Chris Fearne’s request for protection from parliament found favour on Tuesday afternoon, with speaker Anglu Farrugia granting Fearne the House’s protection, in a ruling that was greeted with applause.

On Monday, Fearne had asked for protection from the House, warning that the people who coordinated a smear campaign against him “could go further”. Fearne asked parliament to take the necessary measures to protect him and his family.

Last week Times of Malta revealed Fearne had been targeted by a Steward-funded smear campaign which tried to plant fake corruption claims against the then-Health Minister.

Opening Tuesday’s parliamentary sitting, speaker Anglu Farrugia asked the police commissioner to ensure that Fearne is provided with the necessary protection.

He also instructed the foreign ministry to raise the matter with the US Embassy, given that Steward is a US-based company.

“There can be a case of corporate crime that needs to be given priority by US law enforcement officials,” Farrugia said.

In handing down the ruling, Farrugia said he had reviewed the House of Commons’ position on disinformation and fake news, which described disinformation attacks on MPs as an attack on parliamentary democracy.

Malta’s parliament adopts a similar view, Farrugia said in handing down the ruling.

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