Malta Today columnist Raphael Vassallo has been awarded today €1,000 in damages after an article that appeared on this website made reference to his writings. Raphael Vassallo sued me and lost the case in the lower court presided by Magistrate Rachel Montebello.

Judge Lawrence Mintoff this morning revoked the lower court’s decision.

In his judgement, Judge Lawrence Mintoff disagreed with the lower court and said that an ordinary reader would conclude that this website implied that Raphael Vassallo is connected to the mafia. The judgement says this website was unfair in quoting an extract of what Vassallo had written without giving readers an easy access to the wider context leading readers to reach a harsh conclusion.

Judge Mintoff disagreed with the lower court on the impact of what this website said about Vassallo and considered that “on social media one cannot rule out the impact that the last paragraph would have had on people skimming over the text, because on social media the first and last paragraphs are given greater attention”.

Judge Mintoff also criticised the lower court’s decision because the lower court considered the author of this website, Manuel Delia, as some authority on the subject. The appellate judge said the lower court should not have allowed this website’s author’s opinions to be used to strengthen the theory published on his blog.

The appellate court pointed out that Raphael Vassallo has 25 years of experience as a journalist and therefore it can be easily said that this website’s remarks about him harm his reputation and have the potential of damaging his reputation. The court pointed out that this website never offered an apology to Raphael Vassallo, never published a clarification, and never corrected what it had published.

The court awarded €1,000 in moral damages to be paid by this website to Raphael Vassallo and for this website to carry all legal costs for both stages of the court process.