Standards Commissioner George Hyzler has refuted Labour MPs’ claim that there have been leaks from his office and he is calling on the Speaker to initiate discussions on the publication of reports.
On Thursday, Labour MPs demanded an investigation into leaks from the Standards in Public Life Parliamentary Committee.
In a statement, Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis and government whip Glenn Bedingfield referred to a Newsbook article saying that a report by the Commissioner had found minister Carmelo Abela in breach of ethical standards when he used public funds to pay for newspaper adverts promoting himself.
Zammit Lewis and Bedingfield demanded an investigation into the leak.
Reports are only kept under wraps until they are discussed by the committee when the Commissioner has found a breach of ethics.
On Friday the Labour MPs who sit on the committee failed to turn up to a meeting meant to discuss the Commissioner's report. The meeting could not be held in their absence.
In a letter to the Speaker, Hyzler said the report was not leaked by his office, which he said has “strict security on all documents and material”.
The Commissioner went on to note that “with the benefit of hindsight”, the procedure of not publishing reports that flag misconduct is “creating unnecessary polemics” and “gives rise to unfounded suspicions”.
This practice also goes against the principle of transparency, he said.
“With all due respect, I feel that the decision whether and when to publish a report should be my responsibility and not that of the committee,” he said.
Hyzler also called on the Speaker to “bring the matter up for discussion at the first opportunity”.
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