Maltese government disappointed by ‘unsubstantiated information’ in UK parliament report

The government said claims that the data mining company SCL had been advising Malta’s Labour Party since before the 2013 election were a ‘serious error’

The government has made a formal representation to the chair and members of the committee
The government has made a formal representation to the chair and members of the committee

The Maltese government has expressed its disappointment with the release of the UK House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee interim report into fake news which it said contained unsubstantiated claims about Malta.

It called on the DCMS committee to “rectify this serious error in the publication of its final report”, which states that the British data mining firm SCL had been advising the Labour Party since before the 2013 election.

The report was drawn up as part of an analysis into the threat posed by 'fake news' to the UK’s democracy and values. It defines fake news as being “created for profit or other gain disseminated through state-sponsored programmes, or spread through the deliberate distortion of facts, by groups with a particular agenda, including the desire to affect political elections”.

Malta is mentioned in the section of the report outlining the influence of SCL - the company founded by Alexander Nix, the CEO of Cambridge Analytica - on foreign elections.

The report notes that Henley & Partners has been Malta’s exclusive passport agent since launching the citizenship by investment programme in 2013.

“We have evidence to show that [Henley & Partners CEO Dr Chris] Kalin was meeting representatives from both political sides in Malta, with a view to mutually-beneficial arrangements. The evidence also shows that Christian Kalin asked SCL to introduce him to Joseph Muscat, the Leader of the Opposition at the time, in June 2011, and indicates that SCL had been advising Malta’s Labour Party for several years before the 2013 election,” reads the report, citing Manuel Delia’s blog as a reference.

It goes on to quote Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was killed last October, writing on her blog that the sale of citizenship had caused Malta “unquantifiable damage”.

Report on fake news ironically contains false information

In its statement, the Maltese government said it was ironic that a report into fake news contained false and unsubstantiated information, from anonymous websites, which were immediately and strongly denied by the Maltese Government”.

“The Committee links to a blog post by Manuel Delia, a Nationalist Party activist and blogger,” it said. “That blog post makes a number of false assumptions and links facts using only supposition and irresponsible guesswork to spread malicious gossip.”

The government said that not only does the blog fail to provide any evidence to back up its claims, but it also fails to recognise the public denial of the accusations.

READ MORE: Government, PN deny being approached by Cambridge Analytica

“It is unfortunate that a report by a UK House of Commons Committee in to fake news has fallen victim itself to purveyors of unsubstantiated rumours and speculation,” it added.

The government said it was categorically denied by the parties involved, that SCL and/or Cambridge Analytica “had been advising the Labour Party for several years before the 2013 elections, or that such services were provided before, during, or after those elections in Malta”.

“Upon seeing an advance copy of the report, which had been leaked in the UK media, the Government of Malta immediately made representations to the Chair and Members of the Committee pointing out aspects that are factually incorrect,” the government said.

“Additionally, the Minister of Foreign Affairs has liaised with his counterpart in the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office about this unfortunate incident where a UK House of Commons Committee was made to believe, and furthermore publish, false information regarding a fellow EU and Commonwealth member state.”

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