Photo: Matthew Mirabelli/AFP 

I have decided to file a libel suit against Simon Mercieca. On his blog he folded into a smattering of half-truths a bunch of lies about my time as a government employee before the 2013 general elections. I have never, before now, had to defend myself from accusations of corruption, even at the height of the public’s unhappiness with the bus system. I left public service in 2013 with nothing more than what was left of a salary I earned, in amounts that were public knowledge and tabled in Parliament.

And yet Simon Mercieca, the agent of the people who are defending themselves from the charge of killing a journalist and people who are defending themselves from charges of the corruption that journalist exposed, is spewing lies laced with inconsequential or downright misleading details of which these evil people are aware.

I first became aware of Keith Schembri in 2006 when he proposed a project to take over the Mediterranean Film Studios. That fact, which I have never made a secret of, has now made it to Simon Mercieca’s blog together with a set of complete lies. Simon Mercieca describes his (or his principals’) fabrications as “a genuine attempt by Keith Schembri to turn the Malta film industry from a bankrupt enterprise into a reliable and profitable industry,” which suggests that at the very least Keith Schembri must like what Simon Mercieca has written.

I responded to those fabrications by sending a purely factual response as a ‘right of reply’. Mercieca published that response but buried it under a new post saying that I had “confirmed” what he had first alleged. I had done the opposite.

I have no choice but to sue him.

I don’t think that means he’ll shut up. I can only presume he will be speaking with the Fenechs about Arriva and together with them weave another tower of fabrications shorn up by entirely true details. I expect he’ll report that I held a constituency event in the Dolmen Hotel when I was an election candidate in 2013 and I got the venue lent to my campaign for free. Or he’ll report that a cousin of Yorgen Fenech gave me a few hundred euro towards the cost of my election campaign.

 This will prove nothing. But it will give Simon Mercieca grounds to proclaim my hypocrisy: that I’m a ‘holier than thou’ and therefore unsuitable as critic of Joseph Muscat, Konrad Mizzi, Keith Schembri and Yorgen Fenech and others, because I am not the very epitome of divine perfection.

This is precisely how real criminals avoid the outspoken indignation of innocent bystanders. It’s the shabby false equivalence tactic that has served the thugs so well in the past. I’ve had my downfalls before, who hasn’t?  Every two years or so I’ve been undercut by fire, friendly or full of enmity, and I have taken that in my stride as the inevitable heat that comes with walking into the kitchen.

I admit Simon Mercieca’s clients now have me where they want me, defending myself and sounding like them, protesting that ‘I am not a crook’. They’d rather have me do that than continue to apply the pressure I, together with many others, have squeezed on them after they did away with Daphne Caruana Galizia. They have lured me to a trial of my years in government before 2013, a matter that now, devoid as the narrative remains of any previously unknown facts, should interest no one outside a very dull history class. They’d rather speak about that as if they were reporting live coverage of another world than allow us to speak about their years in government since 2013.

Just because I have the audacity to speak the truth on Simon Mercieca’s clients does not give Simon Mercieca a license to lie about me. It is necessary to make that point in court.