I can’t get over yesterday’s editorial of The Malta Independent on Sunday. Believe me I tried. The editor in chief of The Malta Independent, Rachel Attard, used to be a good friend of mine. Her partner, Lou Bondi, used to be a good friend of mine too even as he was, as he still is, the communications adviser for the db Group. I really wanted to let this one slide.

I could have if I could attribute this editorial comment to muddled thinking. Read the original because I’m unlikely to do it justice but in summary it says that Silvio Debono is doing our environment a great big favour — “the best thing for the environment” — by building what the editorial describes as a “monstrosity” in St George’s Bay and by suing the Planning Authority for “compensation in the six or seven digits” for the hiccup that had their first permit to develop said monstrosity suspended.

Even the author of the editorial realises this is a hard sell and asks us to read to the bottom of the article before showing up with “torches and pitchforks” at The Malta Independent offices. Well, I did read it to the end and here is my metaphorical torch.

The author of the editorial recalls that the court ordered the permit to db suspended not because of the merits of the project, such as they are, but because it found that there was a conflict of interest when Matthew Pace sat on the board that awarded db its permit while using his Remax franchise to sell db tower apartments.

The editorial proceeds to describe this state of affairs as if db was some innocent bystander — scratch that, a victim even. That’s the most perverse spin imaginable. Matthew Pace is a real estate agent and an agent’s client is the property’s owner and vendor: the db Group itself. The conflict of interest the court found exists because someone paid by the State to objectively decide on the db’s application is also paid by db as its agent.

db is no victim of this mess. It is its perpetrator.

The conflict of interest matters because since he was an agent of the applicant, Matthew Pace could not objectively evaluate the merits of his masters’ application. And therefore contrary to what The Malta Independent seems willing to concede, the merits of the application have not been fairly assessed when the first permit was granted.

The court cancelled the permit not as some form of unilateral act of spite but because its first acceptance was vitiated by at least this conflict of interest and therefore by a lack of objective appraisal.

The court has not been asked and therefore could not say if db have played even more foully for the first permit. It doesn’t matter. There’s no need for the court to cancel the same permit twice over.

The offending editorial argues that now that db is suing the Planning Authority, we’re all getting a more serious Authority that will evaluate other people’s applications with due consideration for the merits of their application rather on what commission the evaluators will be making on the sale of the development they authorise.

No, Malta Independent, not at all. We don’t have db to thank for that. If anything worthwhile comes out of this catastrophe, we have Moviment Graffiti, their lawyer and their supporters to thank.

They were the ones to challenge the conflict of interest which, much as The Malta Independent wants to exculpate db, Silvio Debono’s Group is very much culpable for.

We owe no thanks to the db Group. We can, as Moviment Graffiti do in this post on Facebook today, admire their sheer audacity in wanting tax payers to cover the costs of them having been caught hiring as their agent a regulator due to decide on their application.

They will be reading this tonight at the db Group. And perhaps they’ll be thinking this might be another good occasion for some 19 libel suits over a single blog post. They had reserved that treatment to Daphne Caruana Galizia and continue to insist her heirs pay them compensation for damage to what they have the brass neck of calling a reputation.

It’s a good thing The Malta Independent takes care of that for them. There seems to be something more sinister than muddled thinking going on here. I couldn’t let it slide.