The civil court has sentenced Austin Gatt to pay €1,000 damages to Marlene Mizzi, now MEP, in a libel suit which Mizzi filed against Gatt more than 12 years ago. This is the second libel case which Mizzi won against Gatt, the first being a sentence delivered against Gatt by the Criminal Court.
Marlene Mizzi had resigned voluntarily from the Chairmanship of Sea Malta in June 2005 because she disagreed on how the privatisation of the national shipping line was being handled by Austin Gatt’s Ministry. Subsequent to this resignation, initially strongly refused by PM Gonzi, Minster Gatt had claimed in parliament that Mizzi “squandered public funds”. Mizzi had challenged Gatt to repeat this statement outside parliament where he is not protected by parliamentary immunity – something which he did in an interview with The Times on 1st July 2005. This led to Marlene Mizzi filing libel cases against the then Minister, in the criminal and civil courts. Mizzi won both cases.
In its sentence the Civil Court decided that the contents as published in the interview given to Steve Mallia, on The Times on 1st July 2015 entitled “No prospects of national shipping line ” cannot be considered as “value judgement and fair comment, but are libellous and slanderous in her regards”. The court ordered Austin Gatt to pay Marlene Mizzi €1,000 damages including interest from the date of the sentence until the effective date of payment, as well as all court expenses.