Spoleto: lawsuit from the former mayor collapses

Daniele Ubaldi, chief editor of Spoleto Online acquitted. “This action does not constitute a crime”.

On the 13th November 2019, Judge Luca Cercola of the Court of Spoleto acquitted Spoleto Online’s editorial director, Daniele Ubaldi, from the charge of libel. The journalist, defended by the lawyer Michele Faustini, was acquitted because his action “does not constitute a crime”. The legal fees were at the expense of the plaintiff. The court decision came eight years after the lawsuit. The judge could have declared the action a criminal offence. During the trial, the prosecutor had asked for an 8-month prison sentence.

THE FACTS – The former mayor of Spoleto, Massimo Brunini, had filed a lawsuit on June 20th 2011 asking for damages of 25 thousand euro, in reference to an article published by Daniele Ubaldi on Spoleto Online on April 1st, 2011.

That article, entitled “The Poreta Racetrack: Brunini against Calabresi”, related to a criminal trial pending before the Justice of Peace of Spoleto in which the former first citizen, mayor of Spoleto for two terms from 1999 to 2009, was in a dispute with an alderman of his council, Giampiero Calabresi. That racetrack affair had generated political and legal repercussions between the first citizen and the councillor.

According to Massimo Brunini, the article by Daniele Ubaldi had damaged his reputation, because it discredited his image, attributing to him the responsibility (…) “for a well-known political affair very much felt at the local level” and also it “indicated a clearly false imputation”. The former mayor also alleged that, “instead of publishing the correction of the lawyer in full, the journalist only published a piece of it.” On October 19th 2016, the Public Prosecutor Patrizia Mattei issued a summons to Ubaldi.

THE JUDGMENT – The Court ruled that Daniele Ubaldi “contributed to the spread of news that was objectively detrimental to the reputation of the former mayor (…) but he did so in conformity with truth, the public interest and expository constraint” in dealing with a public figure who, among other things, holds an elected office.

The journalist expressed his satisfaction and released to Ossigeno per l’informazione the following statement “With this acquittal a burden has been lifted from me. I experienced a difficult period both from a professional but also psychological point of view. “

Daniele Ubaldi faces another libel trial, following another lawsuit also filed by the former mayor Massimo Brunini for a post published on Facebook in February 2016.

Andrea De Tommasi

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