Standards czar replies to Bedingfield on 'unfounded' claims in parliament

Standards commissioner George Hyzler writes to Speaker about claims about his office by Labour MP Glenn Bedingfield

George Hyzler
George Hyzler

The Commissioner for Standards in Public Life issued a hard-hitting riposte to allegations by Labour Whip Glenn Bedingfield, over a tirade in the House on the commissioner’s officer.

George Hyzler refuted claims that ranged from irregular budgeting for employees to biased judgements on Labour politicians, in a rare statement replying to an MP.

“My office does not permit me to be dragged into tit-for-tats with MPs, but it is my duty to reply to serious accusations, which are unfounded and affect the credibility of my office. Attacks like these undermine the efforts of the House to strengthen the country’s institutions at a time when the country needs to show these institutions are indeed working,” Hyzler said in a letter to the Speaker.

Hyzler denied claims by Bedingfield that his office’s documents had been leaked to third parties, and defended his staff as being bound by an oath of confidentiality. “If any report was revealed, it was only after my investigation was passed on to the president of the standards committee and its MPs.”

He also accused Bedingfield of having made an untrue claim of one of his staff being “under the cloud of corruption”.

“I made my inquiries and this claim is untrue and has not been substantiated by the Hon. Bedingfield, it is totally unfounded. If he indeed has proof of his claims, I ask him to forward them to me privately.”

He said Bedingfield was factually incorrect about his office not replying to his PQs, via the Speaker, having revealed the information on the office’s driver’s salary requested by the MP.

On his, Hyzler insisted his driver – the only one employed by his office – was paid €23,632; not a Scale 9 (€24,650) salary as pegged to ministerial drivers.

Hyzler also said his three consultants cost €54,000 annually, adding that they came with considerable experience in their field.

“I have already explained in one of my replies to the MP, via the Speaker, that I required these employees with some urgency upom my appointment, because I neither had staff nor an office to work with. But it is untrue that five of my six staff members are ‘persons of trust’: two were government employees detailed to myoffice on my request with approval from the Office of the Prime Minister; another was employed by public call.”

Hyzler also clarified that he had never stated that ministers should not engage person of trust, but that their employment should be regulated by the Constitution, and that safeguards should be in place to prevent any abuse.