Daphne Caruana Galizia indulged in behaviour that no self-respecting journalist in Malta would, Labour MP Glenn Bedingfield has told a UK newspaper, six months after her assassination.
Mr Bedingfield published his replies on his blog after The Guardian sent him a series of hard-hitting questions. The UK article has not yet been published.
He said that as a politician he expected to face tough questions because that was part of the job. But the questions from The Guardian were "clearly worded to damage me and the government".
The MP, a close ally of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, said he refused to accept the premise that Ms Caruana Galizia was a much-loved investigative journalist with no political agenda.
Asked about the "hundreds of posts" he had published about Ms Caruana Galizia before her death, Mr Bedingfield replied:
"Daphne Carauna Galizia was not universally admired in Malta. Far from it. She was more of a political commentator than a journalist, with her own agenda. She freely expressed how much she despised the Labour Party and this is demonstrated by her long record of denigrating Labour politicians including their families and supporters. She used her blog on the net to target and hound individuals. She was at her absolute worse in the way she demeaned women, being highly critical of their weight, appearance and choice of clothes. Everybody in Malta deplored the terrible way she died but that doesn't mean they condoned her callous writings.
Because of the way she hounded individuals there was an element of me giving her a taste of her own medicine when I copied her tactic
On the other hand, Mr Bedingfield defended the way he published pictures of Ms Caruana Galizia going about her private life.
"Because of the way she hounded individuals there was an element of me giving her a taste of her own medicine when I copied her tactic by publishing photos of her going about her daily business."
He also claimed that many of her posts were "lies and half-truths".
It was pointed out that according to the her family, encouraging photography of Ms Caruana Galizia in public was designed to intimidate her, harass her, make her feel vulnerable outside of her home, and impede here work by making it difficult for her to meet sources.
Mr Bedingfield did not deny the claim.
In his reply, he said: “Encouraging photography of Labour politicians and families in public was designed to intimidate us, harass us and make us feel vulnerable outside of our homes. Any meeting with another individual was in danger of being deliberately misinterpreted. We had people not prepared to talk to politicians during social activities for fear they would be the next target of Daphne Caruana Galizia and her trolls.”
Asked if he was benefiting from a taxpayer-funded salary to undertake personal attacks against a single individual, Mr Bedingfield used a British example to reply. “If the targets of (controversial columnist) Katie Hopkins in the UK were highly critical of her would you call these “personal attacks against a single individual”?
He insisted that he never encouraged any violent action against Ms Caruana Galizia.
“On the other hand, Daphne Caruana Galizia did, for example, suggest that the Justice Minister and his partner should be hanged in a square, and that the Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister should be taken out and shot.”
In his replies, Mr Bedingfield also insisted that there is no deterioration of press freedom or the rule of law in Malta.
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