Advice given by a group of British lawyers to the Caruana Galizia family "undermined the rule of law by constituting an attack upon the independence and impartiality of the judiciary which lies at the heart of the sovereignty of law,”  Mr Justice Silvio Meli said on Tuesday.

He made his comment at the first hearing related to a case instituted by the family to have Deputy Police Commissioner Silvio Valletta removed from the investigation into Daphne Caruana Galizia's murder.

Mr Justice Meli also deplored "manipulative orchestration by the media" surrounding the event and slammed what he said was a neo-colonialist undertone to criticism of the process.    

Mr Valletta is married to Gozo Minister Justyne Caruana and also sits on the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit board. The had been the subject of criticism by Ms Caruana Galizia. 

The Caruana Galizia family say that Mr Valletta's involvement impinges on the investigation's objectivity and impartiality - a conclusion also reached by British law firm Doughty Street Chambers, which in advice solicited by the family wrote that the deputy commissioner should be removed from the case and that "external, impartial" investigators should be brought in. 

The law firm's advice was strongly criticised by the government, which called it a "huge insult" to Maltese courts and said its underlying implication was that the state was somehow complicit in Ms Caruana Galizia's murder. 

READ: Implication that State was ''complicit' in Caruana Galizia's murder lambasted by government

In a calm tone, Mr Justice Meli told all parties that the existence of the case was in itself causing damage to the country.

He observed that he had also been subject to criticism and invited the parties to declare their position in this regard.

Lawyers Jason Azzopardi, Therese Comodini Cachia and Eve Borg Costanzi appearing for the Caruana Galizia family and lawyer Victoria Buttigieg, appearing for police commissioner Lawrence Cutajar and deputy commissioner Silvio Valletta, all declared that they had no objection to the case being heard by the court as presided.

Mr Justice Meli urged both parties to discuss the possible option of an amicable solution before proceedings reached the evidence stage. Reaching an agreement would send out a strong message to the nation-at-large that the country's institutions applied the rule of law, he said, adding that the most vital issue underlying the case was that of "peace of mind". 

Dr Azzopardi, appearing for the Caruana Galizia family, said the matter could be settled in a matter of days. 

“It’s either one way or the other” he said, referring to Mr Valletta's involvement in the investigation. 

The case was adjourned to December 20, pending a possible solution to the dispute before that date.

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