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 Malta Independent on Sunday - - FRONT PAGE - He­lena Grech

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.

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