The Malta Independent 20 June 2021, Sunday

Former iNews editor Aleander Balzan ordered to pay former PN President €3,000 in damages

Kevin Schembri Orland Monday, 20 June 2016, 13:01 Last update: about 5 years ago

Former iNews editor Aleander Balzan (left), who is now editor of Labpur Party's One, has been ordered to pay €3,000 in damages to former PN President Victor Scerri (right) after losing a libel case after the Court declared that a comment which appeared beneath an article was defamatory.

The title of the story in question was “Għall-bejgħ … il-'farmhouse' kontroversjali fil-Baħrija”. A comment was published beneath the online story by a person identified as “Ġino”.

The comment was published on 12 November, 2013 at around 2.30 pm.

Gino” wrote: “taf tistħi vitor xerri???? Basta joħodha kontra min jipparkja ħażin fit-tribunal u jkkwista l flus min hemm ukoll …... imisskhom tistħu tal pn bnies bħal Dan madwarkhom. Nitenna lil dr Simon Busuttil, jekk hu raġel, li jikkunanna Dan il ħmieġ ex pn activist.”

Scerri also worked as a prosecutor in the local North Tribunal.

While Mr Scerri did not file a libel case against the content of the article, he did file one against the content of that comment, as “Gino” alleged that he acquired funds by taking it against those who park badly in the Tribunal. This, aside from Scerri also being described as “filthy people like this”.

Magistrate Francesco Depasquale said that the person who wrote the comment alleged that Scerri is corrupt when it came to his work on the Tribunal.

The Court found that Gino's comment was allowed to be published. It noted that Alleander Balzan justified the same statement in court by saying that this statement regarded the environment and the fact that Scerri was a public person.

The Court disagreed and said that this statement had nothing to do with the environment but rather had to do with Scerri's professional work within the tribunal.

The Court also said that the allegation that Scerri was “filthy” is intrinsically tied with his position as an advocate. The Court said that the comment is defamatory as it attacks Scerri's personal integrity. The Court also took into consideration the rules of discussion on the iNews website, “which makes clear that personal insults should be avoided”.

The court ordered Balzan, as the editor at the time, to pay €3,000 in damages to Scerri.

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