A “surreal” meeting of the PN executive yesterday came to an abrupt end and triggered a top resignation after the spectre of assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was raised.
Pierre Portelli, who until last night was the head of the party’s media, at one point interrupted the debate to say that Caruana Galizia had sent him a message telling him she wanted to ruin Adrian Delia’s chances of becoming party leader.
Back then, Portelli was editor-in-chief of The Malta Independent, the newspaper where Caruana Galizia had a regular column.
At this point, several members of the PN executive lashed out at Portelli, slamming him for trying to use a dead woman who could not defend herself to make his arguments.
Screaming and shouting ensued, with people telling Portelli he should be ashamed of himself and eventually storming out of the meeting.
“Everyone started leaving, even [deputy leader] David Agius,” a source at the meeting told Lovin Malta. “Nobody stood up to defend Pierre and only a few people stayed behind in the room with him. We were all disgusted; he was talking about a dead woman who couldn’t defend herself.”
“I’ve never heard such screaming and shouting in this sort of meeting,” another person said. “People were fuming and it wasn’t just the usual MPs. It was ordinary members of the executive who were angriest. Suddenly people just started leaving the room. Even Delia walked out. I knew at that point Pierre Portelli would have to resign. It’s clear that they are imploding and the longer the leadership remains there, the more they will implode. They should just all resign before it turns uglier.”
Later on that night, Portelli submitted his resignation as PN media chief, citing unspecified events that occurred during the Executive Council meeting.
In his resignation letter, Portelli said his tenure as media head has been rewarding but marred with daily struggles, in which he had to “fire fight elements within the PN who insist they have a divine right to lead and control the party and its media platforms”.
In comments to the press, Portelli also accused PN MP Jason Azzopardi of shooting from the hip on social media in a manner that damages the party.
“At certain points, he was close to Adrian Delia. Go and see the cases [Delia] filed in court. He always found [Azzopardi’s] support, he was next to him outside of court, nodding his head. Then something happens, and goes off and shoots from the hip.
“I am naming him as an example of what we shouldn’t be, because this party can’t afford to lose more minds. It’s won’t be good for the PN to lose a legal mind like Jason’s but he must also help himself. He can’t just shoot from the hip whenever something happens.”
Earlier in the meeting, Delia presented the PN with a list of proposals to strengthen the party, such as reforming the statute and giving the party branches space to work.
“The proposals made sense but Delia has already had a chance to implement them,” a source said. “The issue here is that he has lost credibility.”