Joe Grima resigns in fresh row
Muscat calls his offensivecomments ‘unacceptable’
Former minister Joe Grima yesterday resigned from his popular One TV programme Inkontri, hours after Labour leader Joseph Muscat said he found his offensive Facebook comments “unacceptable”.
Dr Muscat accepted his resignation, even though during an unrelated press conference yesterday morning he had shrugged off calls to take action.
Mr Grima made the headlines after using foul language to reprimand a British priest over a harshly worded obituary of late Labour leader Dom Mintoff in The Catholic Herald.
Unapologetic, he upped the ante yesterday morning by using homophobic language against former EU Ambassador and PN party strategist Richard Cachia Caruana, calling him: “Rich il-Puff”.
In a letter to Dr Muscat, Mr Grima admitted his comments about Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith were “certainly inappropriate”.
“I feel that neither you nor the Labour Party should in any way pay a price for what was, in every way, a slip-up which is being turned into one attack after another on you and the party,” Mr Grima wrote, adding that he valued diversity and was “anything but a homophobe”.
“I am therefore leaving Inkontri. In my opinion it is the honourable thing to do under the circumstances. I remain totally dedicated to your cause as Labour leader, to your ideals and to you personally.
“I wish every success. I know that you and our country deserve it.”
Meanwhile, Dr Muscat thanked Mr Grima for choosing the honourable path and taking “the best decision”. He also thanked him for his service, which he said was voluntary and earned him the admiration of many.
Earlier in the day, Dr Muscat was asked for his opinion on Mr Grima’s comments during a press conference to unveil the theme of the PL’s Congress next month.
The Labour leader said it was good that The Times raised awareness about such comments but it should also look at other unacceptable comments made online.
“What is good for the goose is good for the gander,” he said, clearly referring to the blog of Daphne Caruana Galizia, who incensed thousands when she welcomed the death of former Prime Minister Dom Mintoff with a piece titled “Glory, Glory, Allelluiah...”.
When chastised by Labour spokesman Kurt Farrugia in comments given to Net TV, Mr Grima said he had nothing to do with the PL, “but only with Muscat”.
When this, and the fact that other commentators say they are answerable to no-one, was pointed out to Dr Muscat yesterday, he said “whatever”, then reiterated this was a case of two weights and two measures.
In his rant on Facebook, Mr Grima claimed Mr Cachia Caruana was selling his villa in Valletta for €5 million, which had an “exclusive” permit for a pool.
Mr Cachia Caruana’s lawyer sent a letter to Mr Grima denying the information and asking for the post to be deleted by the afternoon, after which libel proceedings would be initiated. Mr Cachia Caruana actually lives in Mdina and his house is not for sale.
The comments were not removed from Facebook by the time of writing. Labour MP Luciano Busuttil had pressed “like” but withdrew it after the press conference.