Yesterday in court

Published: September 7, 2011 at 10:44am

I know that many of you were expecting me to write something about this yesterday, but I just wasn’t up to it. When I took the witness stand, I had been awake for 26 hours, sorting documents and preparing my testimony on top of the other deadlines to which I was committed.

I then spent three and a half hours on that witness stand, talking almost without pause, and when I came down I was drained, shattered and went straight to bed.

I will not be writing about it this morning because work is pressing. But I want to say this and I want to make it very clear.

It was not Lou Bondi who spoke to me from Magistrate Consuelo Scerri Herrera’s house about the malice with which the magistrate spoke of me in front of others. It was Rachel Attard.

Lou and I spoke about it afterwards, in the days that followed, not while he was at the magistrate’s house. Lou knew about it for the simple and obvious reason that he is Rachel’s companion. And Lou and I spoke about it because we have been friends – family friends, not political ‘friends’ – for two decades.

I regard what Rachel Attard did as an act of great decency and friendship, for which she has my utmost respect and eternal gratitude.

She is a good person. A not-so-good person would have taken pleasure in the magistrate’s malice and would have betrayed me through dishonesty in saying nothing – the ‘Maltese’ way.

As a true friend, she did the only thing possible and, dismayed and shocked, sent me a text message to alert me.

I was at supper (elsewhere) and went to the bathroom as the only place where I could have privacy in ringing her back. She said hastily that she couldn’t talk, I realised she couldn’t, and we spoke immediately she left. We then spoke at length the following morning.

It was I who was in the bathroom for privacy, and not Rachel Attard or Lou Bondi. If this was not clear in my testimony in court, then I will make a point of correcting it during the next hearing.

It was reported in a newspaper today that I said in court the magistrate had been discussing various court cases with her dinner guests (something she is prohibited from doing). That is not what I said.

I said that the magistrate discussed one case in which I was involved, and that she did so with malice. She may have talked about other cases with other people -and might well have done so judging by her standards of behaviour – but that is not what I said in my testimony.

I find it necessary to add this level of detail because, shockingly – and in a manner which illustrates the level of moral corruption to which some people have sunk – a few politically motivated individuals and reporters have clearly found this to be far more interesting and important than the fact that Magistrate Scerri Herrera had, for years, a secret double-adulterous affair with police inspector, now superintendent, Dominic Micallef, a prosecuting officer in her court. Even if he were not a prosecuting officer in her court, there are serious separation-of-powers issues here and considerable ethical ones.

The dangers of such a secret relationship between a magistrate and a senior police officer are numerous, which is why it is a disciplinary matter and not ‘just an affair’. In a civilised justice system, there is a concrete wall separating the police from the judiciary. This wall must never be breached, and when it is, justice and citizens are put at risk.

I illustrated this with the example given in my testimony: that even though the long affair between Magistrate Scerri Herrera and Police (then) Inspector Dominic Micallef has been over for some time and she went on to have another adulterous affair with the man she now lives with, they remain bound in collusion by their shared secrecy. Each has something over the other and this is a dangerous.

The magistrate hid – to keep her husband and now Robert Musumeci from finding them at her home – a stash of incriminating letters which the police inspector had written her. Why she wanted to hang on to them is anyone’s guess, but from my knowledge of her it would probably have nothing to do with sentiment and more to do with potential usefulness.

When this whole thing broke out, acting on instructions from the magistrate, police (now) superintendent Dominic Micallef worked to retrieve the letters – the evidence, that is – and only after they had been retrieved was I arrested and charged with defaming the magistrate.

I hope you realise just how shocking and disturbing this is, and if you don’t, start worrying. It means you have become like them or were like them to start with.

Here you have a senior-ranking police officer colluding with a magistrate to hide evidence that is detrimental to them both, as a result of which action a citizen – me, in this case – faces a possible prison sentence.

Police officers can be disciplined but the magistrate will not be because impeachment requires a two-thirds vote in parliament, and the Labour Party will support her all the way. She is one of their own and the party’s standards are, like hers, abysmally low.

More than anything else, this case saddens and depresses. As I said in court, matters have got seriously out of hand precisely because the checks and balances are not working.

I found myself in the dock because, while magistrates and judges are fully protected by security of tenure and can pretty much do as they please until they actually break the law in an overt manner as Noel Arrigo and Patrick Vella did, journalists who write about them are completely vulnerable to police arrest and prosecution, face imprisonment and large fines, and this works extremely effectively to deter the press from writing about these matters.

The elimination of the press from the equation has meant that the situation has continued to deteriorate and that citizens – while feeling a vague and persistent disquiet they can’t quite put their finger on, are kept in the dark about the antics of members of the judiciary and the police. That is why so many were shocked to find out about Noel Arrigo when he was arrested. Those of us who knew what he was like were not surprised at all.

When the judiciary, politicians and the police are not a check on each other because they are sleeping together in secret, the government has its hands tied because of the law, parliament puts partisan politics before integrity and journalists who blow the whistle end up arrested, in the dock and enduring criminal prosecution, things have reached a sorry, sorry pass.

Something has to be done, because what the government, the opposition, the law courts and the police are looking at right now is a major problem, and they don’t even realise it yet.

59 Comments Comment

  1. Dee says:

    If Her Honour has any vestige of honour left, she would be handing in her resignation forthwith.

  2. Frans says:

    Hi, it is always worrying when a journalist is accused and or senteced. And such cases should always be followed by us the voters with extreme care to details.

    Perhaps such cases are far more important than when parliament is discussing a law or something.

    The reason being is that democracy is nothing without media and if we do not have good journalists to ask the right questions to our leaders, we will remain forever ignorant of their doings.

    If there is no one to cry foul when a government (or opposition) does something wrong that government will slowly turn into something short of a dictatorship.

    For this reason we the public should follow this story with care and judge for ourselves irrelevant of political influences.

    Hence my question which is possibly due to the fact that I have missed something in the stories, but how did Daphne come to know of the existence of the love letters?

    • Grezz says:

      Clearly Daphne had the evidence, otherwise she would not have stated it under oath.

      You should instead be asking yourself why the prosecution did not see fit to question the existence of those letters. They didn’t because they know that what Daphne said is true.

  3. silvio says:

    Well done Mrs Caruana Galizia. I am following your case in court, not out of curiosity, but out of hope that this will eventually help in making our country a better place to live in, where every citizen, big or small, will know that his rights are protected.

    It takes people like you to stand up and fight for right to prevail.

    I do not hesitate in calling yesterday “Daphne’s day in Court”.

    While I am sure that you will come out vindicated, let me be the first one to asure that I and many others will be only too willing to cntribute to a fund, in the event that you will be condemned to some fine.

    This will be our way of saying Thank You.

    The above is coming from someone who sometimes disagrees with your writings, but I will always fight for anyone’s right to his opinion.

    [Daphne – Thank you, Saviour. But these are facts we are talking about, not opinions. Unless you are suggesting that whether a magistrate should or shouldn’t have a secret affair with a prosecuting officer and then collude with him, among other things, is still open to opinion and discussion in the civilised world.]

    • silvio says:

      No, I am definitly not suggesting anything of the sort.

      As a matter of fact I condem it – that is what I meant when I said “Where every citizen, big or small……”

      We should have our minds at rest that the outcome of a case does not depend on who is sleeping with who.

    • Michelle Pirotta says:

      Qed tahseb wisq f’Salvu, Daphne!

  4. John C says:

    Well done Daphne. It takes guts to expose this sorry state of affairs, but it needs to be done.

  5. Hot Mama says:

    Daphne, we owe you so much.

  6. fran says:

    Daphne you have all my support and sympathy. I am sure justice will prevail. I think Conseulo has ridiculed herself and humiliated her children in one of the worst ways possible.

  7. Jozef says:

    I started to comment on this blog when I realised that my resigned silence could be taken as tacit consent.

    Here’s to the one who exemplifies true spirit.

  8. mario lanza says:

    God must have sent you, Your Honour, hundreds of hints that He didn’t want you to keep doing what you were doing.

    But you did not listen.

    So He sent you a nuclear bomb: the DCG version.

  9. Philip says:

    One thing is beyond forgiveness, and that is the absolute silence of the media in all this. Journalists, if one can call them that, should be ashamed of themselves. I’m afraid many of them are a disgrace to their profession.

    • Grezz says:

      Given the shoddy way Daphne has been treated because she dared to expose Magistrate Consuelo Scerri Herrera’s antics (as opposed to those of Consuelo Sceri Herrera, the private citizen, who does not exist in such a case), do you blame them? I do not agree with them keeping silent. Then again, very few people have the rare combination of balls and good morals in Malta.

  10. Pecksniff says:

    Posted as a comment beneath the report on

    “During Latin classes at school many years ago, we were taught “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes” (“Who will guard the guards themselves” or “Who watches the watchmen ?”);is this still relevant in this day and age ? Where does the Commission for the Administration of Justice stand on this matter ?”

    Reading other comments, it is very much a case of “ix-xejn mu xejn” ; I think the elves are out in force, not realising the mess we are in.

  11. Bob says:

    May God bless you and your family. You are in our prayers. May the truth be told.

  12. anthony says:

    Corruption in Malta flows like sewage in a sewer.

    When, rarely, a true journalist opens up the “spukxin” (Maltese for inspection manhole) the result is a breath of fresh air for the entire country. Apart from the corrupt minority that is.

  13. Joe Micallef says:

    Unless it is the slaved elves on a rampage, I was disgusted to read so many dangerously stupid comments beneath the report.

    Beyond any ruling, how can someone rest his mind about the judiciary if Herrera’s type of behaviour is not eradicated!

    Not only, how can one accept that a brother could take up cases in a court presided over by his sister!

    No member of the judiciary should be appointed if she/he has first blood relatives serving as lawyers, prosecutors or MPs.

    Daphne you will never walk alone! This is too serious!

    • Grezz says:

      The range of “stupid comments” on is a true cross-section of the Maltese people in general. Take a look around you.

    • Antoine Vella says:

      The persons in charge of The Times website were very selective about the comments they uploaded. Mine, for example, did not manage to make it through their biased filter.

      For the record I had noted how Labour supporters were displaying their characteristic redneck sexism: U ijja! Ġlieda bejn in-nisa.

      I also mentioned that it was worrying that a magistrate was so very friendly with people whose cases she had to judge.

  14. M - A says:

    Cut this formidable article and paste it on a golden book.

    Truth. Daphne yesterday depicted the holy truth, leaving the magistrate speachless.

    Both PN and Labour must exert any kind of pressure, inducing Consuelo to resign immediately.

    Our court has to be a respectful place, and Daphne is contributing to make it cleaner. Forever.

    • maryanne says:

      “leaving the magistrate speachless”

      Apparently even her lawyer was left speechless. I expected tougher questions from him.

      • M. says:

        The magistrate knows the truth; her lawyer, on the other hand, probably didn’t know what he took on – either that, or he felt flattered by the kind of attention he probably never got in his youth.

  15. Rover says:

    What surprises me is that even after Noel Arrigo and Patrick Vella there are still members of the judiciary who have no regard towards their own profession and have let the side down so badly.

    There are so many things wrong with the behaviour of this magistrate that nothing short of her resignation would be acceptable.

    I cannot but agree with Daphne that there are no checks and balances left in the system and the magistrate is fully aware of this.

    Are we expected to believe that the Commission for the Administration of Justice will take action when family members of the President are in and out of the magistrate’s house at the drop of a hat?

    Fat chance.

  16. Ben Dover says:

    Dear Daphne,

    Although I am someone who sometimes disagrees with your blog posts, I certainly have much respect for you and for your determination in pursuing justice and transparency in this country. On the other hand I agree 100% with your comment on the lack of serious separation-of-powers issues especially those involving police corp members.

    Thank you dear Daphne!

  17. Jean says:

    Daphne, we have divergent opinions, especially on this government’s leadership. However I fully agree that what you are up against is not a matter of opinion but definitely a state of fact.

    Although you don’t need it you have my support.

    Why has the Commission for the Administration of Justice given up on the judges who blatantly don’t give a damn and continue to chair sporting associations? Yet, we then have the perfect example, demonstrating excellent integrity, with a magistrate resigning from the VOICES choir as he sees this as a potential conflict of interest?

    Why does no journalist hound these judges/magistrates who breach ethics? If I happen to be brought before them will they be lenient with me since they seem to pick and choose from the rules they should abide by?

    The only point I don’t agree with you is that you limit this malaise to justice and police. This government had ample opportunties to usher a new dawn in accountability but blatantly ignored them; why didn’t the prime minster ask for Dolores Cristina’s head for the EU/student financing fiasco? What about Tonio Fenech jet setting? What about Austin Gatt’s numerous fiascos? The accountability benchmark needs to be set from the very top.

    You can’t expect the police, judiciary or other institution to follow such accountability standards if the country’s leadership flouts them.

    You omitting this is in my opinion very wrong. Why do you expect such ethical and accountable behaviour only from the police and judiciary?

    [Daphne – Because when the police and the judiciary do wrong, the consequences are fundamentaly grave for citizens. And because the police and the judiciary are not elected and cannot be removed by citizens in a general election. The only thing that can remove a judge or a magistrate is a two-thirds vote in parliament. I believe you are making a serious mistake in conflating or equating elected politicians – individuals who are here today and gone tomorrow by order of the public – with the judiciary, or the police.]

    If the country’s leadership Iincluding the opposition) continues to flout accountability you have sowed the seeds of low standards and reaping the reward of sleaze and contempt that you have courageously brought to the for.

  18. GiovDeMartino says:

    I agree with Ben Dover completely!

  19. Dee says:

    The fall-out of yesterday’s court sitting on the way justice is perceived to be administered in this country cannot be ignored.

    Yet, no TV station thought it was significant enough to warrant a mention in the eight o’çlock news yesterday.

    The only journalist with balls and guts in this country to question this state of affairs appears to be Ms DCG. The rest are a bunch of bitchy, wishy-washy, lily-livered ”mammoni” who are best suited for writing obituaries for the local band club newsletter and comment on flower shows and the state of Malta’s hitan tas-sejjieh.

  20. paddy says:

    I would say only one thing…. you have the guts others do not have, then just keep it up.

  21. Jean says:

    Please replace prior comment with this:

    Yes you are right. I do see a clear distinction between ‘elected politicians’ and other holders of office in public institutions.

    Having said that I still strongly believe that the tone must be set at the very top.

    I’m sure you’ll prevail in this too. Wish you luck.

  22. Harry Purdie says:

    One fair, sharp lady against the thundering barbarian horde. My money’s on the lady. Will give odds.

  23. carlos says:

    Well done Daphne. It takes guts for a Maltese lady to take such a stand knowing the Maltese for their omerta’.

  24. Delacroixet says:

    I may be an alarmist, but I believe we are one step away from the political abyss.

    A group of people might soon be in charge of the three branches of government. It will soon be Judge, Jury and Executioner; and this ring might soon have the power to be rid of all who stand in the way of their own aggrandisement.

    • Min Weber says:

      You could not have said it better.

      I pray to God that a coalition of men and women of good will, from both parties, unite to get us rid of this blemish on humanity.

  25. Carmel Scicluna says:

    I’m on your side, Daphne. I’ll pray to God that truth will prevail in this serious matter.

  26. j.l.b.matekoni says:

    Hi Daphne

    I was gobsmacked by your courage and testimony – even though the papers seem to be reporting with a huge dose of “prudence”.

    As a small token of support I have stopped buying Malta Today. Their reporting on your case convinces me I made the right choice.

  27. D Kiss says:

    The Maltese omerta’ is because all are afraid to stand alone – such cowardice at all levels.

  28. Spiru says:

    Well done ! A real journalist with guts and balls. And no-one mentioned it on the news. Disgusting !

  29. Martin Schranz says:

    Daphne, I would like to express my utter admiration, and also my awe, of yourself, for exposing these shocking collusions.

    Your research, your investigative work and also your testimony have been outstanding and I can only postulate on the significant personal sacrifices you must have endured by bringing these forward, including of course those 26 hours you spent awake before your testimony.

    My heart goes out to you. You are a true heroine and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you are doing for my country.

    You have rekindled my faith in humankind. For sure you will go down in history as Malta’s most courageous journalist ever and future generations will have you to thank if we ever achieve a fair justice system on our island.

    Please set up a fund so that we can contribute to your expenses. It would be truly a worthwhile cause and worth every cent.

  30. *1981* says:

    Thank you for all you do !

  31. Edward Caruana Galizia says:

    As many people have pointed out, this case shows the main problem with democracy in Malta.

    Democracies in other, larger countries do better when it comes to keeping politicians and other members of the judiciary in check since these people are distant and not familiar to the man in the street.

    When I say distant I don’t mean aloof (snobbish) but geographically and socially distant. It is unlikely to find anyone in the UK, US, France or Germany talking about a friend of a friend of a friend who is a politician. The only other context I can think of is in Sicily, when talking about the Mafia.

    Since everyone is so close to each other, not just geographically but also socially, then the parameters in which people of high positions in society must live in become weaker since everyone is friends and treat everyone like friends.

    A clear example of this can be seen on the comments where people talk about how unfair it is to target a person just because she has parties and is friends with other people who just happen to be politicians and police officers- as though they were talking about a regular housewife who was somehow targeted by a journalist. How naive can they be?

  32. edgar says:

    That other journalists did not comment or investigate is no surprise to me.

    What is worrying is that the PN have not asked for the resignation of this magistrate who is a disgrace to the judiciary. I expect and demand that the PN issue a press release calling for the resignation of Consuelo Herrera.

  33. Antoniette says:

    I always lose respect for people when I find they vote Labour ( I lived through the horrendous Labour years) and now I also lose all respect for anyone who disses Daphne.

  34. I.R.A.B. says:

    Well done Daphne. I don’t even have the balls to use my real name on your blog, and you are willing to take on the people who will be in power in 18 months time (and a vindictive bunch they are). I’m full of admiration for you. Good luck with the rest of the case. I’m confident justice will prevail.

  35. Jozef says:


    Jozef is not a pseudonym.

    How many people do you know with this name?

    This blog isn’t about me, it’s about the space offered to people like me.

    This is Daphne.

  36. red nose says:

    Let us hope that the working on this case will not drag to 2013. With such thick-skinned people “mas-saqajn” Malta cannot even start hoping for a decent future.

  37. red nose says:

    Has anybody thought of putting an impeachment motion in Parliament? I know it will not pass, because it will need a two-thirds of the house; but at least there would be a record of this magistrate’s doings. This would at least show that there is at least one person – yes one – with some decency (apart from Daphne, of course).

  38. Matt says:

    I just read this article. All journalists should be like you Daphne. A lot of them are spineless and are shortchanging our small nation.

    If all the scandals are immediately known, people in public office will think twice about breaching their fiduciary responsibility. Something to be said about the American media.

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