Updated 11.30am with Caruana Galizia's reply

Blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia has been slapped with 19 libel cases from the db Group, claiming that for weeks on end she has attacked, slandered and lied about the group. 

"We did not take the decision lightly or rashly, and it remains one which we, as a commercial entity, would have preferred not to take. But Daphne Caruana Galizia left us no course to take but this one," a statement sent to the media by group CEO Arthur Gauci this morning said. 

He stressed that Ms Caruana Galizia had attacked, slandered and lied about the group and the people associated with it without a shred of decency.

"She writes as if the laws which exist in any European democracy to protect citizens from such abominations do not apply to her. Clearly, she thinks that we should not enjoy the benefit of these laws which protect us and our rights."

Mr Gauci said damages the group might be awarded by the courts will go to charity.

'We are living in a culture of fear' - Caruana Galizia

In a scathing reply this morning, Ms Caruana Galizia said "Silvio Debono and his outfit" filed 19 libel suits by taking advantage of the fact the law allows them to sue for each comment, article or blog post even if the subject matter and the author are the same.

"As we have seen from his involvement with both political parties and several politicians who he pays for services rendered, Debono has a lot of money to throw at his objective of silencing criticism of his choices, behaviour and the exceptional treatment he has got from this government, which has given him - and for a risible sum - a large piece of public land in a prime area, which he will now use for speculation on blocks of flats."

In any other European democracy it would not have been possible for Silvio Debono to do what he has done over several years

She said the cases will drag through the courts and would cost her around €8,000 euros merely to file responses.

"The law does not protect journalists in this situation because you do not need grounds to sue. You only need grounds to win."

She accused the group of trying to silence criticism through fear and intimidation in line with the fact that we are now living in a "culture of fear".

Ms Caruana Galizia said that in any other European democracy it would not have been possible for Silvio Debono to do what he has done over several years.

The db Group has been at the centre of controversy after it claimed it paid the salaries for the Nationalist Party's general secretary and corporate strategy head, a claim the PN denies. 

This came after the group reached a highly-controversial deal with the government regarding the development of the ITS site in Paceville.

The db San Gorg Property Limited, which manages the Seabank Hotel, will be investing €300 million in the building of a Hard Rock hotel, a residential complex and commercial centre on the former ITS site in St George's Bay.

Last month, Ms Caruana Galizia was served with a garnishee order for €46,000 by Economy Minister Chris Cardona who sued for libel over articles which alleged that he had been spotted in a German brothel. A subsequent campaign for public donations to her libel fund collected well in excess of this amount.

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