As a politician I expect to face tough questions because it’s part of the job. But I have received a series of questions from the Guardian in the UK that are clearly worded to damage me and the Government.
They illustrate just how little understanding there is about the way Daphne Caruana Galizia operated and what her agenda was.
I refuse to accept the premise that Daphne Caruana Galizia was a much-loved investigative journalist with no political agenda.
It’s a sorry state of affairs when a newspaper with such high regard falls into the trap of believing Daphne Caruana Galizia was being hounded when everyone in Malta knows it was she who did the hounding and then tried to play the victim when exasperated individuals hit back.
Here are the Guardian’s questions and my replies:
- You appear to have published hundreds of posts about Caruana Galizia in the space of a few years.
Daphne Carauna Galizia was not universally admired in Malta. Far from it. She was more of a political commentator than a journalist, with her own agenda. She freely expressed how much she despised the Labour Party and this is demonstrated by her long record of denigrating Labour politicians including their families and supporters. She used her blog on the net to target and hound individuals. She was at her absolute worse in the way she demeaned women, being highly critical of their weight, appearance and choice of clothes. Everybody in Malta deplored the terrible way she died but that doesn’t mean they condoned her callous writings.
Daphne Carauna Galizia indulged in behaviour that no self-respecting journalist in Malta would. She was facing dozens of libel writs at the time of her death.
Daphne Caruana Galizia published thousands of pieces throughout her anti-Labour career spanning more than 30 years. For the last eight years she concentrated her work online, posting thousands of pieces, many of them lies and half-truths.
One thing she didn’t post about was her own failure to pay taxes and the lack of action by the previous government to do anything about this.
- You encouraged readers of your blog to take and send in photos of Caruana Galizia while she was out in public, but going about private business such as shopping or taking a coffee.
She had encouraged her readers to take pictures of us continuously, where ever we went, even when on holiday. Not only Labour people but also their children and family members. Because of the way she hounded individuals there was an element of me giving her a taste of her own medicine when I copied her tactic by publishing photos of her going about her daily business.
- Encouraging photography of Caruana Galizia in public was designed, according to her family, to intimidate her, harass her, make her feel vulnerable outside of her home, and impede here work by making it difficult for her to meet sources.
Encouraging photography of Labour politicians anda families in public was designed to intimidate us, harass us and make us feel vulnerable outside of our homes. Any meeting with another individual was in danger of being deliberately misinterpreted. We had people not prepared to talk to politicians during social activities for fear they would be the next target of Daphne Carauna Galizia and her trolls.
- Many of your posts were published during working hours.
I work around the clock. I have no regular hours.
- Her family allege it was an abuse of your position, as a representative of the prime minister, benefiting form a taxpayer funded salary, to undertake these personal attacks against a single individual and citizen of Malta.
Allow me to use a British example to answer this. If the targets of Katie Hopkins in the UK were highly critical of her would you call these “personal attacks against a single individual”?
Furthermore, her family allege that you are part of an administration which encouraged the Labour party and its supporters, and affiliated media, and individuals working in government or on public salaries, to subject Caruana Galizia and her family to harassment in the following ways:
- An arson attack on her home, vexatious libel claims, having government contracts withdrawn from her husband’s law firm, encouraging members of the public to take photos of her, using her photograph on political campaign posters.
I have never encouraged any violent action against her nor any other citizen of Malta. On the other hand, Daphne Caruana Galizia did, for example, suggest that the Justice Minister and his partner should be hanged in a square, and that the Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister should be taken out and shot.
- Pressure was also placed at the direction of the administration on her son Andrew Caruana Galizia. He was recalled from his diplomatic post in India on short notice and without cause, and assigned new duties which did not correspond with his experience and ability, in such a way that he eventually felt obliged to leave the diplomatic service.
The Ministry for Foreign Affairs is not my remit.
- The administration of which you are part has presided over a general deterioration in press freedom, such that journalists now fear for their livelihoods and their lives.
There is no general deterioration of press freedom in Malta. We have a very lively media, with independent newspapers, radio and TV. They are often critical of government, just as what you would expect in an EU democracy.
- It has presided over a general deterioration in law and order, such that it is ultimately responsible, either directly or indirectly, for Caruana Galizia’s murder;
There is no deterioration of the rule of law in Malta.
- It is protecting whoever ordered the murder, and pressuring police not to investigate this matter.
The investigation into her killing is ongoing but three people have already been charged with murder. Police enlisted help from foreign agencies to assist in the investigation, including the FBI and Dutch forensic scientists. There is a €1m reward to whoever comes forward with information. Do you deem this as protection to whoever ordered the murder?