The Shift News has again declined to change the content of an article as decreed by the Speaker of the House Dr Anglu Farrugia in a ruling delivered last week. This was communicated to the Speaker after he insisted today that the ruling must be followed.
The Speaker today again ordered this news portal to change the content of an article on disinformation on the 17 Black scandal as outlined by a ruling he delivered last week. The Shift refused to change the content, saying the article was based on fair comment.
In his letter, the Speaker said the ruling was not intended to restrict the liberty of the press but insisted reports of what was said in Parliament “must be correct and balanced”.
“Naturally, if you don’t want to understand this, you are also free to do that. This office does not need to spend too much time on this point because it is understood that you are well aware of this,” the Speaker said in his letter.
“In light of all this, it is expected that the ruling is followed,” the Speaker added.
In its reply, The Shift News stood by its arguments raised with the Speaker in its first response to the ruling last week, arguing it was denied a reply to a hearing. If Labour MP Glenn Bedingfield felt misrepresented in any way, he had every opportunity to avail himself of the remedies available to all citizens in the context of the media law.
In its response to the Speaker today, The Shift News referred to a previous ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in the case Demicoli vs Malta.
In 1986, Charles Demicoli had written a satirical article entitled ‘Mix-Xena tax-Xandir’ in which he described Labour MPs as “clowns”. The MPs involved – Joe Debono Grech and Freddie Bartolo – took offence, like Bedingfield, and argued breach of privilege. The then Speaker of the House, Daniel Micallef, had ruled against Demicoli.
In that case, Demicoli had at least been called to the House on the matter. In the ruling against The Shift News, there was not even a minimal effort to observe that process.
“With all due respect, we remind the Speaker of the European Court of Human Rights’ judgment in the case of Demicoli vs Malta where Parliament’s behaviour was unanimously condemned,” The Shift News said in its second reply to the Speaker today.
The European Court of Human Rights found the Demicoli ruling to be in breach of the right to a fair hearing since Parliament was deciding about itself.
“What’s done is done, and we can’t now expect a fair hearing,” The Shift News said.
The letter pointed out that the facts of the case have now been made public. Bedingfield’s arguments made in the House have been published in their entirety, by this news portal, even to its own detriment.
The Shift News’ response to the Speaker can be read here.
The Speaker’s correspondence with The Shift News can be read here.