The Labour Party has stopped selling a controversial biography of Dom Mintoff from its headquarters and ordered that it no longer be discussed on its media network.
Party sources told Times of Malta the Labour administration had issued informal directive for the book to be “hidden away” at the headquarters in Ħamrun.
It is understood that Labour had received a series of complaints about the book, including from members of the Mintoff family, with one relative even taking the matter to Prime Minister Robert Abela in recent days.
When Times of Malta attempted to purchase the book from Labour’s HQ, a front-of-house employee said it was no longer stocked and instead suggested purchasing it from a private bookshop.
The 640-page publication – The Tail that Wagged the Dog: The Life and Struggles of Dom Mintoff (1916–2012) – was written by Dominican priest Fr Mark Montebello and published by the Labour Party’s own publisher Sensiela Kotba Soċjalisti.
Jason Micallef, chairman of Labour’s ONE media arm, declined to comment when asked whether promotion of the biography had been disallowed in upcoming discussion programmes.
Family distances itself from book
The book lifted the lid on the late prime minister’s private family life and it does not always put the fiery leader in a good light.
Administration issues informal directive for the book to be ‘hidden away’ at Labour’s headquarters
In one section, excerpts of which were published by Times of Malta on Sunday, Mintoff is portrayed as an adulterer who abused his wife.
Mintoff’s two daughters on Tuesday distanced themselves from the recently released biography, describing the publication as “profoundly unethical and immoral”.
Anne McKenna and Yana Mintoff both dissociated themselves from the book, which they insist is “riddled with inaccuracies, factual distortions, unsubstantiated allegations, hearsay and lies about Dom Mintoff”.
“This book contains material that does not reflect the truth and encroaches on the private lives of numerous people,” the sisters said in a joint statement.
McKenna and Mintoff say that no members of the immediate family were consulted or given the opportunity to preview the publication.
The one interview with a family member conducted by Montebello many years ago was with McKenna, who terminated it abruptly due to his “unduly forceful approach”.
Further excerpts to be published Sunday
Times of Malta will publish further excerpts from the book on Sunday.
Montebello has not commented on the furore over the publication of the biography but Mark Camilleri, chairman of the National Book Council, defended the book and its “prize-winning biographer and historian” author.
Correction July 7: A previous version misstated the book's length.