Edward Caruana Galizia (‘Are the police coming?’, May 1) is right.

I am a poor linguist but years ago I completed a basic course in Maltese at the University of Malta’s language school and was amazed when I passed with a mark of 56 per cent.

Two months later, my wife was taken ill abroad and it was over a year before we returned to Malta and most of my Maltese had been lost through lack of usage. However, I believe it does show that I have sympathy with the use of the Maltese language.

When my English- and Maltese-speaking neighbour replaced his concrete roof, he failed to waterproof it and my property below was flooded, causing extensive damage. I was not aware that failure to waterproof a roof is a crime in Malta but my insurers instructed me to make a complaint to the police, who duly issued a summons.

My Maltese-speaking lawyer failed to appear and, at the insistence of the prosecuting police inspector, the magistrate agreed the hearing be in Maltese.

I stated my case in English, the defendant produced a document, there was a short discussion in Maltese and the hearing was over. I thought the case was adjourned and asked the prosecuting officer for the date. I was amazed when she told me the document had been a “certificate of water-proofing” and so he had been found “not guilty.” Later, I obtained a copy of the document and found it was dated three weeks after the event.

Prejudice against the non-Maltese speaker does not stop with the police. At a planning appeal sitting, the chairman accepted that an architect, who lectured in English at the University, would feel “more comfortable” giving his evidence in Maltese and allowed him to do so.

I won my case, but only because of the strength of my evidence.

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