A high ranking MCAST official on paid special leave for the past three years is suing Malta Today for libel after being targeted by two articles based upon “totally unfounded and untruthful assertions” in her regard.
Josephine Abdilla, former head of human resources at the college, filed a defamation suit against Matthew Vella, as executive editor of Malta Today and the author of both stories published both online and in print earlier in August.
The first article, on August 8, was titled “Whistleblowers pressured to select favoured MCAST teachers”. The second, published a week later, was “Bribery allegation was ‘joke’ yet former MCAST executive may still be on payroll”.
A right of reply by Abdilla’s lawyer, Andrew Borg Cardona, was published by the media house following the publication of the first article.
The former MCAST official has now taken her grievances to court, claiming that those stories pivoted upon “totally unfounded and untruthful assertions” that were intended solely to tarnish her reputation.
The applicant’s lawyers are claiming that such “serious inaccuracies” and “malicious fabrications” amounted to “deliberate character assassination” and were requesting the court to declare both articles defamatory in Abdilla’s regard and to liquidate damages payable by the respondent.
Malta Today claimed to have relied on a report by a board of inquiry set up by the Ministry of Education, yet Abdilla “has never been given a copy” of those conclusions which appear not to have been published, her lawyers said in a public statement following upon the filing of the libel suit.
Moreover, the former HR head was still suspended on full pay, said her lawyers, further highlighting the fact that the author of the articles cited “unnamed sources”.
Given the scarce details, the applicant could not fully rebut all allegations which would, however, be tackled in-depth before the courts.
Lawyers Andrew Borg Cardona and Matthew Cutajar signed the application.