Labour MP Glenn Bedingfield said on Monday that Standards Commissioner George Hyzler had attempted to mislead the House of Representatives in a public statement he issued in reply to his speech in the House two weeks ago.

Speaking in parliament on the adjournment, Bedingfield said his criticism was not against the Office of the Standards Commissioner but against the way it was being run by the person at the top.

It was clear that Hyzler was not adopting the high standards he expected of the government side of the House.

Standards dictated, Bedingfield said, that the commissioner should reply promptly to questions asked of him in the House. That was what Hyzler expected others to do, and yet he was continuing to refuse to answer questions tabled on February 24.

In his public statement just over a week ago, Bedingfield observed, Hyzler defended the fact his driver was on pay scale nine, the same as doctors or teachers employed by the government. He had argued that ministerial drivers were also on that pay scale.

But, Bedingfield argued that ministerial drivers had far more work to do. The issue with regard to Hyzler’s driver was tantamount to squandering of public funds and political patronage.

"It was well known that Hyzler drove himself. So why did he need a driver?"

Bedingfield recalled that two weeks ago he raised questions about the consultants and employees Hyzler had engaged, questioning their background and the fact that they were not engaged after a public call.

In his public statement, Hyzler had said two of the employees were already in the public service but had been detailed to his office.  

"Why were these people chosen over others, what standards did they have?"

Hyzler had said he did not know of any shadow or allegations hanging over his staff.

"Perhaps he should investigate and explain why he had engaged a person found guilty by a court of negligence as an auditor. Or another person who had been previously removed from an important office because of serious allegations." 

Another consultant was a relative of an activist in civil society, creating at least a perception of conflict of interest, he said.

The commissioner could also investigate how a member of his staff had run up a €3,000 bill through the use of a fixed-line telephone.  This was public money and an investigation was needed if Hyzler was to be taken seriously.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us