In 2013, successful criminal lawyer Manwel Mallia, decided to enter politics. He was elected and appointed by disgraced Prime Minister Joseph Muscat as minister for home affairs. He was soon in the limelight because in his first declaration of assets he declared storing €500,000 in cash at home, snugly under some mattress one would presume. The stash was safely tucked away in a bank a few months later. More on this below.

In December 2014, he was again in the news when he was forced to step down from Cabinet by Joseph Muscat after his chauffer was involved in a shooting in the Santa Venera tunnels.

Being in the news was quite normal for Manwel Mallia. Daphne Caruana Galizia started investigating after a media report revealed that the Department of Health had been involved in a squabble with Mallia’s wife Elena Codruta Mallia née Cristian. Mrs Mallia allegedly failed to pay an outstanding bill of over €3,000 issued by Mater Dei Hospital.

Daphne Caruana Galizia wrote at the time that while the couple had married in July 2012, Dr Mallia’s wife had become a citizen of Malta just two years later, in 2014 – meaning that the legal requirement for a couple to have been married for five years before a foreign spouse can apply for Maltese citizenship had somehow been circumvented. At the time that his wife was granted Maltese citizenship, Manwel Mallia was the minister responsible for citizenship and as such wielded ministerial discretion to waive certain requirements, normally provided in sworn declarations, necessary for obtaining Maltese citizenship.

Manwel Mallia’s name was in the news again last week. Mark Camilleri mentioned him in his book A Rent Seeker’s Paradise. Before publishing the book, Camilleri claimed on social media that Mallia not only helped the laundering of proceeds from Libyan contraband fuel, but was also involved in this black business.

“Mallia owned a ship, called It-Turu along with another oil smuggler. This ship, named after Mallia’s father, used to go to Libya and buy contraband diesel from Fahmi’s mafia and in turn sell it to Malta’s main bunkerers Falzon and Falzon.” Camilleri also alleged that Mallia met with oil smugglers when he was home affairs minister, at the behest of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, and assured them that the government was not interested in what went on outside Malta’s territorial waters. He also claimed that Mallia used his declaration of assets to launder one million Euros.

Reacting to Camilleri’s Facebook posts Manwel Mallia replied through an email to the author: “You are being requested to immediately retract those defamatory and injurious words and are formally being informed that you are being held responsible for all damages envisaged by law over this abusive and illegal behaviour against me.” Mark Camilleri, cool as a cucumber, simply replied that the book was already printed and that Mallia should proceed with any legal action he was planning.

We know that Mallia ceded his parliamentary seat with the understanding that he would be made High Commissioner to the UK. But the government has been told that the British foreign office has concerns about the nomination of the former minister. Although nominated in August, Mallia has not yet been issued with a letter of agrément, which precedes his presentation in London of his credentials to Queen Elizabeth.

Mallia at the time of writing, has yet to take the case to the law courts. He knows the law. What is keeping him from suing the author? Is Camilleri on the ball?

Seeing what Camilleri replied to Rosianne Cutajar’s libel suit maybe Manwel Mallia is not taking risks.