Yorgen Fenech sues over unpublished right of reply in Manuel Delia blog

Libel case over unpublished right of reply to Delia blog post associating TUM Invest with Yorgen Fenech

Yorgen Fenech (left) and Manuel Delia (right)
Yorgen Fenech (left) and Manuel Delia (right)

Yorgen Fenech has filed a libel case against blogger Manuel Delia over an unpublished right of reply on an article published in October, concerning the fleet of electric buses allegedly procured by government from one of Fenech’s companies.

Delia’s post “Nobody Move” cited a Times report on a €1.7 million fleet of electric buses delivered by a company owned by Fenech, the alleged mastermind in the Caruana Galizia assassination, and his family, and another €200,000 government spend from the same supplier to install charging stations.

One of Fenech’s lawyers, Charles Mercieca, had written to Delia the next day in an unsuccessful attempt at publishing a right of reply, denying the claim as a “false and a complete lie” and denouncing it as “another instalment of an unprecedented campaign of fake news and intentionally misconstrued facts designed to prejudice and mislead readers into perceiving Yorgen Fenech in a negative light.”

Delia refused to publish the reply, corresponding with the lawyers that his blog post simply commented on a report published on the Times, which stated that the buses had been imported by Commercial Vehicles Imports Limited, which was “a company owned by TUM Invest, an offshoot company of the Tumas Group owned by the Fenech family.”

“If it isn’t, can you kindly clarify whether your email to me is suggesting that ‘the Fenech family’ is no longer an appropriate description of ‘Yorgen Fenech and his family’ or how my choice of words can be described as ‘false and a complete lie’.”

Tum Invest is owned by Anthony Fenech, an uncle of Yorgen Fenech, in what was a separation of group assets from the original Tumas Group back in 2015.

On his part, Mercieca insisted that Fenech was not the owner of the company, accusing Delia of embarking “on a frightening criticism of everyone and anything who/which have the sad fortune of having existed during the time you decided to take on a writing career.”

The lawyer added: “Mr. Fenech is not suggesting that ‘the Fenech Family’ is no longer an appropriate description of ‘Yorgen Fenech and his family’” and that the Times were not guilty of incorrect reporting.

Delia ultimately refused to publish Fenech's right of reply, describing the request as “baseless”.

On 28 October, Fenech’s lawyers filed a libel case arguing that Commercial Vehicles Imports Ltd did not belong to Yorgen Fenech, but to his uncle Anthony Fenech, and cousins Matthew Fenech and Silvan Fenech, all residing at different Portomaso addresses.

Delia’s lawyers – Andrew Borg Cardona, Matthew Cutajar and Eve Borg Costanzi – argued that the Media and Defamation Act stipulates that no person could be asked to publish a declaration by way of reply that was itself defamatory, referring to the allegation that Delia was a participant in an “unprecedented campaign of fake news… designed to prejudice and mislead readers.”

The statement went beyond a rebuttal or explanation and entered the realm of argument, also making potentially defamatory allegations, Delia’s lawyers said.

Lawyers Gianluca Caruana Curran, Marion Camilleri and Charles Mercieca are representing Yorgen Fenech. Lawyer Andrew Borg Cardona, Matthew Cutajar and Eve Borg Costanzi are assisting Manuel Delia.