22 Oct 2003

Fiji Labour Party leader says auditor general's report is politically motivated

10:34 am on 22 October 2003

The Fiji labour party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, has described the auditor general's report into alleged misuse of the party's parliamentary office as politically motivated.

The Fiji Times reports that the audit was to investigate whether Labour's parliamentary office was used for personal purposes by former journalist, Asha Lakham and whether office staff were performing duties for the National Farmers Union during official hours.

The report says the refusal by Mr Chaudhry to let office staff be interviewed by auditors and the feedback from the Labour Party office on the nature of Ms Lakham's visits indicated a high possibility of office facilities being misused by her.

Based on the results of interviews, the audit report said Ms Lakham regularly went to the Labour Party's parliamentary office and used all its facilities, and while Mr Chaudhry knew of this, he never restrained her.

Auditors who went to the National Farmers Union office with a camera to take a picture of the presence of Labour's parliamentary staff there were chased out by Mr Chaudhry.

But Mr Chaudhry is quoted as saying that the observations made by the auditor general were pure conjecture designed to please the Prime Minister's Office which made the original allegations.