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Former Ombudsmen urge Govt to fill vacant post

Former Ombudsmen Henry Pinna and Mario Hook have urged the Chief Minister to appoint a new Ombudsman, stating the position has been ‘regrettably’ left vacant for over a month.

In a letter to the Chronicle, Mr Pinna and Mr Hook stressed the vital need for an Ombudsman to investigate complaints from the public.

The pair called the failure to appoint an Ombudsman a “disservice” to the local community, adding this indicated an “apparent lack of importance to such an office that was established over 20 years ago to provide a service to those who seek their assistance.”

Dilip Dayaram Tirathdas stepped down from the role of Public Services Ombudsman over a month ago after serving three years in the post, with no appointee formally announced.

“Whilst the Office of the Ombudsman continues to operate, it is doing so without an Ombudsman at the helm as required by law,” Mr Pinna and Mr Hook said.

“We must thank the staff running the office for their efforts in doing so.”

“We have to remind the relevant authorities that having an Ombudsman is essential to investigate complaints made by members of the public in respect of public services and in turn make these service providers accountable.”

Mr Pinna and Mr Hook urged Chief Minister Fabian Picardo to appoint a new Ombudsman as a matter of priority.

During a session in Parliament on Monday, Mr Picardo said he expects to consult with the Leader of the Opposition, Keith Azopardi, over a new Ombudsman over the coming days.

In answer to questions by GSD MP Roy Clinton, Mr Picardo said the government wishes to appoint someone “as soon as possible.”

“The sooner we see an Ombudsman take up his or her role the better so that we can then see the office progress with the complaints there may be for investigation by the Ombudsman,” Mr Picardo said,
Mr Picardo also confirmed the position of Ombudsman would be appointed and would not be open for candidates to apply, in line with existing law and past practice.

The letter can be read in full on page 6 of today's print or e-edition.