There are two effective ways of shutting up an investigative journalist in search of the truth: buy him or kill him.

Three years ago, Daphne Caruana Galizia was brutally murdered because she was exposing the crooks who, literally, are everywhere.

Now, a lawyer who forms part of the defence team of the man alleged to have financed that assassination, offers a Times of Malta journalist “remuneration for his services”.

The story uploaded on our website on Tuesday sparked a storm, raising suspicions and claims that money is being used as a vehicle to influence the judicial process.

Lawyer Gianluca Caruana Curran did not deny offering money to the journalist. He said:  “It was only after he (the journalist) was offered remuneration for his services, that he mentioned that he was full time with the Times of Malta.”

The journalist in question has long been actively reporting on the murder case and many other topics, therefore, it beggars belief that a lawyer working on this high-profile criminal case says he was unaware he formed part of the permanent team at Times of Malta.

We could not sit back and pretend this incident did not happen.

This is nothing less than a despicable attempt to compromise an independent journalist leaving no stone unturned to seek information without fear or favour.

Perhaps the lawyer in question is too young to fully realise what Times of Malta stands for: quality journalism, which does not succumb to offers of money.

In the face of a culture which saw so many power-wielding persons – and, perhaps, so many others who have yet to emerge – accept lavish gifts, we have to continue to retain the high moral ground that is required to stand up to the wide web of corruption, which led to a journalist being murdered and the genuine ones who are still risking so much.

While those elected to government and those appointed to high offices by such corrupt elements preferred luxury gifts and friendships, tarnishing Malta’s reputation, we will continue in our determination to retain our important role as the fourth pillar of democracy.

This is a warning to all those who may have already succumbed or who may be tempted into choosing corrupt money over their own reputation and the common good. They can run, for some time, but they cannot hide forever.

The culture of impunity, of turning a blind eye to the many wrongs around us, has to stop

The attempts at silencing or even merely interfering in the world of the independent media, will only serve to give another boost to journalists and civil society to ensure the whole truth is unearthed.

Instead of feeding the network of corruption and criminality that has now become a clear and present danger, Times of Malta will continue doing its utmost to starve it out.

The culture of impunity, of turning a blind eye to the many wrongs around us, has to stop.

As a society, we need to call out what is blatantly wrong, even if it comes with its fair share of risks.

Of course, we will continue being criticised by some, conspiracy theories and false accusations of secret agendas will abound and, ultimately, some high-profile lawyers will do all that is possible to tarnish our reputation. Others did the same before them and it will keep happening.

We know other journalists in other organisations share the same mission and this is why we believe the independent media continues to serve a crucial role, despite being starved of resources.

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