Lou Bondi ‘guilty of character assassination’
The Press Ethics Commission has declared broadcaster Lou Bondi guilty of character assassination and unethical behaviour following a complaint raised by Illum editor, Julia Farrugia.
The complaint resulted from a blog by Mr Bondi on August 23 headlined ‘Julia try a red bathing suit this time’. The blog was written in the wake of another decision by the Press Ethics Commission where it had censured Ms Farrugia over a story she had written on PBS chairman Joseph Mizzi.
The commission said Mr Bondi had implied that Ms Farrugia was in possession or knew of video or pictures related to the fatal shooting of Raymond Caruana – and, by implication, was thus hindering the course of justice. It was also established by the commission that Mr Bondi, through his blog, a subsequent comment by Antoine Vella, and a link to a blog published the following day by Daphne Caruana Galizia, implied that Julia Farrugia’s father Karmenu was somewhat involved in the case.
Julia Farrugia’s father had been mentioned in uncorroborated evidence by Ġanni Psaila known also as Il-Pupa in relation to shooting at the PN Tarxien Club several days before the Caruana murder, but he was never charged, let alone found guilty of any crime, the commission observed.
The commission said Mr Bondi violated the Journalistic Code of Ethics by implying that Ms Farrugia possessed or knew of footage or photos of the Caruana murder and that she might recognise somebody in them – with a clear implication that it was her father.
Mrs Farrugia was not contacted before the publication of the blog, nor was the information verified in any manner.
Earlier in its decision the commission noted that Mr Bondi had not replied to its invitations to present his case.
Dr Toni Abela was counsel to Ms Farrugia.
In his reaction to the decision, Mr Bondi this was a “ridiculous judgement by a kangaroo court” which he did not recognise for reasons he had already explained in his blogs.
In one of his blogs, Mr Bondi observed that Ms Farrugia had not resigned from her post as deputy chairman of the Institute of Maltese Journalists in shame after being censured by the commission in the Mizzi case, but was instead taking him before the commission. Nor had she made a sincere and public apology to Mr Mizzi and his family for the pain and suffering she caused them. He said he was prepared to appear before the commission only if Ms Farrugia resigned from her post as deputy chairman of the Institute of Journalists, if she apologised to Mr Mizzi and, before resigning, if she issued an IMJ press release under her name strongly condemning l-orizzont for publishing a Joe Fava article calling for the “liquidation” of Peppi Azzopardi after the next election.