The audit service is engaging in character assassination and overstepping the limits of free speech, Attorney-general Giorgos Savvides said on Tuesday, as the two offices continued to exchange barbs.

“We have a loquacious audit service, which has misunderstood the limit of freedom of speech and proceeds continuously and in a targeted way to slander and create even character and conscience assassination, we have reached the point where all institutions and my office are constantly being denounced for corruption purposes and you know very well that this has always been the policy of the audit service,” he said speaking after making an address at the civil servants union Pasydy conference.

He added that the situation is disappointing and that they are always faced with two options, either answering to the allegations and being judged for creating a conflict or not answering and allowing the allegations [of the audit service] to remain unanswered.

He called on the public to realise the damage being done by the audit service, which he said makes “baseless claims that one is corrupt, the other is corrupt, the one is referred to the anti-corruption commission.”

He added that this situation needs to stop, as it causes problems to institutions, and public trust in institutions.

His comments came a day after deputy attorney-general Savvas Angelides delivered a stinging verbal attack on the auditor-general, who he accused of a deliberate and concerted campaign to blacken his name, vowing that he would no longer put up with this situation.

Asked whether he is aware of the four allegations that the audit service has sent to anti-corruption authority about Angelides, Savvides said that he is not aware of what they entail except for what the audit service has said “in its many appearances in the media.”

Savvides said that it is everyone’s right to report corruption if there is a complaint.

“But what is being done at the moment is that the complaints are constantly being made, and there is a constant impression being created in the public that a person is corrupt simply because the auditor general has decided to label him as corrupt,” he said.

He added that this pre-empts any consideration of any of his complaints to the anti-corruption authority.

The AG said that the anti-corruption authority in view of these problems should immediately deal with these matters, and it must do what is necessary if they find corruption, and if not face the consequences.

But later in the day, the audit service said that it will always serve transparency.

The audit service said it would not respond to the “unacceptable characterisations and accusations he chose to make.

“The attorney-general himself explains at every opportunity why his service leaves the citizens, even the House of Representatives, in complete darkness in relation to the cases he examines, and that for this choice of his he is judged by the citizens,” the service said.

The audit service added it will not allow the attorney-general to impose a blackout policy on their service.

“He [the attorney general] has no authority or right to enforce policies on our service,” the announcement said.

They added that they will remain “servants of transparency” and inform citizens about the actions of those holding a civil service position.