Book council head told to resign over online tiff with Yorgen Fenech lawyer

Book council president Mark Camilleri asked to resign by education permanent secretary Frank Fabri, over Facebook spat with Yorgen Fenech lawyer Juliette Galea  

Updated at 8:05 pm with Frank Fabri comments

The executive chairperson of the National Book Council, Mark Camilleri, has been asked to resign from his position following a Facebook post calling out one of Yorgen Fenech’s lawyers.

The incident kicked off when Juliette Galea, one of Yorgen Fenech’s lawyers, sent Camilleri a private Facebook message with a link to a Malta Independent article on a letter filed by the defence team to the Council of Europe rapporteur on rule of law, Pieter Omtzigt.

Screenshots of messages between Mark Camilleri and Juliette Galea
Screenshots of messages between Mark Camilleri and Juliette Galea
Screenshots of messages between Mark Camilleri and Juliette Galea
Screenshots of messages between Mark Camilleri and Juliette Galea
Screenshot of comments on Camilleri's post
Screenshot of comments on Camilleri's post

In the letter, the defence team had laid out their demands on why the public inquiry into the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia should be suspended, arguing it was breaching their client’s rights.

Her message was in response to a Facebook status posted by Camilleri, defending the public inquiry. “Those who are scared of public inquiries and the truth have a lot to hide,” he wrote.

But in response to her message, Camilleri told Galea to shove “the letter up her arse”. In the tiff that followed, Galea called Camilleri “stupid”, and the book council head later published the exchange on Facebook.

On the post featuring screenshots of the exchange, Galea also entered the fray once again, calling Camilleri an  “ignoramus”, saying he should be fired from his position; to which Camilleri replied: “Indeed. And I’m here to stay. Deal with and kiss my glorious brown, Marxist ass,” he replied.

Speaking to MaltaToday, Camilleri said that after the exchange he received a request for his resignation from education permanent secretary Frank Fabri. Their request for his resignation was not met by Camilleri. “I will inform publishers and authors, and they will issue their position,” he said.

Camilleri said that the secretariat has long been pushing for his resignation. “This has been coming for a long time, even during Owen Bonnici’s time as Education Minister,” Camilleri claimed.

He also said that such a decision impeded on his freedom of speech. His post has since been taken down by Facebook over alleged “harassment”, with Camilleri barred from posting.

Min jibża’ mill-inkjesti pubbliċi u mill-verita huwa biss għax ikollu ħafna x’jaħbi. Inkjests pubblika mhijiex hemm biex...

Posted by Mark Camilleri on Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Frank Fabri statement

The education permanent secretary Frank Fabri was asked to comment on his request for Camilleri’s resignation, to which he replied that language used by the book council chair was not suitable for a public official “who should be giving an example”.

Fabri had no further comments when asked whether he feels that such a decision impeded on Camilleri’s freedom of speech.