Ed­i­tor or­dered to pay Silvio Scerri €4,000

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

The courts have or­dered for­mer ed­i­tor of the Na­tion­al­ist Party news­pa­per in-Naz­zjon to pay €4,000 in dam­ages to Silvio Scerri, for­mer chief of staff to Min­is­ter Manuel Mal­lia.

The pa­per claimed that it was Mr Scerri’s po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence that led to the res­ig­na­tion of the Head of the Se­cu­rity Ser­vices and his deputy.

The case was filed against Alexan­der At­tard in Au­gust 2014 re­gard­ing a story that fea­tured in the PN news­pa­per en­ti­tled: Ar­ro­gant de­ci­sions and po­lit­i­cal in­ter­fer­ence lead to res­ig­na­tions.

In the story, it claimed that sources told in-Naz­zjon that the Deputy Head of the Se­cret Ser­vice, Mark Galea, chose to re­sign from his post due to a lack of pro­fes­sion­al­ism in the way the Se­cret Ser­vice was be­ing run. The ar­ti­cle stated the poor man­age­ment had come about be­cause of the way Mr Galea’s su­pe­rior, Michael Cas­sar, had been man­ag­ing it.

It was said that the ar­ti­cle claimed that Mr Cas­sar turned the depart­ment into a Labour Party club.

It was claimed that Mr Galea’s problems mul­ti­plied when he tried to in­form then Home Af­fairs Min­is­ter Man­wel Mal­lia of the sit­u­a­tion – when Mr Scerri, as the re­port claimed, stepped in to de­fend Mr Cas­sar.

The Naz­zjon ar­ti­cle also went on to claim that Mario Schem­bri had also ten­dered his res­ig­na­tion for the same rea­son but that this had not been ac­cepted.

Mr Galea was sub­se­quently sum­moned by both par­ties to the wit­ness stand. He tes­ti­fied that Mr Scerri had never ac­tu­ally been in­volved in the de­ci­sions that de­ter­mine the run­ning of the Se­cret Ser­vice, adding that while he has no quar­rel with Mr Cas­sar, he dis­agreed with his man­age­ment style. This let him to re­turn to the Armed Forces of Malta.

When Mr Cas­sar was ap­pointed to the role of Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice, Maj. Galea re­turned to the Se­cret Ser­vice.

The de­fence main­tained that the ar­ti­cle was “fair com­ment on facts that were sub­stan­tially true and ver­i­fi­able”, adding that Mr Scerri’s po­si­tion as a civil ser­vant meant that he is sub­ject to more scru­tiny than a pri­vate in­di­vid­ual.

Mag­is­trate Francesco Depasquale, pre­sid­ing over the case, held that no ev­i­dence had been brought to sup­port the al­le­ga­tions made in the ar­ti­cle, more so that Maj. Galea tes­ti­fied on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions that Mr Scerri never in­ter­fered with his work.

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