Blogger and activist Manuel Delia has lifted the lid on his experience ghostwriting articles for PN leader Adrian Delia during his leadership campaign, saying it “became more sickening” as time progressed.
Delia wrote in his blog that PN media chief Pierre Portelli, who he knew from university, had approached him in June 2017 to ask him to join Adrian Delia’s transition team, but he had turned his offer down because he had no intention to return to politics.
Portelli then asked Manuel Delia if he would ghost write campaign articles in The Times of Malta and The Malta Independent for Adrian Delia, free of charge due to a tight budget.
“I agreed to do so for old times’ sake,” he said. “A college mate needed a favour and in his judgement he was helping a good candidate. I trusted his judgement: Pierre Portelli’s, I mean. I had no way of assessing Adrian Delia’s though that would come with time.”
“At the time Pierre Portelli asked me to do this, my blog was brand new. Try to take off the hindsight of all that happened since then. Practically everyone had forgotten about me at the time. I had last been in public life in 2013 and was a vague memory in 2017.”
“I had been working in Africa and it was June 2017 when I started writing on my blog three or four times a week. I was no journalist. I was a software salesman who wrote some articles for fun and without payment.”
Pierre Portelli with Adrian Delia
He said the articles were entirely his own creative work, implying that there was minimal direction from Adrian Delia’s team as to what articles should appear under their candidate’s name.
“[Pierre Portelli and Adrian Delia] are incapable of writing a mid-week shopping list to save their lives and that’s not because they didn’t underline the big words when they read Enid Blyton in high school,” Manuel Delia wrote. “It’s because they are incapable of thinking. No thinking. No writing. It’s simple really.
Portelli revealed the past relationship between the two Delias in court today when testifying in a libel case Manuel Delia had instigated against the PN media. According to Portelli, Manuel Delia had started asking for payments after Adrian Delia won the leadership race.
However, Manuel Delia insisted he stopped ghost writing for Adrian Delia because the experience “grew more sickening as the campaign progressed”. During the campaign, now-assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia wrote several critical blogs against Adrian Delia, including blogs accusing of having laundered money from a Soho prostitution ring.
Manuel Delia said Caruana Galizia had known he was ghost writing Adrian Delia’s articles but never wrote about it because she understood that exposing ghostwriters defeats the entire point of ghostwriting.
Manuel Delia with Italian lawyer Antonio Di Pietro
“I expressed my disgust for Adrian Delia on my blog and in my The Sunday Times column. I told Pierre Portelli to his face that even if I would have ever considered moving back to political work, I would never consider working on Adrian Delia’s staff because I did not consider him fit for purpose,” Adrian Delia wrote. “And what I thought of Adrian Delia I wrote publicly signing my name.”
Manuel Delia said that Pierre Portelli’s move in court has ironically destroyed the narrative that his criticism of Adrian Delia was due to the new PN leader denying him political influence and power.
“Ironically the fact is exactly the opposite,” he said.
“But then there’s something more. Is it easier to believe that I quit my lucrative employment for full-time, unpaid, journalism because Adrian Delia would not pay me the bog standard 120 quid for an article once a month?”
“Is that really the Damascene experience that is supposed to have altered my life?”
“Or is it maybe the fact that around the same time Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed, the woman Adrian Delia called biċċa blogger when Pierre Portelli – not Manuel Delia – was ghost writing for him?”
“I know it’s just hard to understand any reason why anyone would leave their lucrative employment to face this. Do you think there’s any democracy in the world where journalists and civil society activists have to go through this crap? Do you think there are Labour-leaning journalists working at The Guardian getting this sort of shit from HM Opposition because they think Jeremy Corbyn is a cunt, and say so?
“Of course not.”