The Prime Minister’s chief of staff would do well to stop threatening me

Published: May 15, 2016 at 4:52pm

The Prime Minister’s chief of staff would do well to stop behaving towards me as he is doing now. Might I remind him that I am not a rival politician, that I am not in politics, and that I am a journalist – more specifically, an independent journalist who is not employed by any politician or political party.

His behaviour towards me therefore constitutes, in his powerful position as chief of staff to a prime minister who knows no boundaries, a direct assault on freedom of the press and an attempt to intimidate those who are holding him to account.

Keith Schembri has over the last few days been lashing out with libel suits that follow on from threatening letters to the editors of The Malta Independent and The Malta Independent on Sunday, demanding that they take down in their entirety their stories about him, failing which he will hit them with a libel suit. When they ask him for detailed explanations of where their stories are wrong, he ignores them and insists that they take the story down completely. I am assuming that he is doing the same with the Times of Malta.

He has also issued extremely vague denials of the reports in both newspapers and – this is where it gets really ugly – centred those vague denials on me, without mentioning me by name so as to deny me the dignity of personhood, using highly intimidating and threatening language which make it clear that he plans to deal with me.

But at the same time he does not sue me, while suing the newspapers for reporting the same thing (today they reported a lot more) and for barely even giving their opinion. And he did not even pick up the phone when I rang him over the last couple of days for comment, following my discovery – which hasn’t yet been followed up by the newspapers – that he owns yet another secret offshore company, in Gibraltar. That information did not come from the Panama Papers.

The Prime Minister’s chief of staff isn’t sure how much I know or how I know it. But he’s busy working out how he can get me without putting me on a witness stand under oath. I think he needs reminding that not only is he a politician, but he’s an unelected politician who is not even there with the backing of his constituents. The Labour Party is unique in that it believes that holders of the highest public political office in the land can do as they please – as long as they’re Labour. This has been its entire history within living memory.

Schembri’s behaviour is beyond scandalous. And the reason the Prime Minister doesn’t shake him off his shoes is because those crooks never planned on governing. They planned, literally, on running the country like their own private business.

Next time I ring you, Schembri, have the guts to pick up.

keith schembri