The Malta Independent 20 October 2018, Saturday

Police inspector wins libel damages against MaltaToday

Monday, 7 May 2018, 15:41 Last update: about 7 months ago

A police inspector today was awarded €2,000 in libel damages after a court ruled that an article published in the MaltaToday midweek paper had been based on unfounded information supplied by his former wife.

Elton Taliana had filed the libel suit five years ago following a front page article in August 2013, titled ‘Inspector in wrongful prosecution was investigated over 2007 arson.’

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The article claimed that Inspector Taliana was at the heart of “internal scrutiny by the police force” over allegations that he could possibly have contacted Daryl Luke Borg before the latter was called to testify in a police inquiry concerning his mistaken arraignment over his suspected involvement in a Birkirkara holdup.

The article had claimed that Taliana had mistakenly prosecuted Borg “together with three other police inspectors” and had further linked him with the arson attack on MaltaToday editor Saviour Balzan’s home in 2007.

In the course of the libel proceedings, legal procurator Peter Paul Zammit, who was Police Commissioner at the time of the publication of the article, had testified that two other police inspectors had been responsible for the mistaken arraignment of Borg, pointing out that the true culprit, Roderick Grech, had been arraigned by Inspector Taliana.

After Grech’s admission, Borg had been released from custody and an internal police inquiry was appointed to investigate the matter.

All the internal ‘investigations’ referred to by MaltaToday had been no more than reports filed by Inspector Taliana’s ex-wife at a time when the ‘informer’ and the applicant had been going through annulment proceedings.

The court observed that no steps were taken against Inspector Taliana. It had evidently been the same woman who had told the police that her former husband had been involved in the throwing of paint and arson attack on Balzan’s home. Balzan had been informed by the police that Inspector Taliana was in no way involved in the attacks.

In the light of all evidence, Magistrate Francesco Depasquale concluded that the article had been based on mere allegations rather than “substantially true” facts and had been intended solely to tarnish the reputation of the Inspector by attributing to him offences which, as a police officer, he was duty bound to prevent.

The court declared the article defamatory and ordered former editor Raphael Vassallo to pay €2,000 in damages.

 

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