Montague claims Integrity Commission ‘hell-bent on destroying me’
In a personal statement allowed by Standing Orders 18, with the leave of the Lower House and permission of the Speaker, St Mary Western Member of Parliament Robert Montague yesterday forecasted that the Integrity Commission (IC) would charge him in the run-up to a general election or “as an election is called”.
Standing Orders 18 stipulates that the personal explanation should be devoid of controversy, but Montague’s accusations against the IC prompted Opposition Leader Mark Golding to rise “on a point of order” to question the backbencher’s seemingly contentious remarks.
Montague told his parliamentary colleagues that the IC was “planning to raid my house, I have no problem nor objection, a person from a media house has asked around where I live because they are coming to cover a raid at my house”.
He indicated that the commission was requesting information on his statutory declaration.
“No matter what I supply them, the die is cast. I publicly criticise them, then I will be taught a lesson! They are going to continue asking for information and then, of course, charge me just before or as an election is called,” he declared.
In his remarks, Golding described Montague’s comments as “most improper”.
He said that “the conjecture about future acts which haven’t occurred, raiding of houses, releasing of reports before general election (were) pure speculation. This is not the purpose of a personal statement and it should not be allowed”.
Deputy Speaker Juliet Holness, who presided over yesterday’s sitting of the Lower House, admitted that a personal statement should not be a controversial one. She told Montague that his remarks should be “non-controversial”.
The government MP said that, since his previous criticism of the IC in Parliament, he has received an email from the commission requesting additional information on his 2018 to 2022 assets, income and liabilities. He said another email was sent to him withdrawing the request.
“Then, as usual, I got another email with more requests and even quoting my 2016 returns. The second letter was also withdrawn and replaced. But careful reading of the third letter tells me that it too will be withdrawn! Three letters and you cannot get it right,” he charged.
Montague said the IC was trying to “scare” him.
“They are trying to shut me up. They are hell-bent on destroying me,” he said.
He accused the anti-corruption body of treating him with “bias, malice and contempt”.
In its March 22 report of investigation, the IC charged that Montague overruled the Firearm Licensing Authority and approved gun permits to persons with criminal traces whose applications were either denied or their licences revoked.
But Montague said the IC could not find one instance in which he broke the law or abused his power when he was minister of national security.
He also charged that the IC could not find any action resulting from bribery or fraud and did not name him in its final recommendations.
“They made no recommendations for action against me. They made no recommendation for me to be referred to any other investigative body or agency,” he said.
Montague said on two occasions in Parliament he has called for a meeting of the Integrity Commission Oversight Committee to address his concerns. On Tuesday, he again echoed that call for the committee to meet and examine the report.