The Malta Independent 14 December 2018, Friday

OPM consultant Josef Caruana to appeal libel suit loss

Tuesday, 26 June 2018, 14:03 Last update: about 7 months ago

OPM consultant and former L-Orizzont editor Josef Caruana will appeal the three cases he lost as the former L-Orizzont editor against PN MP Simon Busuttil.

Busuttil had been awarded a total of €7,000 in damages over a number of articles and news bulletins alleging that he met with businessman Joe Gaffarena before the 2013 general election in a bid to obtain documents which would be damaging to fellow PN MP John Dalli.  The story broke on the Maltese language paper it-Torca on 2 August 2015, where it was alleged that Busuttil, before the 2013 election, had asked to meet Joe and Marco Gaffarena to be given information about the 20-year-old Daewoo scandal in order to undermine former European Commissioner John Dalli. 

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According to the article, the Gaffarenas had not brought any documentation but insisted that Busuttil must help them obtain a permit for a petrol station in Qormi if he were to be elected. A total of five libel cases relating to the allegations were filed by Busuttil against Aleander Balzan of One news and Josef Caruana of l-Orizzont.

The defendants argued the articles constituted fair comment of a political person and that the allegations were not defamatory. They also argued that they had simply reported what had already been reported by another news outlet. However the court dismissed this argument, saying that once a news item is republished, the carrier must bear responsibility for the content. Josef Caruana, on a Facebook video, said that he, and Union Print will be appealing the three cases.

Caruana said that the case confirms that Busuttil is the most inconsistent politician in Maltese history. He said that Busuttil and his friends spoke about SLAPP recently and, in their words, they are judicial procedures to keep journalists silent. “In truth, this case and the judgements given by the Magistrates court did this, in fact opening three cases against me personally, and wanted the courts to make me pay €15,000.”

“As a former editor I believe you should file a case if you feel defamed, but not two or more because it was for example, on different kind of media.” He said that such a thing would be done to take as much money as possible.

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