Relations between the government and the audit service are not in crisis, government spokesman Konstantinos Letymbiotis said on Friday.

Letymbiotis’ comments come after a report by the service on Thursday demanded President Nikos Christodoulides return €18,000 which it says he should not have received in paid leave, and come clean as to how much of the almost €40,000 he claimed for car mileage was for personal use, and return that too.

The audit service had also pointed out that Christodoulides’ appointment as government spokesman in 2014 had never been published in the government gazette or by the cabinet of the day.

Speaking to CyBC, Letymbiotis said the 2014 appointment of Christodoulides was “completely legal” and that the relevant cabinet decision had been sent to parliament and approved.

He added that there had been “no reaction or objection from the auditor-general” at the time, and cited an opinion published by the legal service in 2021 regarding a similar case.

He added that the government “fully respects” both the audit legal service, and said these roles “must be carried out by independent officials”.

Commenting on the findings of the report, Letymbiotis said “it is not prohibited for an investigation to be carried out, but questions have arisen over the timing chosen by the audit service to make the matter public.”

He also reiterated Christodoulides’ statements from Thursday that the matter will be referred to the legal service, saying “the audit service is drawing legal conclusions. The attorney-general should be responsible for this.”

Later on during the same news programme, lawyer and former Diko MP Andreas Angelides expressed his belief that Christodoulides is not required by the relevant laws to return the money the audit service demanded.

He said “the auditor-general is obliged to establish the mistakes that were made and establish responsibility, but there is a law which is quite specific on this issue.”

He said the law says that “if the state made a mistake and paid an individual for a service, and the individual in question has accepted that money in good faith, the state does not have the right to demand that money be returned.”

“If the individual who received the money so wills, of course, the money can be returned,” he added.

Additionally, he said that if an individual “knowingly takes money which did not correspond to the services they provided, then the mistake rests on the shoulders of that individual, and the state can demand the money be returned.”

This dispute is the latest in an escalating spat between the Audit service and the government, following damning statements about Christodoulides, including about the use of service vehicles to transport his children.