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Muscat admits Safi drug case mistake

Labour leader Joseph Muscat has admitted making a “mistake” when he failed to report a case of drugs at the party’s Safi club in 2009, but he insists he never lied to reporters.

Tonio Fenech should withdraw his candidature

Dr Muscat spoke to The Sunday Times about the controversy which began when tapes emerged of deputy leader Toni Abela speaking about the case with Attard committee members.

Although he defended Dr Abela’s actions as “genuine” and praised him for standing up for Labour diehard Lorry Sant in the past, Dr Muscat said: “If he was a general election candidate he would have had to withdraw his candidature.”

Asked if he would have accepted Dr Abela’s resignation as deputy leader if it were to be submitted, Dr Muscat pointed out that while this had not happened, he would have accepted.

“When someone submits their resignation it is obvious they would have thought about it. So if a resignation is submitted, it should be accepted.”

The Labour leader said he learned about the case from letters written by the barman who Dr Abela sacked after he was told about the incident.

“The incident had already happened. When I delegate a task, I leave things in the hands of the person responsible. This is how I work. My job is not to overturn their decisions,” he says, stressing that Dr Abela took the decisions in this case.

However, Dr Muscat acknowledges that he should have reported the case once it was brought to his attention a month after the incident happened.

“I think we all made a mistake,” he said, adding that he learnt from this incident and intended to reform political clubs and turn them into family centres, rather than bars.

During the same interview, Dr Muscat called for the resignation of Finance Minister Tonio Fenech for “breaching” the ministerial Code of Ethics by accepting a gift from the sister-in-law of rogue oil trader George Farrugia.

Mr Fenech had denied meeting Mr Farrugia but on Friday admitted meeting him on at least two occasions, once in his own home and once in his capacity as minister regarding a tender, said Dr Muscat.

“Resigning with only 14 days to the election is not shouldering responsibility. He should withdraw his candidature,” said Dr Muscat.

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