No compensation, says the judge after 15 years

The journalist Matteo Lauria had been sued by Nicola Tridico, former president of the examining committee of a competition for social workers. The publisher and a politician had also been cited.

Only on December 29th 2018 the judge of the Court of Castrovillari, Guglielmo Manera, acting alone, rejected the claim for compensation made 15 years earlier by Nicola Tridico, former president of the examining committee of a competition for social workers at the former health centre of Rossano (Cosenza), from the journalist Matteo Lauria, from Antonio Casimiro, local secretary of the Republican Party at the time and from Salvatore Caruso, publisher of Radio Rossano Centro. The Court ordered Nicola Tridico to pay 50 per cent of the legal costs to each defendant.

In 2003 Antonio Casimiro was in the studio of Radio Rossano Centro. His statements were considered by Tridico to be detrimental to his reputation. In particular, although not explicitly mentioned during the radio broadcast, Tridico considered defamatory what Casimiro said about some irregularities in a competition for social workers, already the subject of articles in the press. Furthermore, according to the judgement, Tridico considered that the attitude of Lauria was defamatory since in conducting the broadcast, Lauria Casimiro gave Casimiro the opportunity to present his opinions without distancing himself from them.

Tridico considered himself defamed by some expressions used by Antonio Casimiro in 2003, during an episode of the radio broadcast “Dialogando” conducted by Lauria and had asked for damages for a total of fifty thousand euros, plus two thousand against only Lauria for violation of the press regulations.

For the judge, the statements expressed in the broadcast “do not appear to compromise in the eye of the public the reputation of Nicola Tridico as they were not addressed to him personally neither explicitly, nor implicitly, besides their objectivity”.

“Beyond the statement of merit – said Lauria to Ossigeno – in Italy it is becoming increasingly difficult to practice journalism. In addition to reckless complaints, civil lawsuits are constantly being resorted to with continuous requests for damages. The information sector, like many others, is experiencing an unprecedented historical crisis. In a state with the rule of law – he adds – everyone is free to take legal action when they feel injured. But it should be done with common sense, taking into account the cardinal principles of the right to criticize, report, freedom of expression and thought. The aggravating circumstance – explains Lauria – is constituted by the fact that journalists do not enjoy protection, apart from drawing on a minimum guarantee fund but only if you have certain requisites, nor is it possible to resort to professional liability insurance. The journalist – he concludes – even if cited, and although he has reason on his side when a lawsuit is filed, is still forced to make an outlay in terms of money “.

Antonino Cicero (wt)

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