Montague says the Integrity Commission out to get him
MP Robert Montague is claiming that the Integrity Commission (IC) has been on a witch-hunt to destroy him since he criticised the body over the handling of its 2017 special investigation report which concluded that he and Peter Bunting, during their tenures as national security minister, had acted improperly in the award of gun licences to men of “questionable character”.
An addendum to that report from the Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA), which absolved Bunting of any wrongdoing yet did not touch the aspect which spoke to Montague, triggered a series of scathing statements by the St Mary Western Member of Parliament (MP) in the House, speaking out about what he called an injustice.
On Tuesday, for the third time, Montague aired his grouses with the commission in a personal statement in Parliament, claiming that the entity is ” trying to scare me. They are trying to shut me up, they are hell-bent on destroying me”.
“There is a witch-hunt out on me. I understand that they are 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. If this planned raid is a fact, is this an abuse or misuse of power? When they cannot lawfully destroy you, they abuse the awesome power that they have,” he said.
“They are above criticism. If you do, they come after you. What a state of affairs. Look out for the statement or posting after this! At my age I don’t believe in coincidences, but I will cooperate. They have weaponised the commission so you dare not criticise them. This is spiteful, vindictive, and abusive, but I will endeavour to satisfy them as is required,” he said.
Montague claimed that since he made prior statements about the IC in the House, he has received three e-mail letters from the commission requesting additional information on his annual returns over various years, including 2018 to 2022 and as far back as 2016. He said two of the three letters were then withdrawn, and he is also expecting the third to be withdrawn.
“The Integrity Commission is abusing its powers. Any reasonable person would expect that if an annual return is made in 2018 and a request was not made for additional information and you made a return in 2019, in 2020, in 2021, in 2022, is it reasonable to ask four years later? 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. You mark my words, record it, and let’s see,” he said.
Montague again professed his innocence and called for the commission’s investigative report to be withdrawn, noting that “they could not find one instance where I broke the law; they could not find any abuse of power; they could not find any action resulting from bribery or fraud; and they did not name me in their final recommendations.
“They made no recommendations for any actions against me. They made no recommendation for me to be referred to any other investigative body or agency. Significantly, the Integrity Commission did not get a ruling against me from their own director of corruption prosecution. The reasons are that there was no corrupt act by me. Therefore, the report did not reach the standard set in law,” he said.
Montague further argued that the report which was laid in the House in March 2022 should have been rejected by the commissioners and should not have been tabled.
“I am renewing my call for a meeting of the oversight committee to meet and consider the March 2022 Integrity Commission report and to act appropriately,” he said.