The Malta Independent 15 June 2021, Tuesday

Bedingfield ‘trying to undermine this office with unfounded claims’, Hyzler tells Speaker

Thursday, 6 May 2021, 17:19 Last update: about 2 months ago

Standards Commissioner George Hyzler has accused Labour Whip Glenn Bedingfield of consistently trying to undermine his office with unfounded claims and insinuations.

Hyzler wrote a letter to Speaker Anglu Farrugia in which he reacted to the latest rant by the PL MP.

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Bedingfield said earlier this week that “emperor” Hyzler had chosen consultants who were of “questionable” character. These included, he said, a person who was close to civil society, which often asks the commissioner to investigate matters related to government officials.

He also said that one of Hyzler’s employees had racked up a €3,000 bill on a landline phone.

The commissioner attached his consultants’ contracts of employment together with the letter and told the Speaker to feel free to publish them if required. He said he was doing so for the sake of transparency and with the consent of the persons involved.

He added that, according to the law, scrutiny of his office should be carried out through a specific Parliamentary mechanism, and not through Parliamentary Questions. Bedingfield has complained that Hyzler was “refusing” to answer his PQs. He also noted that he presents annual reports to the House. The law on standards in public life also makes it clear he said, that he is not a Parliamentary official, like the Ombudsman and the Auditor General.

Hyzler said he was replying to Bedingfield’s claims so as to address the allegations and avoid unnecessary harm to the institution he represents and its employees, who should not be attacked for carrying out their duties.

He said he is entitled to a driver as part of his package, which is approved by Parliament. He reminded that his driver is paid less but works more than a ministerial chauffeur.

He also denied the claim that one of his consultants had been foud guilty of neglicence as an auditor. No criminal steps had ever been taken against the individual. “As an auditor, he had nothing to do with the Price Club case and only became part of the civil case because the suit was filed against Deloitte and all of its partners were included.”

He also denied that one of his consultants has a son who is a member of civil society. Even if this had been the case there would be no conflict of interest because consultants do not decide the outcome of his investigations, Hyzler said.

“In the same way, the fact that the son of your legal consultant is a general election candidate does not lead to a conflict of interest.”

Hyzler told the Speaker that one should consider whether the “violent attack” by Bedingfield are compatible with the MP’s role as a member of the committee that considers the reports compiled by the Standards Commissioner about fellow Parliamentarians.

Bedingfield had also previously stated that another of Hyzler’s consultants was under the “shadow of corruption. Hyzler had denied this but had invited Bedingfield to come forward with any proof he might have. Instead of doing so, the MP had just repeated the allegation.

Hyzler said he had also looked into the €3,000 telephone bill claim but the allegation had not been substantiated. He once again invited the MP to come forward with details.

He said, in the absence of proof, “the only conclusion one can draw is that the MP is consistently trying to undermine this office by making unfounded claims and insinuations, not only against me but also against my employees, who are being victimised just because they are carrying out their duty.”

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