Updated | GWU suspends chief editor Victor Vella

The GWU subsidiary company Union Print has suspended the editor of l-orizzont and it-Torċa, Victor Vella, after he refused to bow to pressure not to report certain social stories • IGM condemns company's action

Victor Vella. Photo: Facebook
Victor Vella. Photo: Facebook

Updated at 5:20pm with IGM statement

The Institute of Maltese Journalists has expressed solidarity with Union Print editor Victor Vella who was suspended after he refused to give in to pressure not to report certain stories.

The IGM said it is concerned with the decision taken by Union Print to suspend Vella and condemned the "disproportionate action".

"While the General Workers’ Union, which owns Union Print, has publicly said the suspension is tied to administrative issues, from the facts known to the IĠM, it appears that the real reason is linked to editorial decisions taken by Vella and which did not go down well with the company’s management," the IGM said.

It added that while a company had the right to appoint an editor it considers best placed to advance its beliefs, "it does not appear that Vella departed from the principles that underpin the Union Print".

"The IGM expresses solidarity with Vella and condemns the disproportionate action taken against him by Union Print," the organisation said.

Sources close to the union said Vella was suspended on full pay pending disciplinary proceedings against him.

Ironically, Vella’s wrongdoing appears to be his socially-inclined editorial stance, which included giving space to stories on poverty, precarious employment, the situation of foreign workers and humane stories on migration.

Sources told MaltaToday Vella’s emphasis on these stories was frowned upon by elements in government, who put pressure on the union not to paint the administration in a bad light.

When contacted, Vella said he did not wish to comment pending the internal disciplinary proceedings against him.

Vella has worked with the GWU’s company Union Print for 27 years as a journalist, becoming editor of all its publications – the daily l-orizzont, the Sunday It-Torċa and the online portal Talk.mt – a few years ago.

'Vella was not suspended due to editorial line' - GWU spokesperson 

GWU President Victor Carachi declined to comment on the reasons underpinning Vella’s suspension but a GWU spokesperson later told MaltaToday that Vella was not suspended by the union but by Union Print which publishes the newspapers. 

The spokesperson stressed that it is not true that Vella was suspended due to an editorial line. In fact, he insisted that the GWU was defending Vella. 

'I condemn this vile and unjust act' - Andre Callus

Moviment Graffitti activist Andre Callus has given Vella his full support: "I would like to express my full solidarity with Victor, a journalist who resisted political fascism and rejected far-right tendencies in supposedly left-wing newspapers."

"For this, he often received insults and threats. As a member of the General Workers' Union GWU, I condemn this vile and unjust act by the union towards its worker," Callus said.