Pisani in 'minister' dig at JPO - MP says he was being set up as a scapegoat
Updated with Gordon Pisani's statement
Gordon Pisani, the Prime Minister's spokesman, said this afternoon, it was Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando who decided to call him as witness and he (JPO) had no right to now say that he should not have said certain things he (Pisani) knew about.
Mr Pisani was replying to a statement by Dr Pullicino Orlando earlier today that he had purposely delayed going to PN headquarters two days before the 2008 elections, when summoned by Mr Pisani, because he realised that he was being set up to be used as a scapegoat in the eventuality of an election defeat.
Mr Pisani, yesterday gave details at the PN Executive meeting of two conversations he held with Dr Pullicino Orlando immediately after then Labour leader Alfred Sant had revealed the existence of a contract which confirmed Dr Pullicino Orlando's plans to turn his field in Mistra into a discotheque.
Mr Pisani had phoned Dr Pullicino Orlando, summoned him to PN headquarters, and asked him whether he had a lease contract for his land at Mistra. He responded by asking: "Why?", according to Mr Pisani's notes.
When Mr Pisani explained that Dr Sant had published the contract, Dr Pullicino Orlando said: "I'm feeling ill", repeating that line several times and saying he could not go to PN headquarters.
"Is your contract worth hundreds, thousands?" asked Mr Pisani.
"Isn't it better if you didn't know?" replied Dr Pullicino Orlando.
"Tens of thousands?"
"Big amounts," was the MP's reply.
When he eventually went to PN headquarters Dr Pullicino Orlando was accompanied by his lawyer Alex Perici Calascione. He insisted he had the right to make a contract and this did not amount to corruption. He said he entered into the contract to have a good income.
He was told to release a statement and go straight to the police commissioner.
In his statement this afternoon, Dr Pullicino Olando said:
"In what was obviously a stage-managed affair Mr Gordon Pisani, after being instigated to do so by Dr Austin Gatt, (yesterday) also chose to speak about a private conversation we had a couple of days before the 2008 elections. This was obviously unrelated to the affair at hand, which was the motion asking for Mr Cachia Caruana's resignation. The details of this conversation, which I did not deny, reveal nothing new. I would just like to clarify one point, as I did during yesterday's Executive Committee meeting.
"I purposely delayed going to the PN Headquarters two days before the elections when summoned by Mr Gordon Pisani, acting under the directions of Mr Cachia Caruana. I realised that, after having used me to gain points by portraying Dr Alfred Sant as a bully as part of the 'Mistra campaign', they were now in the process of setting me up as a scapegoat in the eventuality of an electoral defeat.
"I therefore procrastinated, in order to gain enough time to consult my lawyer Dr. Alex Perici Calascione who accompanied me to the PN Headquarters to explain that there was absolutely nothing to worry about with regards to the contract related to the Mistra project. I had, indirectly, made a reference to this contract a week earlier in an article published under my name in The Times and had never been asked for it before the telephone conversation I had with Mr. Gordon Pisani, the contents of which he has now chosen to divulge," he said.
The Nationalist MP added that what happened yestersay meant that "anyone dealing with certain high-ranking officials of the PN and the Office of the Prime Minister should, from now onwards, appreciate that what they say may be divulged publicly and possibly twisted."
"It is also obvious that the 'leak' of selected parts of what should have been an internal meeting of the Executive Committee was very well organised. It is no wonder that many MPs are choosing not to attend for our Parliamentary Group and Executive Committee meetings. This is indeed a shameful state of affairs," he said.
In his statement, Dr Pullicino Orlando said he had called Gordon Pisani as a witness during yesterday's PN Executive Committee meeting to confirm that, prior to the 2008 elections, Mr Cachia Caruana had sent us both to the house of Mrs. Daphne Caruana Galizia in Bidnija as she was engaged in helping us with the 'Mistra campaign'. Mr Pisani confirmed this, he said, proving the direct link between Mr Cachia Caruana and Mrs Caruana Galizia who, he claimed, was also used to target those of who refuseed to bow their heads to the whims of the clique that Mr Cachia Caruana formed part of.
Mr Pisani said in his statement that the conversations he gave evidence about were relevant because they showed that the PN did not know the whole truth about the Mistra land.
The PN did not know that Dr Pullicino Orlando had a contract signed in front of a notary covering development at Mistra and rental amounts. Whenever he was asked questions, Dr Pullicino Orlando never said he had this contract, which the PN only got to know about on March 6, the last day of the elctoral campaign.
Mr Pisani said that in his evidence he explained that had the PN known the whole truth, it would have acted differently.
He insisted that Dr Pullicino Orlando was not being truthful when he said that he (Pisani) called him at the PN headquarters on Mr Cachia Caruana's instructions.
"Mr Cachia Caruana was not next to me, he did not ask me to send for him and he did not even know I would be making that call. So the link Dr Pullicino Orlando is trying to make is wrong."
It was also not true that he had confirmed that Daphne Caruana Galizia had been asked to help in what Dr Pullicino Orlando was calling the Mistra campaign, Mr Pisani said.
He said he explained that Dr Pullicino Orlando was satisfied that Mrs Caruana Galizia wrote an article to be published in his name, according to information he had on February 29, 2008.
He said he explained that Dr Pullicino Orlando was comfortable meeting Mrs Caruana Galizia, so much so that he gave her a business card as head of the Council of Europe delegation and told her that he was using up the cards he had left because he would soon have new ones as minister.