Former Torca editor guilty of libel

A former newspaper editor ordered to pay €5,000 in damages to former Transport Malta CEO over use of his image back in 2012.

The former editor of It-Torca, Alex Farrugia has been found guilty of libel and was ordered to pay €5,000 in damages to former Transport Malta CEO, Stanley Portelli.

The case related to a half-page image published on 8 July 2012 in the newspaper, owned by the General Workers Union. The word ‘Investigation’ accompanied the image.

An article on the inside pages read how an investigation was launched after Transport Malta purchased 10 Hyundai i20 from a company belonging to a member of TM's Maritime Affairs Committee.

Portelli filed for libel, claiming evidence exhibited in the case confirmed that the plaintiff was never investigated. The vehicles had been purchased from Meridian Enterprises Co Ltd. One of the company’s directors, Francesca Mamo, did sit on TM's Maritime Affairs Committee, however he was not mentioned in the article.

The editor argued that Portelli’s photo was used because he was the CEO of Transport Malta. “Since the story related to TM’s internal investigation, it was opportune that his image is shown”, Farrugia said.

The court commented that while journalism should be defended and protected in any democratic society, this should not condone the abuse of public trust in the media for political discreditation of a person.

Magistrate Francesco Depasquale found Farrugia guilty of defamation and ordered him to pay Portelli €5,000.

More in Court & Police