Updated Monday 10.20am

The Nationalist Party appeared split on Saturday after allegations of domestic abuse about leader Adrian Delia were broken by other sections of the media, with some insiders dismissing the claims and others insisting he should step aside to protect the party, his family and himself.

Members of the PN who are close to Dr Delia say the matter is a personal one and he should be allowed to deal with it serenely. Others called on him to step down.

The PN leader has not yet publicly denied the allegations. But in a statement he said he would resist “malicious attempts” to turn a private matter into a political one. 

In separation proceedings, his wife Nicola Vella de Fremaux has accused her husband of being violent towards her and her children.  The story was broken by Lovin Malta on Friday morning.

Some of the PN figures contacted by The Sunday Times of Malta, including MPs and members of the party structures, said they were not aware of the full picture. “Whatever the case, this is a personal matter that he needs to deal with and be given the space he needs to deal with it,” one party member said on condition of anonymity.

Read: Court grants Delia limited access to his children

Others, however, insisted Dr Delia should not allow the party to be dragged into his matrimonial troubles and that he should step aside to fully concentrate on defending himself and his family.

“He cannot be leading a party while defending his name from the very serious allegations that have been made against him, whether they are true or not. Dr Delia needs to take a step back to be able to dedicate all his time and energy to the matter,” the member said.

Sense of hopelessness

Also speaking on condition of anonymity, a Nationalist MP had a different opinion: “These accusations are putting a huge burden on all of us. A man accused of domestic violence cannot lead a party or the Opposition. The court documents and the sound bites circulating should be more than enough for [Dr] Delia to step down on his own and let all of us clean this mess. We feel sorry and responsible for those children. Nicola Vella De Fremaux should never have been dragged into the political arena.”

“There is a sense of hopelessness, including among those who have supported Dr Delia from day one,” the MP continued.

Another MP said it was still a one-sided story and that MPs and party members should not jump to conclusions. The PN should not take any hasty decisions, the MP added. He also said that the leak was not fair on Dr Delia’s children.

Meanwhile, Democratic Party MP Marlene Farrugia said she was prepared to give up her seat for a new party leader if and when Dr Delia decided to step down and if the person needed to be co-opted to Parliament. She said the country needed a trusted opposition which people could see as an alternative government.

Also in a statement, pressure group Occupy Justice called on Dr Delia to resign in view of the allegations made about him.

Dr Delia was already under some pressure following the news that he is part of a money-laundering investigation by the police involving a London-based prostitution racket. Police sources have confirmed that a financial intelligence report was handed over to them in March.

Repubblika also weighs in

Meanwhile, lobby group Repubblika added its voice to the chorus of those calling for higher standards in public life.

In a statement sent on Monday, the group said it believed that persons serving in a public roles should behave in a way that sets a positive example.
“Persons in such roles should live their lives according to highest behavioural standards. Our country deserves as much,” the group said.

The behaviour of a politician or a public serving official in their private life impacted their public role, the group said, adding that this was why their behaviour needed to be publically scrutinised.

“Repubblika believes that persons serving as public officials should take it upon themselves to ensure that when they’re involved in serious allegations concerning their behaviour, they should place society’s interest first and avoid burdening the public office they have been entrusted with,” the statement read.

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