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Ombudswoman suing audit chief for ‘spreading false news’ about her

Ombudswoman Maria Stylianou-Lottides

Ombudswoman Maria Stylianou-Lottidou said Thursday she was suing Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides over allegations he has been making about her office’s involvement with a cultural event.

In a statement, Lottidou said she had had enough of two-and-a-half years of harassment by the auditor-general, and was taking him to court for “spreading false news” about her.

The ombudswoman stated that she personally had no financial gain from the event in question, which she had agreed to place under her auspices after being asked to do so by the organisers.

The event, that was to take place in Limassol, was about raising awareness about violence against women.

Nor did the event’s media sponsor stand to gain any financial benefit, she added.

She was alluding to Kathimerini newspaper, whose publisher is her husband, Christis Lottides.

Lottidou said she was resorting to legal action because Michaelides had recently circulated a letter to House committees and to the attorney-general about the case where he suggested the ombudswoman had engaged in inappropriate conduct.

Lottidou said what’s at stake is not her personal vindication.

Rather, she added: “I have an obligation to send the right message as part of my mandate: that if a woman in a position of power uncomplainingly tolerates non-stop pillorying for her work and her ethos, then how can any other working woman in a subordinate position possibly complain?”

Meantime both Kathimerini and SppMedia Ltd – the media group which publishes the paper – are also suing the auditor-general for slander and are seeking a gag order against him.

Lottidou’s spouse is co-owner of SppMedia.

Having investigated the firm organising the event, the auditor-general found that it was established in 2012 but that neither its shareholders nor directors are listed.

He also discovered that the company has submitted no tax returns since 2014, and since 2016 has been declaring zero turnover in VAT filings.

What was problematic for the ombudswoman, Michaelides noted, was that she agreed to lend her office’s auspices to the event, allowing the “prestige of her office to be used for a clearly profit-making enterprise.”

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