English PEN tells Caruana Galizia: Mischon de Reya lawyer won’t be removed

Writers’ society says Anthony Julius will not be asked to step down after ‘careful internal investigation’

Prof. Anthony Julius
Prof. Anthony Julius

 

The board of writers’ society English PEN has refused suggestions by the son of murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia that its trustee Anthony Julius, of law firm Mischon de Reya, should step down.

PEN said it had carried out “a careful internal investigation” and that it found no reason to invite Julius, deputy chairman of the Mischon de Reya firm, to stand down as a trustee.

Questions about Julius’s appointment to the board in late 2017 raised in May 2018 by the Caruana Galizia family, who alleged that Mishcon de Reya had “sought to cripple [their mother] financially with action in UK courts.”

PEN said in a statement Julius, who is also professor of law at University College London, was invited to stand for election because he had given considerable support to English PEN in recent years, having offered pro bono assistance in its work with writers and journalists at risk.

“English PEN condemns the persecution and murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia. English PEN also condemns legal actions – and the threat of legal actions – which are intended to have a crippling effect of the kind that has been reported by some media and journalists.

Since freedom implies voluntary restraint, members pledge themselves to oppose such evils of a free press as mendacious publication, deliberate falsehood and distortion of facts for political and personal ends. English PEN

“However, having been given access to Mishcon de Reya’s correspondences on the matter, which it has carefully reviewed, and having spoken and communicated with the principal individuals involved on both sides, as well as an independent human rights lawyer, the board has concluded that the material put before it does not support the claims that have been reported or made in this particular case.”

PEN said its decision was made on the basis the legal correspondence, which it said was not in breach of its founding principles, and that its trustees were appointed as individuals, not as representatives of organisations, subject to full disclosure of possible conflicts of interest.

“In the arena of conflict of interests we note that Julius was not personally involved in the correspondence with Daphne Caruana Galizia,” PEN said.

It also imparted its belief – part of its founding principles – that while PEN stands in favour of a free press, “since freedom implies voluntary restraint, members pledge themselves to oppose such evils of a free press as mendacious publication, deliberate falsehood and distortion of facts for political and personal ends.”

PEN however said that as media organisations were radically reduced staffing, and their investigations being globalised, worldwide networks of independent bloggers, freelance journalists and NGOs were left vulnerable to intimidation and worse. “We believe that English PEN is able to help confront this new set of challenges…. We are grateful to the Caruana Galizia family for bringing this troubling trend to our attention. We are also grateful to those members who reached out to the board to share their concerns.”

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