The Malta Independent 10 April 2020, Friday

Giovanna Debono awarded €5,000 in libel damages from PL portal

Friday, 21 February 2020, 19:54 Last update: about 3 months ago

Former Nationalist Minister Giovanna Debono today was awarded €5,000 in damages in a libel suit she had filed against Kurt Farrugia as former editor of the now-extinct news portal maltastar.com in 2008. 

The Labour Party English language portal had published a story titled “Bitterly bitten Nadur families fight back, claim ‘abuse of power’ by Giovanna” alleging that Debono, who served as Gozo Minister at the time, had taken advantage of a temporary stint as acting Prime Minister “to recommend the acquisition of a piece of land which makes part of a belvedere mysteriously developed in front of her driver’s house in Nadur”.

ADVERTISEMENT

When delivering judgment, magistrate Gabriella Vella observed that the title itself, alleging “abuse of power” was libellous. 

On the basis of evidence put forward, there was “little doubt that the applicant, who was Gozo Minister at the time, had proved” that the article was defamatory, that it targeted the applicant and that the contents thereof were published or shared with third parties. 

Farrugia had written the article based on information passed on to him by a couple who had been directly hit by the expropriation and who had immediately rushed to the newsroom with their allegations in respect of then Minister Debono. 

Moreover, the respondent had claimed that the minister had not availed herself of the right of reply on the Labour media, an argument thrown out by the Court as “totally unfounded”.

The court held that the article was indeed defamatory and liquidated damages to the tune of €5,000 payable by Mr Farrugia, together with costs.

  • don't miss