I write on behalf of Mr Joseph Schranz, in his capacity as director of Pietà Estates Limited with reference to your article on the 6 February 2019, entitled ‘Prime Minister Promised ‘Full Cooperation’ for Development at Historical Villa Frere area before election’.
On behalf of my client, I am hereby exercising the right of reply in terms of Article 15 of the Media and Defamation Act, since the said article contains several inaccuracies and is clearly intended to defame my client.
Firstly, the title of the said article contains parenthesized words to the effect that the Prime Minister promised his ‘full cooperation’ to my client, implying that the parenthesized text was being quoted from another source. As you are surely aware, this is misleading since there is no reference to any form of ‘full cooperation’ in my client’s letter of the 26 May 2017, addressed to Mr Mario Fava. The addition of the adjective “full” in the parenthesised part of the title of your article is evidently intended to mislead the reader into thinking that some form of untoward cooperation was promised to my client. This is nothing but a clear case of defamation and libel to the detriment of my client.
My client would like to clarify that the meeting with the Prime Minister occurred at a social event, held at a public venue. Furthermore, it is to be noted that my client’s letter of the 26 May 2017, clearly states that the Prime Minister referred the matter to Mr Ray Bartolo at the OPM who could not, however, provide any assistance since he was “still waiting for the outcome from the Lands Department.” This clearly shows that there was no form of untoward conduct as is being suggested in your article. The fact that, to date, nearly two years since the letter in question, my client’s request has not progressed, speaks for itself in this respect. It would have been opportune if you had also highlighted this fact in your article.
Finally, your article also alleges that “Schranz is the owner of Pieta Estates Ltd – at the time an application was pending before the Planning Authority for a 10-storey retirement home that was the subject of controversy” and that “Pieta Estates’ application for a retirement home was then withdrawn.” This is factually incorrect and is clearly intended to defame my client.
Pieta Estates Ltd did not file any development application for a retirement home in connection with the site in question, let alone for a 10-storey building. As you are surely aware, this fact could have been very easily verified since all data pertaining to planning applications is available online. In the circumstances, one cannot but think that there is a clear intention to defame my client by reference to factual untruths.
In term of Article 15(1) of the Media and Defamation Act, I am hereby formally calling upon you to publish this reply forthwith giving it the same prominence of your aforementioned article.
So much for your better guidance.
Avv. Massimo Vella
Editor’s note: There was no intention to defame. The focus of the article was the Prime Minister, who was responsible for Lands at the time.