The PN’s head of media and Yorgen Fenech were licking their lips at the thought of MEP David Casa losing out on his seat the eve before the 2019 election, Lovin Malta can reveal.
Sources told Lovin Malta that Pierre Portelli and Fenech were in constant conversation up until the election, which took place on 25th May 2019.
Fenech had not yet been charged in connection to the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, but had already been outed as the owner of 17 Black, the Dubai-based company linked to alleged government corruption.
Sources claim that Fenech and Portelli were certain that Casa would lose out to internal rival, Frank Psaila, in a hotly-contested race. Both were allegedly certain Psaila would get elected, sending a clear message to the electorate.
Their hope, sources said, was that the result could give Delia the impetus to oust party members who were critical of his leadership.
During their exchanges, Fenech even allegedly confided in Portelli that even though he had not voted PN since 2008, backing Delia still benefitted him strategically.
Casa would go on to keep hold of his seat, which some considered to be an upset despite his power of incumbency. Casa was trailing behind Psaila in survey results through the election.
Delia, meanwhile, would face immense pressure from internal rivals to step down following a poor performance in the MEP and local council elections. He managed to survive a confidence vote in July 2019. However, Portelli was made to step aside to appease rivals.
Psaila has his own links to Fenech and the Tumas Group, which was a sponsor of Psaila’s NET TV discussion programme Iswed fuq l-Abjad. In December 2019, Paul Caruana Galizia, Daphne’s son, claimed Psaila was among a few people who received information about the impending arrest of Fenech that needed to be questioned by police.
Portelli and Delia are currently subject of a magisterial inquiry concerning claims that they accepted regular 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 Casa was not re-elected during the 2019 elections. The claim has been echoed by state witness Melvin Theuma.
“Fenech once told me how David Casa was hounding him over 17 Black. He said that he had offered money to the PN to see that he is not elected,” Theuma said in court.
Delia and Portelli have vociferously denied the claims.
Lovin Malta has previously revealed that Portelli and Fenech would communicate regularly on encrypted messaging services, colluding on leaking stories against internal party rivals.
This included stories against Chris Said, who competed against Adrian Delia for PN leadership, and Nickie Vella De Fremaux, Delia’s estranged ex-wife.
Meanwhile, this newsroom has also exposed closer links to Portelli and Fenech, with the former asking Fenech to help resolve growing salary issues within the PN in March 2019.
Portelli has refused to comment on the issue.
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