PN’s former head of media colluded with Yorgen Fenech to leak stories to Labour Party-leaning media houses, Lovin Malta can reveal.
Fenech, who has since been charged in connection to the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, had already been outed as the owner of 17 Black, the Dubai-based company linked to major corruption allegations in Malta.
Well-informed sources have told Lovin Malta that Pierre Portelli would regularly reach out to Fenech on WhatsApp while serving as the PN’s head of Media.Link to collaborate the publication of particular material.
Sources explained that sometime in January 2019, Portelli reached out to Fenech – detailing a ‘plot’ by internal rivals to oust then-leader Adrian Delia and position Chris Said as his interim replacement.
He allegedly asked Fenech to get the material published as soon as possible, telling him to reach out to L-Orizzont, the General Workers’ Union’s newspaper. Fenech, sources said, had contacts within the media house.
Sources said that Portelli was looking to build up support for the embattled leader through an attempted coup by internal rivals.
On another occasion in January 2019, sources said that Portelli even asked Fenech to pass on a video of Delia’s estranged spouse, Nickie Vella De Fremaux, to Labour Party trolls. At the time, Delia and Vella De Fremaux were going through a messy separation.
Fenech did on occasion feed information to Portelli for publication.
Also in January 2019, Fenech allegedly asked Portelli if he could send questions to then-Lands Authority Head James Piscopo to ascertain the total remuneration of his various appointments within the government.
Times of Malta had previously reported that police are investigating a claim that Piscopo had hid around €600,000 in an offshore bank account in Jersey. This claim was reportedly peddled by the former Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri, who tried to use Fenech to get this published in the press.
Portelli refused to respond to questions sent by Lovin Malta on the issue.
“I am fine though I fail to see the relevance in your questions. I am out of politics and have no intention of returning to the fray therefore while reserving my legal rights, I will not entertain any discussion related to my time in politics,” he said.
Portelli is still an Executive Member of the PN – and the allegations expressly deal with a period while he was serving as the PN’s head of media and Delia’s right-hand-man.
Portelli has also been subject to claims that he and Delia accepted payments from Fenech, which some have suggested could have been a bribe.
Under court testimony, Keith Schembri claimed that Portelli would meet Fenech once a month to collect €20,000. Meanwhile, he also claimed that Delia took €50,000 from Fenech to ensure that PN MEP David Casa was not re-elected during the 2019 elections.
The pair have both vociferously denied the claims. An inquiry has been opened into the claims.
Meanwhile, one WhatsApp exchange between Fenech and Delia published by the Times of Malta showed the former asking the latter if he was up for an informal meal. Delia thanked him for the offer and told him that he will ask Portelli to organise it.
Court sittings have also exposed some of the links between Portelli and Fenech.
Following questioning from lawyer Jason Azzopardi, Inspector Keith Arnaud confirmed that Fenech spoke to Portelli about replicating the Electrogas project in Bangladesh in January 2019.
The PN has said that it “is closely following the developments and will take the necessary appropriate and proportionate measures as provided by its own statute and code of ethics, if and when, such measures are required”.
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