Porsche driver in Paqpaqli case files judicial letter against President over health and safety failures
President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca has no less than three court applications filed against her
The British Porsche 918 Spyder driver who took part in the 2015 charity event Paqpaqli Ghall-Istrina which tragically saw 23 people injured has filed a judicial letter against the organising parties, including President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca. Some of the victims of the incident, including a six-year-old girl and her mother, were grievously injured. The driver himself was also seriously injured.
Through his legal team, supercar driver Paul Bailey is holding 30 parties responsible to pay compensation in the event that he is held responsible for “the reimbursement of third parties”, such as the victims, who have suffered damages.
Bailey’s judicial letter states that the people being sued were responsible to “ensure that all necessary measures and precautions pertaining to Health and Safety had been taken in order to prevent all possible harm and injuring during the above-mentioned event, and provided for”.
The suit has been filed against the Malta Community Chest Fund (MCCF, under the Office of the President), the entire board of administrators of the MCCF, President Coleiro Preca “in her personal capacity, as well as in her capacity as President of Malta, and in her capacity as Chairperson of the MCCF”, Anthony Alfred Darmanin who traded under the name of ‘Paqpaqli Productions’, and the Organising Committee of the event.
In addition, the Commissioner of Police, the Prime Minister, the Home Affairs Minister, the Attorney General, the Department of Civil Protection, Malta International Airport and Mapfre Middlesea Insurance have also been mentioned in the judicial letter.
The land on which the event took place belongs to the airport, while Mapfre insured the event.
In the Paqpaqli Ghall-Istrina incident which took place on 4 October 2015, 23 people were injured after Paul Bailey, driving a Porsche 918, clipped the grass, lost control and careened into the shoddy plastic barriers which were not even filled with water and then into the crowd of onlookers.
A magisterial inquiry headed by Magistrate Consuelo Scerri Herrera to investigate the matter completely exonerated President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca from any responsibility due to her lack of involvement in planning and organisation. The inquiry found that Bailey – an experienced and licensed race car driver – to be primarily at fault, citing his lack of experience in professional driving, noting the use of excessive speed and a lack of handling techniques or corrective measures.
President Coleiro Preca’s role in the matter was called into question since the annual event is carried out in aid of l-Istrina, a fund-raising event which helps the Malta Community Chest Fund, a voluntary organisation. The MCCF is an initiative falling under, and managed by, the Office of the President. This was hotly contested recently as media reports published minutes from various Paqpaqli meetings showing that the President was involved.
In addition, according to the inquiry, there had been no mechanical failure following an assessment of the vehicle, while the organising committee of the event which falls under the auspices of the Office of the President was found to have borne responsibility for “secondary causes” of the incident.
The incident led to a cascade of legal proceedings by the involved parties following the magisterial inquiry. This led to criminal proceedings being instituted against the MCCF organising committee and the millionaire businessman Bailey. Such proceedings are still ongoing.
In the meantime, a judicial letter has been filed by the victims of the incident against President Coleiro Preca – in her personal capacity and as head of the MCCF, and members of the organising committee amounting to about 30 people. The organisers are being held responsible for the accident in the judicial letter, with the victims giving the involved parties 10 days to settle the liquidation of damages, failing which further legal action would be taken, without the exclusion of precautionary warrants.
Damages have so far not been quantified
A judicial protest was also subsequently filed by volunteers of the event against President Coleiro, the MCCF and Bailey, to seek damages suffered, or may suffer in the future.
In the protest, volunteers requested that all those who were involved to shoulder responsibility for the accident, pay damages to the victims while also providing compensation for the expenses the volunteers incurred in the course of their voluntary help.
Two of the victims who filed the first judicial letter also initiated fullblown legal proceedings against the President and the organisers of Paqpaqli.
Giannella de Marco and Stephen Tonna Lowell are representing Paul Bailey in the criminal case while Mario de Marco is representing him in the civil case.