Court rules in favour of David Casa in Marlene Mizzi expenses defamation case

In its ruling the court says David Casa's comment was criticism of a public person within the scope of the political debate over the need of transparency in the use of public funds

PN MEP David Casa (left) and former PL MEP Marlene Mizzi
PN MEP David Casa (left) and former PL MEP Marlene Mizzi

Former Labour MEP Marlene Mizzi has lost the defamation case she had filed against Nationalist Party MEP David Casa over an article published in MaltaToday in which she says he made defamatory remarks in her regard.

The article, titled ‘Casa’s former aide says EP salaries were inflated’, said that Casa had referred the fact that Mizzi was leasing her offices from her own daughter with needing to pay implying that she pocketed the EP funds allocated to her for renting an office.

Responding to questions by MaltaToday regarding his office’s expenses, Casa pointed his finger at Labour MEPs who he said were “not accounting for one cent of their EP budgets”.

Casa referred to an MEP who was leasing her properties from her daughter “payment free, necessarily implying these funds are pocketed”.

Responding to the article, Mizzi took to Twitter, calling Casa a “sleazy dishonest liar”.

When testifying in court, Mizzi had explained how she had been offered the premises, owned by her daughter, in Strait Street, Valletta, to be used as an office.

“I’m a person of integrity. No one ever pointed a finger at me,” the MEP had said.

In a judgment handed down on Wednesday, the court, presided by magistrate Rachel Montebello, observed that the fact that Mizzi used the office free of charge “could not but signify, inevitably and objectively that the applicant was being spared an expense she would have had to take out of the general expense allowance”.

The former MEP was a political figure and the comment made by Casa was a criticism of a public person within the scope of the political debate over the need of transparency in the use of public funds.

The court dismissed Mizzi’s case, stating that Casa’s comments had been “an expression of opinion on a matter of public interest” and not malicious.

Mizzi’s lawyers gave notice of appeal when the judgment was handed down.

Lawyer Jason Azzopardi assisted Casa. Lawyers Edward Gatt and Mark Vassallo assisted Mizzi.

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