A Maltese court fined the Sunday Times of Malta and its reporter for libel Sept. 17, Malta Today reported.
The newspaper’s Aug. 22, 2010 article, “Patients swindled in scam – Top MUMN official investigated” had claimed that “a nurse and a salesman swindled vulnerable patients out of hundreds of euros by offering therapy not provided by the state and leading them to believe it was free” and that the Health Ministry was investigating. The nurse was reported to have “a top post within the structures of the Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses” (MUMN).
But, the judge, Magistrate Francesco Depasquale, ruled against the newspaper and found that the article suggested “there was collusion between the journalist and the Health Minister against MUMN,” Malta Today explained. Further, as Maltese website di-ve.com reported, the judge found that the nurse in question wasn’t a “top MUMN official” and questioned the report since plans to look into the claims weren’t announced until after the newspaper’s article. Depasquale ruled that the paper and its reporter must pay €11,500 to MUMN’s president, vice president, secretary general and treasurer, who argued they were the “only top MUMN officials,” di-ve.com explained.
We wrote to the Times of Malta seeking more information on the case. The newspaper’s “secretary to the editor,” Joanne Cocks, sent us the newspaper’s “official reply.” It reads:
“The Sunday Times of Malta will vigorously appeal against this decision. Though it has much to say about this case, it would prefer at this stage, until the appeal is heard, not to make further comment.”
We’ve written previously about libel lawsuits in Malta this summer. In July, Malta Today was fined for libel over three six-year-old articles, but said it planned to appeal. Also in July, Malta’s Olympic Committee chairman Justice Lino Farrugia Sacco sued the Times of Malta for reporting on the News Corp.-owned Sunday Times‘ article.
See all our stories on Malta.