A magistrate has fined a local man €2,000 after he took to the popular Facebook group Are You Being Served? to call the owner of Pool & Spa a “thief” and a “criminal” over a dispute regarding a pool pump.

Olvin Mangion, of local company Pool & Space, did not take kindly to the accusation made by Andrew Tabone in June 2019, instituting libel proceedings.

In his post, Mr Tabone claimed that Pool & Spa was engaged by his grandfather to replace a pool pump in a communal pool in a block of apartments.

A year later, the defendant called the company to say that the pump was no longer working. Mr Mangion sent workers who said that the pump was damaged, not defective, rebutting Mr Tabone’s claim that it was second hand.

Magistrate Rachel Montebello, presiding over the case, said the technicalities of the pump’s operation was not in her remit, but the Facebook post, where Mr Tabone called Mr Mangion a “thief”, “criminal”, and “lowest of the low”, was.

The Court condemned this kind of public posting, and emphasised that the right to freedom of expression could never be interpreted as blanket protection for people to post whatever they wanted with no regard to an individual’s reputation.

Magistrate Montebello therefore fined Mr Tabone €2,000 after finding that his comments were libellous.

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