Saviour Balzan sues Ivan Camilleri for libel following online accusations

MediaToday director Saviour Balzan says he has filed a libel suit against The Times journalist Ivan Camilleri for comments the latter posted online yesterday in reaction to a story claiming Camilleri had been caught stealing 'high-value items' from a Naxxar supermarket

Saviour Balzan is suing Ivan Camilleri
Saviour Balzan is suing Ivan Camilleri

MediaToday Managing Editor Saviour Balzan has announced he has filed a libel case against The Times journalist Ivan Camilleri, for comments the latter posted online yesterday in reaction to a story published by MaltaToday.

In a story yesterday, Balzan reported that Camilleri had been confronted by the owner of a supermarket in Naxxar, after employees supervising CCTV cameras informed management they had noted Camilleri stealing a ‘high-value item’.

The article said the incident was only revealed to management after the shoplifting took place, leading a company official to personally contact Camilleri. Camilleri was then confronted over the incident – and the journalist was said to have immediately admitted to the crime.

Witnesses said Camilleri admitted that “he should have known better considering that he was constantly reminding others of what was wrong and what is right.” Additionally, Camilleri agreed to compensate the supermarket, an amount which could not be confirmed.

In a lengthy reply on Facebook yesterday, Camilleri denied shoplifting and claimed he “mistakenly placed some small items in the shopping cart which I forgot to pass through the counter for payment together with all my family’s shopping. The items were not hidden in any way.”

But Valyou Supermarket director Ray Mintoff admitted with MaltaToday that he confronted Camilleri over an alleged incident of shoplifting despite the journalist issuing a denial.

It was Mintoff who told MaltaToday that he brought the matter to the attention of Camilleri and got him to admit and pay for the items that were pilfered.

Mintoff had told MaltaToday that he was paid in full for the goods that went unaccounted for. He was at first unwilling to discuss the matter when the name of the journalist was broached.

In a statement today, Balzan said he had filed the libel suit against Camilleri to ensure that the truth be known and to prove that in every article he wrote as a journalist, he had been guided by the truth and not any intention to tarnish anyone’s reputation.

Balzan said that in the 33 years he has been in the media business, this was only the second libel he had ever filed against anyone.

“I never felt the need to file for libel when I was ridiculed or accused of political bias under different administrations, or when my family was attacked simply for being my family,” he said.

“I want to prove that I wrote about anyone, irrespective of political persuasion, and that I revealed obscene cases of corruption under six different prime ministers.”

Balzan insisted journalists were not gods and should not expect to be allowed to write about anyone without accepting the same could happen to them.