MediaToday editors ordered to pay court expert €2,000 in libel damages

Court finds against MediaToday editors over story that alleged court experts leaked information from the Daphne Caruana Galizia magisterial inquiry

Two editors from the MediaToday stable have been ordered to pay €1,000 each in libel damages to a court expert in the Daphne Caruana Galizia magisterial inquiry.

John Muscat filed libel proceedings against MaltaToday editor Saviour Balzan and Illum editor Albert Gauci Cunningham over two stories published in 2018.

Muscat, who was a court-appointed expert in the Caruana Galizia inquiry, felt aggrieved by the stories that alleged he had been suspected by police as having leaked information from the inquiry to the international press and his sister Caroline Muscat, editor of The Shift News.

Magistrate Rachel Montebello noted that in his testimony, Balzan admitted that the information related to the payments made to the court experts was given to him by a ministry and was wrong.

The court said that Muscat had received no remuneration for his role in the inquiry.

Balzan had testified that what he wrote was not intended to suggest that Muscat was not trusted by the police and that he had passed on information to his sister.

However, Muscat argued that by highlighting his link to his sister Caroline, who was described as a former campaign manager of the Nationalist Party, the story was clearly a reference to him.

He denied the allegation that he was in some way responsible for the leaks from the inquiry.

The magistrate found in favour of Muscat and ordered Balzan and Gauci Cunningham to pay him €1,000 each in damages.

Muscat was represented by lawyer Joseph Zammit Maempel, while lawyer Veronique Dalli appeared for the media company.