The former chairman of the National Book Council is claiming that his rights were breached when the council discriminated against him, choosing to safeguard the interests of the government against his own.

This claim formed the basis of a constitutional application filed by Mark Camilleri, a former member of the Labour Party and author of "A Rent Seeker’s Paradise", a publication unveiling alleged corruption and bad governance by the Labour government.

The book stirred up quite some controversy when it went on sale last year, first in electronic format in September and in print one month later. 

Camilleri felt aggrieved when his request to the council to have his work reviewed in a weekly spot reserved for such purpose in the national newspaper Illum, was turned down. 

Camilleri’s chairmanship was not renewed after he began to speak out, criticising the Labour government and party. 

But, like all other authors and publishers, he had a right to request a review of his publication.

However, his request was denied for political reasons, claimed Camilleri’s lawyer in an application filed before the First Hall, Civil Court in its constitutional jurisdiction. 

The National Book Council was set up as an autonomous entity, free from any external interference, for the purpose of representing the interests of authors and publishers. 

Therefore, when refusing to review Camilleri’s publication, the council went directly against its raison d’etre, serving the interests of the government rather than those of the author as it was bound to do in terms of law. 

By going against its obligations, the council was breaching Camilleri’s rights, his lawyer claimed.

Camilleri was being treated differently because of his political opinion and this amounted to discrimination and abusive behaviour, causing the applicant serious prejudice through loss of earnings and also moral damages. 

The applicant called upon the court to declare such breach in terms of the Constitution and the European Convention and to liquidate damages payable by the council and the State Advocate as respondents. 

Lawyer David Bonello signed the application. 

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