PN blames Muscat again in Mistra row
Borg Olivier refuses to say whether Sant was right
Nationalist Party general secretary Paul Borg Olivier yesterday revived the 2008 Mistra spectre but refused to say whether former Labour leader Alfred Sant’s pre-election “attacks” on Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando were justified.
“I will not get into that,” he told journalists at a press conference where he was also asked whether the PN owed Dr Sant an apology for painting him as a liar.
Instead, Dr Borg Olivier focused on Labour leader Joseph Muscat and reiterated the claim that the then-Labour MEP had informed the PN of Dr Sant’s plans to attack Dr Pullicino Orlando.
The “attacks” were about Dr Pullicino Orlando’s plans to sell land he owned in Mistra for a nightclub to be built, plans that were confirmed at the last minute by a contract published by Dr Sant.
The saga caused big embarrassment to the PN, especially after the election as it vehemently defended Dr Pullicino Orlando, who downplayed the claims by saying the planning authority application was filed by third parties.
Only recently, the Prime Minister’s spokesman, Gordon Pisani, revealed a private conversation he had on the last day of the campaign in which Dr Pullicino Orlando said he felt “ill” when asked to go to the party headquarters after the contract was published.
But Dr Borg Olivier refused to pass judgement on Dr Pullicino Orlando, who recently resigned from the party to become an independent MP.
Instead, he produced two clips as evidence that Dr Muscat helped prepare the PN for the attacks.
The clips were taken from a Broadcasting Authority debate on February 25, 2008, when Dr Muscat said voters would soon be given a chance to see how Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi would deal with facts about corruption.
He does not mention any MP. Nor does he give any details of the Mistra project.
However, Dr Borg Olivier said these “hints” by Dr Muscat gave away Dr Sant’s strategy, enabling the PN to mount a strong defence.
Dr Borg Olivier argued that Dr Muscat had now denied leaking the information to the PN, claiming, as a rebuttal, that the Mistra story, including key documents, were leaked to Labour from within the PN.
Dr Borg Olivier pointed out that Dr Sant proved Dr Muscat wrong on Sunday when he stressed in the Labour media that the Mistra story was leaked by a “whistleblower”.
Dr Borg Olivier said Dr Muscat also had subsequent confidential conversations with PN officials that gave away more clues about the strategy. He failed to substantiate his claims, even when asked several times whether he had any evidence.
However, when contacted later by The Times, Nationalist MEP Simon Busuttil said it was he who had received the information from Dr Muscat.
Dr Borg Olivier also failed to say that PN officials had, before the election, claimed the Mistra story was leaked to them by “disgusted” Labourites who were close to Dr Sant but angry by his “stream of fabrications” and “flinging of mud”.
However, he did point out that former general secretary Joe Saliba had, in 2008, made the same allegation the PN was making now in an interview with The Sunday Times and Dr Muscat had never issued a denial.
Labour recently dismissed the claims as a “conspiracy theory”, pointing out that the PN went from saying hints were given out inadvertently to making it seem like there was some form of leak.
The Labour party yesterday labelled the press conference “ridiculous”, saying only someone like Dr Borg Olivier would think that Dr Muscat could “leak” something on the national broadcaster with the entire country watching.