Updated | Junior minister hits out at former Labour MP over warning to journalists

Deborah Schembri said she had been misinterpreted or had not explained herself well enough, but insisted that she could not accept the argument that a journalist should be 'castigated' for overstepping a line

Parliamentary Secretary Julia Farrugia Portelli
Parliamentary Secretary Julia Farrugia Portelli

Posted by Andre Camilleri on Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Julia Farrugia Portelli has hit out at controversial comments made by former Labour MP Deborah Schembri, who warned on television that stretching the concept of freedom of expression could lead to consequences.

Schembri was speaking on Pjazza on One TV on Tuesday evening, just 24 hours after the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia. Schembri said there was "a point we shouldn't exceed" because people could take the law into their own hands. The chilling warning created a ruckus on social media.

But in a Facebook post on her wall, Farrugia Portelli disassociated herself from the comment. Without mentioning Schembri by name, the post was clearly aimed at her comments. Having been a journalist for two decades, Farrugia Portelli said she could never accept that journalists be blackmailed.

"I also cannot accept the argument that somebody could suggest that a journalist should be castiagted if he oversteps a line," the parliamentary secretary said.

Deborah Schembri clarifies controversial remarks

In response to the push back over her comments, Schembri took to Facebook to clarify her remarks to apologise to those who felt her comments implied that “people had a right to take the law into their own hands”.

“The wrongdoing here is not of the journalist, but of the brutal person/s whose acts go against any dignity or civilization. This is where I might have been misinterpreted by some, or did not explain myself well,” wrote Schembri.

“My profound emotion comes from the fact that Daphne Caruana Galizia herself had admitted receiving threats simply because she wrote allegations about the Leader of the Opposition.

“I will not get into reports of her request to do without the protection of Police, but the fact remains that there are such criminals out there, in each and every society around the world. There are people who see no rhyme or reason, people who think they can be judge, jury and executioner. Hence, my cry for responsibility from all. Because this murder is one too many.

”I too want justice, sooner rather than later”.  

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