After all the outrageous lies I feel vindicated – Nickie Vella de Fremeaux
NICKIE VELLA DE FREMEAUX speaks to Rachel Attard in an exclusive interview about the trials and tribulations of her husband’s Nationalist Party leadership campaign as well as those that may well lie in store. She explains how her family’s life has already
Nickie Vella de Fremeaux, the wife of the new Nationalist Party leader, tells The Malta Independent on Sunday in an exclusive interview in today’s issue that “after all the outrageous lies told about my husband and my family, I feel vindicated”.
Vella de Fremeaux, who, like her husband Adrian Delia is a lawyer by profes- sion, reveals how her entire family suffered because of the lies that people – from both within the party and outside it – were spreading.
However, she added, after the 16 September election result that saw her husband elected to the helm of the PN, “I feel vindicated because justice prevailed.”
Visibly happy but still trying to grasp the new reality of her and her husband’s new standing in public life, Vella de Fremeaux explains how events of the last four months have affected her family’s life. She emphasises that their children will stay away from the political scene because neither she nor her husband believe that their children should be involved in the political arena.
In the interview she also speaks why she closed her Facebook account and the relationship between Rebecca Dimech and the Delia family.
This newsroom also asked Delia’s wife how she voted in the referendum against spring hunting and on divorce. She was also asked how she plans to make ends meet now that her husband has taken leave of absence from his legal career.
Did you agree with your husband’s decision to contest the PN leadership?
After the PN’s last electoral defeat, I was so devastated. For me democracy was being eaten up, the separation of powers was gone and the party was falling apart. Confronted with this situation, I encouraged Adrian to run for the post and he did it. Truth be told, as soon as he went for it I got cold feet. I always believed that Adrian would be a good party leader but I had not suggested it to him earlier because it was not the right time for our family.
This decision has already brought with it many sacrifices. But today I am glad he took it. I firmly believe that he will be a good leader and will make the party stronger and electable.
What role will you take within the party?
If my contribution is needed, I would focus more on the things I love doing – helping vulnerable people, social cases, helping abused children and battered women, and fighting for animal rights. But I will always remain Adrian’s wife and mother of our five children.
Were you involved in his leadership campaign?
No, not at all. In fact, I kept the children and myself out of it because politics is definitely not the place for children.
In fact, during the leadership campaign your children barely featured...
It was a decision Adrian and I took. Look at other mature democracies around you. Do you see politicians parading around with their children at every turn? Also, my children are not interested in or enthused by politics. They were present at their father’s swearing in because it was an official occasion. They are our children and they are private citizens, not political tools. What I am saying now will hold for the future as well.
What did the older ones say when their father entered the political sphere?
“He ruined our life” ( she said with a smile). The oldest ones picked up the horrible political undercurrents and suffered a lot. We have always brought up our children in a positive and loving environment and they were never exposed to negativity. So they took the lies and backstabbing against their father to heart.
Did you ever think that he was going to win?
I was certain that he was going to lose in the first round of elections, and we would go back to our private life. How wrong I was! Obvi- ously, as one can imagine now that he is the Leader of the Opposition our life has changed drastically. For me it was a baptism of fire because I now look at politics in a different way. In the past, I was just an armchair critic. Now we are in the thick of it.
During the leadership contest, your husband said that the PN’s old guard, or the so-called establishment, was against him. Were there moments when you advised him to throw in the towel?
No, there were not. But I did find the spreading of false rumours and lies about my husband by Nationalists MPs horrible. At the beginning, swamped by these outrageous lies, I felt I was being judged and that feeling was horrible.
Let me just give you one small example. It was written that we have two live-in nannies. The truth is that I do not have any nan- nies – I am the cook, the carer and the person who takes care of the family’s needs. Thank God that sometimes my parents help me.
You have always been outspoken. Why did you close your Facebook page?
I did not do it because Adrian was running for the PN leadership, but because the minute his candidature was announced I started receiving offensive and cruel messages, even about my children. At that point, I decided to close my Facebook page because I was seeing it as an artificial reality.
Now that you are the wife of the Leader of the Opposition, will you reactivate it?
So far, no. At this stage, I am still trying to find my bearings in the political world because it has been quite a whirlwind. However, no one is going to stop me from voicing my opinion. Adrian and I have always said that neither of us will pretend to agree when we do not and we are not about to start now. I will not be able to be at peace with myself if I do not voice my views.
But will you show your disagreement privately or publicly?
I will not go public because it is not correct. I would first tell him why I disagree, and then if he decides otherwise I would voice my opinion in the party structures.
Your husband used to earn much more than the
€ 50,000 a year he will now be earning as Opposition Leader. How are you going to make ends meet, especially with five children attending private school?
He has a financial plan that was set up by our accountants and we will follow that. I want to make one thing clear; we do not lead an
“It was a decision that Adrian and I took. Look at other mature democracies around you. Do you see politicians parading with their children around at every turn? Also, my children are not interested in or enthused by politics. They were present at their father’s swearing in because it was an official occasion. They are our children and they are private citizens, not political tools. ”
extravagant lifestyle as some people have tried to say. We go abroad once a year, maybe twice, and my car is seven years old. So we definitely do not live beyond our means.
Most people do not know who Adrian Delia is: describe him to us...
He is a very determined man who is passionate about everything he does. He is an achiever and never gives up. When he believes in something, he gives it his all. For instance, during his campaign, he would rarely even stop to eat, and he lost 12 kilos. He might not always succeed but he always gives his one million per cent.
A few hours after your husband won the election you had your first political event where you were seated next to a number of politicians and party officials who did not want him to contest the election, let alone win it. How did you feel?
I cannot say I felt comfortable but I am not the sort to bear grudges. Admittedly, when you come face to face with people who went out of their way to harm not just your husband but also your entire family, it hurts deeply. However, for us this is a closed chapter and we are now on a fresh page. The fact that my husband won gave him credibility because the truth, and not the lies, prevailed. I feel vindicated.
Rebecca Dimech and the Delia family, can you explain?
Rebecca has been one of my clos- est and most trusted friends for the past six years. She is always there for me. Unfortunately, because of the way she dresses and looks she is constantly being judged on a sexist basis. But the truth is that she is a tremendously good, kindhearted person. Contrary to the way in which some are trying to portray her, she is a beautiful person, both inside and out. When stories about infidelity were floated in public, we laughed our heads off.
I know that in the past you were approached by the PN to contest as an MEP. Why did you refuse?
I do not feel I am a political person. Besides that, I have five young children and they are my priority. When I was told that I would see my children only on the weekend, I immediately turned down the offer. It was not an option for me.
Do you intend to stop working as a lawyer?
No, nothing is going to stop me from helping my clients. I have a career and I do not intend to stop because Adrian is now Leader of the Opposition.
Were you in favour or against divorce?
I voted against divorce because at the time I believed that if you are married in Church you should not seek a civil annulment. I was not against it in principle, but objected to the wording. With hindsight, I realise that I made a mistake.
How did you vote in the spring hunting referendum?
I voted against spring hunting. However, I am not against hunting in principle. I just believe that it should happen within set parameters. We should also protect endangered species. EU statistics, for instance, showed that the quail was on the verge of becoming extinct.
Are you in favour or against civil liberties?
Completely in favour.
What was one of the most beautiful moments you have shared with your husband?
Having our first child. Seeing him speechless for once in his life and crying with joy was indescribable. He was in dreamland, utter bliss. But trust me, by the fifth child he was talking and talking.