Update 5.15pm - PL reaction

Keith Schembri, the prime minister’s chief of staff, has won a libel case against In-Nazzjon after the Nationalist newspaper had linked him to a man who fled Malta under a burden of debt.

Keith SchembriKeith Schembri

The article focused on Ryan Schembri, Keith Schembri's cousin.

The newspaper had claimed that while abroad, Ryan Schembri had made contact with several people in Malta and Keith Schembri was aware what was going on since the two trusted each other and worked together.

Keith Schembri denied the report and denied having business links with his cousin.

The newspaper was ordered to pay Mr Schembri €5,000.

In delivering judgment, Magistrate Francesco Depasquale ruled that journalist Joe Mikallef chose to draw various assumptions and make insinuations which were aimed at casting a shadow on Mr Schembri.

"This type of journalism causes much more harm than good to journalism and to the respect which the media deserve, since the article is not based on truth and on facts but on the author's intention to harm Keith Schembri, who is deemed to be the political adversary of the Nationalist Party and to harm the government of the day," the magistrate concluded.

'Only in Malta' - PN

In a reaction, the Nationalist Party said that in no other country would a Prime Ministerial chief of staff have kept his job after being caught with secret offshore companies. It was similarly unthinkable for a chief of staff to issue a statement insulting the Opposition, it said.

"If Keith Schembri had any decency, he would resign," the PN statement ended. 

'Elitist PN' - PL

The Labour Party accused Opposition Leader Simon Busuttil of being "part of a discarded establishment" and derided him for his defence of PN MPs Toni Bezzina and Chris Said. 

Mr Bezzina lost a libel case after newspapers reported that he had used government workers to carry out repair works at a PN band club he was the president of.

Dr Said was censored by the Attorney General, who reported "unwarranted" intervention in local council funding schemes when Dr Said was in charge. 

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