as the Consultative Committee on Correct and Ethical Behaviour, was set up on Monday after an urgent party administrative council meeting that discussed the Delia allegations, levelled against him primarily by journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Delia has vehemently denied those claims, as well as related accusations of money laundering, and has so far filed five libels to rebut the allegations.
In comments to the press last night in the wake of the party’s administrative council’s call for him to stand down from the race, Delia said that: “It is now clearer than ever that the PN establishment is doing its best to tarnish my reputation,” and insisted that he will not be withdrawing his candidacy.
Minutes after a report by the PN administrative committee urged him to reconsider his position, Delia said that he had already made up his mind to go ahead with his candidature, as the ethics committee had found nothing against him.
Instead, the PN’s administrative council, which he described as part of the establishment, chose to issue a statement trying to denigrate his reputation.
He said that the ethics committee could have “sanctioned me, suspended me or dismissed me”, but it did not take any such decision, because it found nothing wrong.
He urged PN councillors to go to vote on Saturday to elect him and get rid of the party establishment.
The council last night said that it had found no doubts in the candidatures of Alex Perici Calascione, Frank Portelli and Chris Said.
But as concerns Delia, the council stated that “in view of the clear and serious findings of the ethics committee, it is appropriate for Adrian Delia to reconsider his position as a candidate for this election.”
The council also said that, whatever the case, it is fully confident that the party’s councillors, who will vote on Saturday, and members, who will cast their ballots on 16 September, will vote “in the best interest of the party.”
The ethics committee found in its report: “While appreciating the limitations, including the professional secrecy Delia is bound to as a lawyer, [the committee] deems that there are other pending aspects that are not yet verified, and that Delia did not explain an account at the Barclays International Jersey Bank allegedly in his name, the scope and use of this account and the legality of the provenance of the funds.”
The ethics committee had also verified that on 1 July 2003 the British police had raided the property of Healey Properties that was sublet to third parties. Delia and Labour deputy leader and Minister Chris Cardona were directors of the company. The raid, the committee found, exposed the fact that the place was being used by third parties for prostitution, with Delia and Cardona resigning from the company in December of the same year.
The council added last night that any person running the party must be beyond any reproach or suspicion and that there could be no doubt whatsoever in the integrity of a person aspiring to lead the party, and asked Delia to reconsider his candidacy.
In comments to the press, current PN leader Simon Busuttil said that if he were in Delia’s shoes, he would step down considering the gravity of the situation