The Sunday Times’ editorial, dated April 4, 2021, is dedicated to the right of the public to know. This is written in connection with Magistrate Rachel Montebello’s order to the police to investigate who is responsible for leaking the contents from Yorgen Fenech’s mobile which have been rendered public in the press. A court decision ruled that no message from Yorgen Fenech’s phone was to be published. Now not only has a selection of these messages been published but also personal photos have been printed by Allied Newspapers both in The Sunday Times and The Times! According to the editorial, the public has a right to know. To know what? What facts? Snippets published out of context? Personal photos published solely to whip up more hysterical reactions from some quarter or other in the hope of strengthening an ongoing campaign to further discredit an individual who remains a suspect alleged to have possibly been one of the masterminds involved in the plot to kill Caruana Galizia but who has yet to be found guilty. And according to the editorial, all this is being done in the name of justice and the right of the public to know!
Is this truly being done because the public has a right to know? No, I rather think not. This is being done to unashamedly flaunt how powerful the media is and how strong Allied Newspapers Ltd is to lay its hands on material it should not publish but does so nevertheless cocking a snook at the Rule of Law and the Court of Justice! By publishing this material, these journalists show a complete lack of any sense of responsibility. They do not even stop to consider that they could be endangering not only court proceedings but they are also endangering every individual’s right to a fair trial. These editors/journalists are behaving like witch hunters of days gone by who would stoop to any means to achieve their end.
So where does Data Protection leave us in this particular instance? At this stage, I will not argue this point. These journalists are a privileged and protected species. The editor of the Sunday Times should be aware that Yorgen Fenech’s mobiles were confiscated by the police when he was arrested over a year ago. Therefore, the police have the onus, in this case, to find out who is involved in these leaks. Furthermore, one has to bear in mind that the Caruana Galizia family, that is Peter Caruana Galizia and his three sons, petitioned Magistrate Rachel Montebello and told her that whoever publishes material on which the court imposes a ban, more likely than not, that person or persons form part of a criminal organization. This argument found the support of the State Advocate, Philip Galea Farrugia.
About this dangerous premise, penned by none other than Jason Azzopardi, the editorial of the Sunday Times had nothing to say. Also when the Caruana Galizia family made such an argument, the newspaper never condemned them. On the contrary, indirectly they supported these actions. Unfortunately, in Malta, actions are only condemned if they effectively hit a particular section of the media. If that same action hits a citizen that that same media wants to eliminate, then that action is lauded and praised.
Thus, the cheek of the editor of the Sunday Times of Malta is never-ending. He speaks of the right of the public to know nevertheless, the famous report submitted by Judge Emeritus Giovanni Bonello has been kept under wraps till this very day and has never been made public. Before the editor of The Sunday Times of Malta can start playing at being an oracle of wisdom and handing down lectures as to how others ought to behave. he should ensure that his newspaper leads by example and not cowardice.
Let’s hope that the police team investigating – at the request of Magistrate Montebello – will be allowed to work professionally without any interference of any kind and finally bring to justice those who have brazenly been challenging the law of our land. The only sad part in this particular episode is that Fenech’s mobiles have been in police hands since the day of his arrest more than a year ago. So who had and still has access to these phones? The Editor surely knows who is passing on these leaks to his desk but obviously will not divulge its source! What rectitude. Yet the editor was prepared to disregard a legitimate court ban and so cocksure is he, that even a possible injunction for contempt of court does not seem to bother him. What a lark.
If the police fail in their task to unearth the mole, they will be showing us that they are not behind establishing the truth but are backing and supporting organized crime – an argument sustained by none other than the Caruana Galizia family.