PN wants George Hyzler as next Ombudsman, snubs government proposals

Opposition leader Bernard Grech has proposed George Hyzler as the next Ombudsman in informal talks with the Prime Minister

George Hyzler
George Hyzler

Updated at 10:30pm with PN source

Opposition leader Bernard Grech wants Standards Commissioner George Hyzler to be the next Ombudsman, snubbing names put forward by the Prime Minister, MaltaToday has learnt.

Hyzler’s name was put forward by Grech during informal talks with Robert Abela, sources close to the two leaders have said. The Opposition’s proposal was not well-received by the government.

Abela has suggested three names, including two former judges, to occupy the role that requires the support of a two-thirds parliamentary majority. However, Grech has snubbed the government’s names insisting on Hyzler.

Hyzler, a former parliamentary secretary in a PN government, was appointed Standards Commissioner when this role was created in November 2018. He has been a thorn in Labour’s side with his latest report coming down hard on Carmelo Abela’s advertising spree last November. 

Ombudsman Anthony Mifsud’s term expired last March and has indicated that he is not interested in a second term. Mifsud is legally bound to stay in office until a replacement is appointed.

The choice of Ombudsman requires cross-party agreement to reach a two-thirds parliamentary majority.

Sources said the talks have stalled and even President George Vella has been unable to solve the impasse.

“Bernard Grech’s intransigence to consider other names shows that the Opposition wants a partisan appointee despite government willing to reach an agreement on an impartial candidate,” a source close to government told MaltaToday.

However, a senior official within the PN said a number of names were mentioned by both sides during the discussions. "Discussions pertaining to constitutional roles between the PM and the leader of the opposition are confidential... The opposition proposed a former judge, a prominent lawyer and a high ranking EU official," the source said, accusing the Prime Minister of betraying the confidentiality of the talks with this leak.

"The PM is doing so because he is now attacking the institutions that he cannot control in order to score political points," the PN source said.