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Corporate London’s Maltese gloss
Daphne Caruana Galizia, Issue 1511
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HAPPIER TIMES: Maltese prime minister Joseph Muscat with Tony Blair
AFTER two years of delays, the investigation into the assassination of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia is finally making progress – and if certain legal and PR firms in London had a sense of shame, they would surely be feeling it now.

Since the arrest of businessman Yorgen Fenech at the end of November, three members of Joseph Muscat’s government have resigned and the PM himself has promised to quit in the new year. Thousands of demonstrators marched through Valletta last week, waving placards that read “Mafia State”, to demand he go at once.

Celebrity libel solicitors
Before a car bomb killed her in October 2017, Caruana Galizia faced continual harassment from English lawyers for her investigations into the Maltese elite’s business links.

Celebrity libel solicitors Mishcon de Reya harried her for investigating the Maltese government’s sale of EU citizenship to the global plutocracy (Eye 1470). Schillings, whose corporate slogan is “find the fix”, represented tourism minister Konrad Mizzi, assuring the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in 2016 that he was committed to “transparency and fair dealing”. Then came the inevitable threat: “Any insinuation or allegation that our client is attempting to conceal is therefore both false and highly defamatory of our client.”

The transparent Mr Mizzi has now resigned, along with Muscat’s chief aide, Keith Schembri. This followed the discovery of emails suggesting that Mizzi and Schembri stood to receive payments of up to $2m from 17 Black, an offshore company owned by Fenech.

Schillings also threatened the Malta Independent on behalf of Ali Sadr, chairman of the private Maltese bank Pilatus, warning that it would be “grossly defamatory” to imply he had any connection with money laundering. A year later he was arrested in the US and now awaits trial on charges of, er, money laundering and violating US sanctions against Iran.

‘A mafia state’
Meanwhile, the Bermondsey-based “reputation manager” Chelgate was hired by Joseph Muscat to protect his image in EU capitals as concern about the murder grew. Chelgate worked with a private intelligence firm in Luxembourg called Sandstone – whose briefings, published by the EUobserver last week, pointed suspicious minds away from links between the killing and the island’s elite. Instead they promoted theories that Vladimir Putin and Azerbaijan president Ilham Aliyev had conspired to assassinate Caruana Galizia, using a Chechen killer: theories that turned out to be so much, er, bollocks. Chelgate boasts to potential clients that it is an “achingly honest” firm. “We realise that we may be sounding a little sanctimonious,” it adds, as well it might.

More recently, as reported in Eye 1507, our old friends at Carter-Fuck have jumped aboard the gravy train, being instructed by the government of Malta to threaten journalists who had written a book on the murder. Faced with such a bombardment of legal threats and fake news, Daphne’s son Matthew Caruana Galizia and the rest of her family have learned the hard way about corporate London’s priorities. “They see a mafia state like Malta as a business opportunity rather than something that has to be vanquished,” he told the Eye.

More top stories in the latest issue:

FAKE NEWS ELECTION
Facebook’s failure to police political advertising helped a former Vote Leave data chief covertly run ads to split the anti-Tory vote in key battlegrounds.

A PRIME PLOT…
How a Tower Hamlets jihadi and former comrade of London Bridge killer Usman Khan leapt to the top of the council’s housing waiting list.

COURT CIRCULAR
What Christmas at Sandringham holds for Prince Andrew, who still hopes he’ll be back on parade in uniform by the spring.

GUANTANAMO WATCH
Pre-trial proceedings against Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, alleged mastermind of 9/11, will put both Guantanamo, and the use of torture, on trial.

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