#AceNewsServices – BRUSSELS – Nov.30 – Europe’s Ombudsman has opened a fresh enquiry into the EU’s handling of corruption allegations at Eulex, its rule of law mission in Kosovo.

Emily O’Reilly, who heads the watchdog, notified Patrick Child, the top official in the European External Action Service (EEAS), which runs Eulex, about her “own-initiative” probe in a letter last Friday (14 November).

Citing press articles on the furore, she said “there are doubts” as to whether “EEAS/Eulex Kosovo has properly investigated/is properly investigating the allegations of serious irregularities reported by the … Eulex prosecutor”.

The prosecutor – a seconded British official, Maria Bamieh – complained to her superiors that her colleagues took bribes to shut down criminal cases and stymied an internal affairs probe.

She was later fired on suspicion that she leaked documents to a Kosovo daily, Koha Ditore.

But both she and the paper deny she leaked the files.

O’Reilly’s letter notes that EEAS/Eulex “have stated that a joint investigation was launched in 2013”.

It also notes the EEAS recently appointed a French academic, Jean Paul Jacque, to “assess the matter”.

The EU last week asked the UN to partly lift the immunity of one of the Eulex suspects, Italian judge Francesco Florit.

But with Bamieh claiming the 2013 internal investigation is “a lie … a complete joke”, O’Reilly complained that: “EEAS/Eulex Kosovo appear to have repeatedly declined to provide any information on what exactly the scope of this investigation was or what stage it has reached”.

O’Reilly added that Jacque’s mandate – to “check whether Eulex has adequate procedures to prevent corruption and whether it followed due process” – is so limited that she wants to make her own assessment “notwithstanding” his efforts.

She underlined that she will not look into Bamieh’s allegations as such, but will “verify whether EEAS/Eulex have taken all the necessary steps to examine” them.

She also asked Child to forward her “all the documents” related to the affair, promising to protect files which he “identifies as confidential” from “third parties”.

The EU Ombudsman, a Strasbourg and Brussels-based body, has around 90 staff and oversees “maladministration” in EU institutions.

Its reports are non-binding, but EU bodies have a track record of following up on its recommendations.

O’Reilly herself is an award-winning Irish journalist, who was also Ireland’s Ombudsman from 2003 to 2013.

Source: EUobserver Report – EEAS – EULEX


#corruption, #alleged, #ombudsman

Outdated Local Government Ombudsman to be reformed.

#AceConsumerNews says an independent review published on the (29 November 2013) recommends that the government reforms the Local Government Ombudsman, which deals with poor council services.

The independent review also recommends that consideration be given to the creation of a single public services ombudsman for England. Establishing a 1-stop-shop for problems or complaints will make it easier for the public to register complaints and seek redress.

Currently the public can complain to either the Local Government Ombudsman or the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman when they feel the have suffered poor service from local government and seek compensation.

The government shares the reviewer’s conclusions and intends to develop and test ideas for how such a 1-stop-shop service might operate.

In the short term, the government accepts the conclusions of the review that the governance arrangements of the Local Government Ombudsman service should be modernised, moving to a single Local Government Ombudsman for England, providing robust and consistent leadership, driving up performance and ensuring that the public can obtain swift redress when things go wrong.

The review conducted by Robert Gordon CB, a former director general in the Scottish government, carefully examined how the ombudsman operated and what would benefit taxpayers better in the future.

Read More: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/ombudsman-to-offer-better-public-redress-service

#local-government, #ombudsman