Court throws out claim by activist who said Cardona tweet affected job chances

Activist sued former Labour minister over dismissive tweet claiming it affected her employment opportunities, three years after leaving bank job

Occupy Justice activist Rachel Williams (left) and former Labour minister Chris Cardona
Occupy Justice activist Rachel Williams (left) and former Labour minister Chris Cardona

A magistrate has dismissed a libel claim brought by one-time Occupy Justice and Repubblika activist Rachel Williams against former Labour minister Chris Cardona, over a denigratory tweet Williams claimed was defamatory.

In the end, Williams failed to provide sufficient evidence to support her case that Cardona’s comment that she had been fired from her Bank of Valletta job, had affected her employment opportunities thereafter.

It turned out that she had left her job as BOV business relationship manager in December 2016, well three years and a half before Cardona’s tweet, a reaction he made to a series of Williams’s tweets against him.

Williams alleged that Cardona’s tweet - “Didn’t you get a life after being fired from BOV?” – was defamatory and intended to harm her reputation.

But as noted by Magistrate Rachel Montebello, the significant time gap made it unlikely for the tweet to have influenced Williams’ job prospects.

It turns out that after leaving BOV in 2016, Williams was later employed by the Nationalist Party in March 2017 as a sales and advertising executive; then moved on to Union Golden Pay for a year; then was made ‘vice president’ at Fimbank for five months; opened a cafeteria in 2019, and rejoined Union Golden Pay; then after the pandemic in 2020 worked part-time in a restaurant, as operations manager with Etiscura Insurance; and then with Malta Shopper from November 2021, a company owned by former Nationalist MP David Thake.

Magistrate Montebello highlighted the context in which the comment was made, saying Williams had a history of publicly criticising and insulting Cardona, challenging him to respond. With her employment history, the court found no indication that Williams’ employment history had been in any way affected by Cardona’s tweet in 2020.

The court also found that Williams, represented by lawyers Andrew Borg Cardona and Eve Borg Costanzi in the proceedings, failed to provide sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the statement had caused her “serious harm” as required at law, or even substantiate her claim that Cardona’s Twitter following had contributed to significant reputational damage.