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European Social Funding for Gibraltar

Gibraltar's allocation of European Social funding, at about 650,000 pounds a year, has now been confirmed. It is primarily meant for the development of training packages targeted at specific needs.
The five priority areas are to develop active labour market policies, promote social inclusion and equal opportunities, develop education and training systems as part of a lifelong learning policy, improve systems to create a skilled, trained and adaptable workforce and to improve the position of women in the labour market and reduce labour market segregation by gender.
'The way the new programme is structured will allow Government to work with the private sector to target the training needs of Gibraltar's employment market,' said minister Keith Azopardi. (20.10.00)

Liberal Party for Canada conference

The leader of the Liberal Party Dr Joseph Garcia and secretary general Steven Linares leave for Ottawa this weekend to participate in the 50th congress of Liberal international.
Keynote speakers for the event are the prime minister of Canada, Andorra, Belgium and the president of Malawi. Other speakers include Charles Kennedy of the British Liberal democrats.
The Gibraltar delegates will participate in the think tank seminar on "Federalism and Minority Protection" and "Enforcing Human Rights".



No confidence in health department, say opposition

In a statement today the labour/liberal opposition say that the alleged incident involving the removal of x-rays from the health department, which has led to a police investigation, has further undermined confidence in the way the health authority is run.
The opposition say that it understands that the police was called after evidence was found that a lock was forced coupled with the suspicion that two files were missing, concerning a patient who had exposed that with the help of dismissed consultant radiologist Dr Rassa a 15cm surgical wire found was found in his leg 14 years after an operation.
The opposition accuse health minister Dr Linares of having mishandled the situation, undermining public confidence in the health service. (20.10.00)



History conference starts today

A conference on the history of Gibraltar and the Campo area started today. It is organised by the Spanish "instituto de estudios campo-gibraltarenos" and is sponsored by the Gibraltar government.
There will be 32 presentations, just over half of which will deal with Gibraltar. 
A core of papers will be presented by the Gibraltar museum and other institutions in Spain. Gibraltar's bilinguism, Moorish Gibraltar and rivers of the area are among the papers being presented. (20.10.00)


Royal Bank of Scotland to target British expats in Spain and Portugal

The Gibraltar branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland is to "postbox" its services into Spain and Portugal. It follows the recent agreement whereby Gibraltar banks wanting to passport their services to the rest of the European Union could do so through a system known as "postboxing", whereby their applications would be channeled by a London "postbox" to avoid objections from Spain in dealing direct with the Rock.
The bank has now gone through the form-filling exercise which "took longer than it should have done", said a bank official. But it was a matter of weeks and not months.
They are the first Gibraltar-based bank to forage into Spain and Portugal. The first requirement was to translate the forms into Spanish and Portuguese. The financial services commission will do the rest.
The current aim of the bank will be to target expatriates living in nearby Andalucia, in Southern Spain, who like to have a bank account on British soil. They will also be lending for property purchases in Spain - and hopefully take it from there as they widen the range of services available.
Once this initial plan is out of the way, the bank intends to target other areas of the Iberian peninsula. The large British expatriate population in the Algarve in southern Portugal is another obvious choice.
The bank is not going to open branches outside Gibraltar, but instead make use of office facilities at their partner bank - the Banco Santander . 
The scheme will "give us access to a far bigger market," said bank manager Kerry Blight. (19.10.00)


Opposition accuse Linares of "artistic censorship"

The removal of an exhibit for political reasons, at the Gibraltar international art exhibition this week, has been described by the labour/liberal opposition as "artistic censorship" by education/culture minister Dr Bernard Linares, who had the painting removed at his request.
The exhibit in question was by a Spanish artist and was entitled "The future of Gibraltar". It showed a mangled car. While the opposition agree that the painting is offensive, it adds nevertheless that "the exhibition is about artistic not political values and it is inconsistent with the role of the minister to exercise censorship in this manner."
The opposition adds: "Moreover, if Dr Linares wants to boast about GSD policy of inviting people from Spain to participate in an exhibition in Gibraltar, what he cannot then do is censor an exhibit if he does not like it."
It has also been revealed that , at a local school, control was recently exercised over the paintings the students could have on display, which caused much resentment.
"It is a matter of serious concern to the Opposition that the GSD government continue to behave in an intolerable and high-handed manner. The government seems to think that they are the only ones who are entitled to hold an opinion and be able to freely express it, and those who do not conform are either censored, sacked or risk being personally discredited and abused for holding a different point of view," said an opposition statement today. (19.10.00)


Police act on hospital missing files

Files containing x-rays are said to have disappeared from St Bernard's Hospital. The police are investigating, as the missing files appear to follow a break-in. (19.10.00)

Row over Dr Rassa continues

The row over the dismissal of the consultant radiologist Dr P.M. Rassa continues , with general practitioners in the health service now having come out in support of the radiologist,  saying that he has had an "impeccable" career in London before coming here and describing the services he has been providing as "excellent."
In another development, the labour/liberal opposition said this afternoon that serious issues have been raised and that it is significant that Dr Linares, the health minister, has not explained why the radiologist was dismissed before a public inquiry had taken place into "the very serious allegations" made concerning the Gibraltar Health Authority.
Dr Linares "must explain to the electorate why he comes across as being afraid to hold a public inquiry", said the opposition, saying that his attitude serves only to cause greater public concern and that the hasty internal arrangements "smack of a cover-up." The Government have shown they are not interested in finding the truth, they add. (12.10.00)

Container transshipment bid announced

Credit Agricole Indosuez have been appointed as the transaction advisers for the multi-pound container transshipment project at the port. The aim is to establish if there is a market for such business in Gibraltar, where best to locate the facility and what cost would be involved.
Shipping and the port would receive a boost from a maritime studies centre which is being planned.
Plans to enhance port facilities are also on the cards, following a statement by port minister Joe Holliday, who has also confirmed that a licensing system for all port operators is to be introduced. (18.10.00)

Controversial opening to art exhibition

Controversy raged at the opening of this year's international art exhibition, with a painting by Spaniard Jose Pereiro Lozano being withdrawn as it was deemed to be politically offensive. The painting resembled a crushed car and was headed 'Gibraltar's future'.
A total of 217 artworks, both paintings and sculptures, were submitted from Gibraltar, the UK, Spain and Morocco. A total of 116 were selected for the exhibition which remains open until 2 November.
The main prize of 3000 pounds went to Hector Carnero with his sculpture 'Mujer'. Mario Finlayson, Sylvain Marc,and Francisco Alejandro Macias Cuevas won the other main prizes. (18.10.00)

Spain recognises Gibraltar as "nation"

Special Olympics Gibraltar say that, for the first time ever, "Gibraltar was officially recognised as a nation by Spain", following participation in Spain's special Olympics games last week.
The Gibraltar team paraded in both the opening and closing ceremonies with a 'Gibraltar' banner in front. Other nations which took part were Andorra, Belgium, France, Greece, Hungary, San Marino and the UK. The games were officially closed by the wife of the president of Catalunya.
In the swimming events, Glen Wimbledon won two gold medals and a silver medal went to Stephen Poggio. Another two gold medals were won by Nicolas Llanelo in the soft-ball throw, also coming first in the 50-metre sprint. Darren Vinet won silver in the 100-metre sprint and won bronze in the long jump event.
Juan Antonio Samaranch, president of the International Olympic Committee, congratulated all the Spanish regional squads and thanked the guest nations. (18.10.00)

More taxi action

The Gibraltar taxi association, locked in dispute with the Government, today resumed selective strike action. They were out, with placards, as a cruise liner docked at Gibraltar.
The taxi drivers are against a new Transport Regulation which they say affects their civil rights and empowers the Government-appointed transport committee, and not the law courts, to decide what is unlawful, a condition which could lead to their licences being revoked.
In today's action, they also staged a demonstration outside the chief minister's office. (18.10.00)

Caruana: Willing to serve forever

"I am willing to serve for ever if that is what the people want," chief minister Peter Caruana told the Financial Times, in a Gibraltar supplement published today. His profile is headed A 'saviour' willing to serve for ever.
An article is headed 'Rock rises to new challenges', another reads "Bingo! The Rock hits a winner".
On track towards a higher profile is another piece, while tourism is seen as having "growing potential to scale new heights of prosperity". The airport is under-utilised.
An untimely headline, about the stricken nuclear submarine HMS Tireless, suggests that "Controversial issue begins to cool down", when in fact the opposite is the case, now that the Ministry of defence has admitted that repairs are more serious than anticipated and that a more complicated process will have to be followed. This has led to the MOD being accused of being "callous" and the Gibraltar Government is being asked to withdraw its support for the repair. (18.10.00)


UK tax break could affect Gibraltar betting

An expected reduction in the UK's betting tax could adversely affect the growing Gibraltar betting industry. A statement is due in Chancellor Gordon Brown's pre-Budget statement at the end of the month.
With British betting experiencing a downtrend, the Chancellor is committed to doing something about it, in an attempt to reverse the trend.
In the last three years, Gibraltar has seen impressive growth in the offshore betting industry, which now provides over 500 jobs. And the number of bookies on the Rock could increase if the Government lifted its selective policy which has already resulted in ten formal applications being refused.
"The government's policy is to limit the number of gaming licences generally, and to favourably consider applications only from reputable and experienced operators who have been licensed in other countries and who have a proven track record backed by sufficient financial resources and expertise," says the chief minister Peter Caruana.
UK betting turnover has fallen by one percent since March 31 when it was expected to rise by two per cent, says the Daily Mail, which adds that there are indications from Customs and Excise that changes are imminent to counteract the increasing flow of betting to low tax regimes overseas, of which Gibraltar is one.
Ladbroke has 60,000 UK-based telephone clients in Gibraltar, each paying three per cent 'tax'. Victor Chandler is the largest offshore operator here, out of a total of nine.
The upsurge in betting now makes a valuable contribution to the Gibraltar economy, which cannot really afford any large exodus from current operators. However, having set up here, it is thought that a competitive reduction in UK betting tax would be needed before anyone would start to seriously think in making a move. (17.10.00)

Repairs to Tireless more serious than expected

There is growing concern here at reports that the planned repairs to the stricken nuclear submarine HMS Tireless are now thought to be more serious than at first thought, with the Ministry of Defence admitting that a more complicated process may have to be used which would cause delays to the repair programme.
The MOD were saying only last week that preparatory work had been completed and that photographic evidence had been sent to the UK for further study.
The MOD and their civilian contractors (Rolls Royce Marine Power Ltd) had originally concluded that the leak in the coolant system was due to a small crack (2mm wide) in a weld. However, it is now being admitted that further study is required to determine the exact location and size of the crack.
A panel of nuclear experts hired by the Gibraltar government had identified a small possibility that the MOD may have misdiagnosed the location of the crack to be repaired.
The release of the confidential report is causing more concern than reassuring people. "It exposes many real worries," said a spokesman for a group of concerned parents. (17.10.00)


Gibraltar tax application approved by USA

An application about new withholding tax procedures on investment in US securities, made by Gibraltar, has been approved by the Internal Revenue Service of the United States.
The decision has now been taken to add Gibraltar to the list of jurisdictions whose "Know Your Customer" Rules have been approved under the IRS new regime for withholding tax on US investments.
"By obtaining this approval for its anti-money laundering procedures, Gibraltar joins a select band of jurisdictions whose financial institutions are able to apply for Qualified Intermediary status under the new US regime," said a Gibraltar government spokesman.
These new procedures will place heavy administrative and reporting requirements on banks and other intermediaries dealing in US securities.
The Gibraltar government, the bankers association and the financial services commission have worked closely over the last few months in preparing the appropriate documentation for submission to the USA.
The new tax procedures become effective next January. The list of approved jurisdictions currently numbers 22 and includes major European finance centres.
The fact that the IRS has approved Gibraltar's know-your-customer rules, after very vigorous vetting, is further proof of the quality and robustness of the anti-money laundering measures we have in Gibraltar and of the commitment in Gibraltar to maintain our jurisdiction in the leading pack of international finance centres, said Iain Currie, president of the Gibraltar bankers association. (17.10.00) 

Linares accuses Linares of double standards

Opposition member Steven Linares has accused education minister Dr Bernard Linares of double standards with regard to the release of information.
The opposition refer to a report on Special Education Needs (SEN). When asked about it in the House of Assembly last march, Dr Linares said that "the audit report on Special Education Needs is already in the public domain."
When Steven Linares asked the department for a copy he was told he would have to write a letter to the minister, which the opposition thought was odd as the minister had said the report was in the public domain.
Last month Mr Linares again asked the government about what steps had to be taken to obtain a copy. Ask and it will be given to you, came the reply from the other Linares.
Finally, the report was forthcoming - but not without a covering letter saying it was confidential and not for public consumption!
Said an opposition statement today: "The opposition regrets the fact that the government has shown double-standards with regard to the release of information." (17.10.00)

‘Very disturbing, says opposition

The events surrounding the dismissal of consultant radiologist Dr Rassa have been described as "very disturbing" by the opposition.
"It is very disturbing that in the midst of the accusations made by Dr Rassa that the Government should have terminated his contract of employment," said opposition health spokesperson Mari Montegriffo today. "But it is not enough for Dr Linares to reassure that there is nothing to worry about."
She adds: "If it is true, as he says, that he does not tolerate cover-ups then he should have nothing to fear of an independent inquiry."
The opposition adds that, meanwhile, confidence has been undermined in the health service "and the only way to restore it is by clearing this matter up to the full satisfaction of the public."
Dr Rassa complains that he has been making allegations which the health service has not addressed. He finally decided that he had had enough and put conditions for his continuing work, which the Government has seen as "a serious neglect and abandonment of your duties," as the letter terminating his contract states.
. While recognising that he has made "very serious, unsubstantiated allegations", the Government adds that this is breach of contract. "This behaviour is totally unacceptable," he was told.
However, Dr Rassa reiterates the allegations made, and in an article in PANORAMA today, refers to a letter where they were made and which, for obvious reasons, he cannot disclose in a newspaper article.
He asks Dr Linares to "open your eyes" and to listen to what is being said. Dr Rassa insists there has been "mismanagement and negligence", and he is prepared to go to a court of law to prove what he says.(16.10.00)

Press release

Open your eyes, minister!

Minister, open your eyes! Read the letters which are sent to you, listen to the people and try to understand what they are saying before making a public statement. Do not undermine your integrity by false information which is given to you by those people who have no motivation, other than their endless financial greed and thirst for power.
On 6th September 2000 I wrote to the Chief Executive, with copy to hospital consultants, general practitioners... and the Dr B Linares, Minister for Health and Education, whom I believe it is you!
Amongst several items that I advised was paragraph (c), which reads: "To organise the clinical audit in order to improve performances of the hospital doctors and provide more efficient and better services for the community. This, no doubt, will have a tremendous impact in avoiding the mistake and the mismanagement that I have pointed out to you on several occasions."
In the reply, which was signed by the Medical Director and the Chief Executive, they said that "the only point in your letter that merits an answer is the first one that you make” which is about the content of my contract.
Following your recent television interview I would like to remind you that it is the duty of every medical practitioner who is registered with the General Medical Council to report any unprofessional conduct, mental instability, drug abuse, wrong treatment etc. by another practitioner, to the Health Authority. I have done so in my letter of 7th February 2000 to the doctor who had that particular patient under his care, after verbal report to the Chief Executive for his advice, particularly in the light of the so-called 'Bristol Event' involving the cardiac surgeon, the disgraced gynaecologist, the surgeon removing the wrong kidney, Shipton's murder cases etc.
On the same subject I wrote to Mr Lima and I personally sent a copy of that letter, with my compliments, to you.
In that letter I made accusations for mismanagement, misconduct and negligence and I will prove it in the court of Law.
“As I have stated in my letter which for obvious reasons I cannot disclose in this article, if the way that patient was dealt with was not mismanagement and negligence, what is? This is not even Euthanasia, this is... I leave it up to your own judgment.
“Having worked as a Consultant radiologist in one of the most famous centres for cancer diagnosis and treatment in London for more than 20 years it is a pity that so-called.... here is not willing to take advantage of my presence in Gibraltar, and treat the patient in a way that if a patient suffers from cancer nothing can be done and that is the end of his/her life."


"Real worries" about Tireless after publication of experts report

A group of concerned parents, who have been at the centre of opposing the repairs here to HMS Tireless, say in a statement today that the first sight of the safety report produced for the Gibraltar government by a panel of nuclear experts, "exposes many real worries."
The report, they note, "has been prepared exclusively off-site without any examination of the submarine or the repair facilities."
They add: "Most of the recommendations in the report are made without any reference to the experts' decision-making machinery, which would confirm the reasoning behind the recommendations. Also, there are references to possible situations arising from the repairs, like a realisation that the damage is more extensive as is now the case, which situations are not covered by the MOD safety case."
The local safety plan, known as GibPubSafe, has not been drawn up with the Gibraltar situation in mind, as the panel admits. "This is the only documentation which is supposed to protect the civilian population and which is, in the view of emergency management experts, deeply flawed," says the group.


When will inquest be held on Tireless Sailor’s death?

A British crewman from the stricken British nuclear submarine ‘ HMS Tireless’ was found dead in Gibraltar. That was last June. To date, an inquest has not been held.
The body of the sailor was discovered outside the Caleta hotel where he was staying “ and had apparently fallen from his fifth floor balcony”, said the statement issued by the British forces in Gibraltar at the time.
A postmortem examination was carried out and the police were investigating the circumstances surrounding the death.
However, the inquest is still to take place on what is a matter of particular interest to the family of the deceased and also to the public at large, given the public interest suscitated by matters surrounding the Tireless.


Pet Crematorium petition

A petition calling for a pet crematorium has been started and signatures are being collected.
The petition reads: “ We the undersigned, propose that there should be a facility in Gibraltar for a Pet Crematorium with a Garden of Remembrance. The above facility would also serve as temporary accommodation for pets (holidays, illness etc.)”



Last weeks News Stories

Tireless repair delay fears

  There are fears that the repairs to the stricken nuclear submarine HMS Tireless could suffer further delays as neither the actual extent or location of the cracked weld is clear after initial investigations.

  It was officially stated earlier this week that films and photographs of the damaged area had been sent to Britain for further study.  The cracked weld, in the submarine's coolant system within the nuclear compartment, was originally advised as being only 2 mm, but the crack is now believed to be bigger.

  A reassessment of the repair is now on the cards, as the Ministry of defence has confirmed after days of speculation which suggested that the repair work may have to be abandoned. However, the MOD feels that the repairs will be undertaken and that they come within the safety programme.

  A safety report prepared by the Gibraltar government's nuclear consultants, on which the government's decision not to oppose the repairs was based, says: "The MOD and their civilian contractors (Rolls Royce Marine Power Ltd who designed the nuclear plant originally) have investigated the exact location and size of the leak. Their combined conclusion is that the leak is due to a small crack (2mm wide) in the weld where the relatively small pipe to the pressuriser is connected to the much larger primary circuit pipework."

  The report adds that the experts appreciated that the viability of the whole repair plan depends on the remade weld being of high quality.  In addition to the possible nuclear safety implications, the experts wanted to assess the possibility of the crack running into the will of the primary circuit pipework.  Since the MOD has nom plans in lace for dealing with this eventuality, it could cause a significant delay to the overall programme.

  The report also says that the experts have "identified a small possibility that the  MOD has misdiagnosed the location of the crack to be repaired. "This would only be apparent a few weeks into the repair, and could cause about two months delay." However, they add that there should not be "a significant safety risk." (14.10.00) 



Britain agrees Gibraltar must take part in next Euro-elections

The British Government is of the view that Gibraltar must participate in the next elections to the European Parliament in 2004.
While Britain votes in Euro-elections, Gibraltar does not, although it joined the EU with Britain in 1973. Recently a European court ruling said Britain was acting illegally in not making provisions for Gibraltar to vote.
As a result, the matter is being addressed by both Britain and Gibraltar.
Following a meeting in London this week, the Gibraltar Government said that its position was that Gibraltar must participate in the next election due in 2004 and that the territory, as well as the people, of Gibraltar must be enfranchised. "The Gibraltar government believes that this coincides with the British government's intentions," said the Chief Minister's office today.
The meeting held in London this week was with Home Office and Foreign Office officials relating to the legislative, administrative and practical matters concerning Gibraltar's enfranchisement for elections to the European Parliament. (13.10.00)


Gibraltar's UEFA bid worries Spain

The bid by the Gibraltar Football Association to join UEFA, the European football ruling body, is worrying Spanish football officials, who are opposing it.
Angel Maria Villar, president of the Spanish football federation, is not absolutely sure any more that UEFA is going to deny Gibraltar its membership.
"All I can do, is vote against," he said.
A UEFA delegation has been to Gibraltar and concluded in Gibraltar's favour. However, due to Spanish opposition, the application was not considered earlier this month, and has now been left to the next meeting in December. 
In Gibraltar it is firmly believed that all Spain is doing is mixing politics with sport. Spain claims the sovereignty of Gibraltar.(13.10.00)


State of repair of Tireless

The defect site in HMS Tireless, the stricken nuclear submarine, is now being examined to assess the exact location and extent of the small crack, the Ministry of Defence has informed the local government.
"The MOD has advised the government that the repair process has reached the state that the roll over (residual heat source elimination) trial has been successfully completed, the reactor has been depressurised and the loop drain has been completed," said a statement today.
Meanwhile, the environmental agency and a specialist UK contractor has been conducting constant monitoring of the air, soil and water and no radiological escape from the submarine is reported.
The government's panel of UK nuclear experts will shortly visit Gibraltar to inspect the waste handling facilities, visit the submarine and hold further discussions with MOD to ensure that the repair is progressing as planned. It follows the government's decision last month not to oppose the carrying out of the repairs here on the basis of its experts' report on safety considerations.
The labour/liberal opposition has meanwhile pointed out that details of the repair process, including the draining of the links of the primary circuit of the cooling system, has become knowledge in Spain before than in Gibraltar.
"The opposition consider that it is a scandal that people in Spain are being kept better informed than the people here," said a statement this afternoon.
The opposition is also critical of the long delay by the government to publish the experts report, as it had promised last month, which is only now being released.



Bar Council chairman confirms PANORAMA disclosure on resignation threat

The disclosure in PANORAMA, that the chairman of the Bar Council Robert Vasquez had threatened to resign following events concerning the Chief Justice, has been confirmed in a letter sent by him today to the media.
Mr Vasquez had wanted to make a statement at the opening of the legal year last Friday but this was not endorsed by the Bar Council. Mr Vasquez did not make a speech at the opening.
"I strongly believed that the Chairman of the Bar could and should not give his annual address at the Ceremonial Opening of the legal year without making reference to this recent controversy and other issues thrown up by it," he writes.
Mr Vasquez says that, in his address, he should highlight that "this controversy has harmed our system of justice; had caused division within the legal profession which had, has and is having adverse effects on the administration of justice" and he further states "that this damage had to be repaired and the confidence of both lawyers and the public restored; and that, at present, I could see difficulties in achieving this last mentioned objective."
At the Bar Council meeting on the eve of the opening of the legal year, the view came across that a statement on such lines would not be endorsed. Mr Vasquez saw no option but to resign, but strong representations, kept him from doing so. It was proposed, and he agreed, that he would limit himself to just formally supporting the motion for the opening of the legal year without any further comment. "I agreed to do this, having formed the view that by my licence I would be sending a strong message," he says.(11.10.00)
Letters Page


Small Business federation critical of Government services

Marielou Guerrero, who was re-elected chairman of the Gibraltar Federation of Small Businesses last night, has taken a critical view of the services provided by Government departments, described as "poor and unacceptable."
She told the meeting: "Government departments are controlled by and responsible to the elected members of the government and it is unacceptable for ministers to attempt to shirk their responsibility as has happened in the recent deplorable Post Office annual summer fiasco."
Another continuing problem, she adds, relates to summer hours. Gibraltar cannot grind to a halt each summer when the government departments close at varying times between 12.45 and 2.30pm.
She said: "Summer hours are antiquated and should no longer apply in the 21st century when adequate office facilities exist to overcome the heat factor. We have to accept that summer hours are not conducive to expanding Gibraltar plc in the international market either in the finance industry or the tourism industry...The time has come for business sense to overcome vote catching."
As regards plans to introduce statutory pensions in the private sector, the federation says that, while it is important to protect the interests of employees,"a balance must be maintained between this and the employers ability to comply while still assuring the viability of the business."
New or changed responsibilities placed on employers must be based on a realistic assessment of how well they are equipped to handle these," said Mrs Guerrero.(11.10.00)


First meeting of port advisory committee

The first meeting has taken place of the port advisory committee, chaired by the minister for tourism and transport Joe Holliday. Members are John Bassadone, John Gaggero, Paul Imossi, Mel Smith and Capt Vassilios Terzis. Ex officio members are Richrad Garcia of the transport department and Tony Davis, chief executive of the port authority.
"I decided it would be helpful to have a body of commercially experienced persons to advise me in the formulation of policy on the commercial development of the port," said Mr Holliday. (11.10.00)

Press release


GBC drops lunchtime programmes


GBC is to drop its lunchtime TV schedule. In a statement today the  Corporation says it has completed its review of the lunchtime transmission  and has come to the conclusion that as the transmission does not enjoy a significant audience the service should be suspended with effect Monday, 23rd October, 2000.

In arriving at its decision the Corporation has drawn on the date obtained through an Audience Survey conducted last July. The survey results indicated that the lunchtime television transmission only enjoys an audience of 13.6% and that the main programme transmitted on weekdays, the Telenovelas, had lost is popularity. Of those polled only 7.27% now agree with this type of programme being transmitted on GBC Television.

The arrangements planned by the Corporation allow for the current Telenovela to reach its concluding episode scheduled for Friday, 20th October, 2000.

The test transmission on Sunday afternoons of the Global Catholic Network will continue for a further period of four weeks.

 Licensing laws under review

The Government is reviewing all aspects of licensing laws, said an official statement today. A public consultation process is also underway.
The study will include laws relating to licensing procedures generally, sale of alcohol to minors, opening hours, clubs and entertainment establishments.
The review will consider whether any changes are required to modernise legislation. The sale of alcohol and tobacco to minors and the question of opening hours of bars, clubs, off licences etc are to be considered.
There have been recent complaints from bars that private clubs entertain non-members in what they see as unfair competition, as the clubs do not have to pay the kind of overheads paid by the bar trade. 
The consultative paper says that a club is a "society of persons associated together for any purpose except the acquisition of gain," This, it adds, creates a clear distinction which is the legal root which should mark the different general approach between commercial activity and non-commercial activity. (10.10.00)
Consultation Paper. 

The chief justice and his domestic maids

Following a statement by the Governor David Durie last week, about allegations concerning the domestic maids employed by the Chief Justice, the Government thinks that "the Governor's statement only states part of the facts" and has gone on to make public details of the persons concerned, their work permits, the payment or non-payment of social security contributions and of income tax.
Both domestics were Jamaican nationals.
A Government statement says: These events relating to the Chief Justice's actions in a personal capacity, the discussion of them and the decisions made in relation to them, do not touch upon any issue of judicial independence. The two matters should not be mixed up and confused. The Government will therefore not comment, at this stage, on the statements that have been made in relation to judicial independence. (10.10.00)
Statement in full.


Tireless prep work completed

Preparatory works on the stricken nuclear submarine HMS Tireless are now over, having started nearly 4 weeks ago when the Gibraltar government said it would not oppose the repairs.
The submarine has a cracked weld in the coolant system. There has been some filming, and photographs taken, of what the preparatory works have found and this have been sent to Britain for study before the repair works proper get underway. (10.10.00)

Back from Morocco to keys ceremony

The Royal Gibraltar Regiment have returned to Gibraltar in secrecy after a couple of weeks training in Morocco, the first time this has happened. It included training with the Moroccan army.
Now back on the Rock, the regiment will be performing the Ceremony of the Keys on Thursday, with the Governor taking the salute at Casemates square.
The time-honoured closing of the gates of the fortress is recalled by the ceremony. The keys will be handed to the Governor.
The band and drums of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment will provide the music.
The outpost platoon will be commanded by Second lieut Mark Chichon and the port sergeant, who symbolically closes the gates of the fortress, will be Colour Sgt Daren Davis.
Then, on Saturday, there will be a ceremonial guard mount outside the residence of the Governor, with the new and the old guards changing over. The guard commander will be Lieut Daren McComb. The band and drums of the regiment will provide the musical accompaniment. (10.10.00)

Great ball of fire!

A local angler, out fishing some 200 metres from the stricken nuclear submarine Tireless, landed a white-coloured phosphorus piece of rock which had got entangled in his fishing tackle. He put it on his boat.
On his way back to land, the rock started to change colour, turning fluorescent orange. "Just as the boat reached the pontoon it started to let off smoke, went into combustion and burst quite violently into flames," the angler told the Gibraltar Chronicle.
The angler reacted quickly and was able to kick it back into the sea to avoid a serious accident.
The fire brigade was called and took particles for analysis. The port department and fire brigade are carrying out an investigation. Divers are to search the area. (10.10.00)

Taxi Demonstration outside House



Taxi drivers staged a demonstration outside the House of Assembly today, to draw attention to their grievances against the Government’s new Transport Regulations which they see as affecting their rights. The taximen complain that the regulations empower other than the courts to determine what is lawful or not.
In a defiant mood, the demonstrators displayed banners to drive home their concerns. Many had their mouths sealed with sticky tape.
The intention was to remain outside the House throughout the day.


Top hospital consultant threatened with dismissal

Doctors back consultant radiologist as accusations fly in every direction


Dr. P M Rassa, the consultant radiologist at the Gibraltar Health Authority, has produced a list of accusations, expressing his "concern about the condition of work which has been created in this hospital". He has been threatened with dismissal.
In a deepening row at the top, Dr. Rassa has told health minister Dr. Bernard Linares: "Keeping quiet is a sign of guilt. Either terminate my contract as stated in the Chief Executive's letter or tell him to shut up and do not threaten me. Instead order him to investigate the issues that I have raised..." 


The issues, alleges Dr Rassa, concern negligence, mismanagement and misconduct.
Strong words. He adds: "Please remember the first duties of every hospital doctor is safety of innocent patients who are coming to us for saving lives..."

Dr Rassa is about halfway through his 3-year contract. In June last year, all the general practitioners at the Health Centre wrote a letter to the then minister of health expressing congratulations on Dr Rassa's appointment, saying that "this appointment has improved immensely the quality of service, as we are able to diagnose and exclude problems directly from primary care thus saving time and avoiding unnecessary or inappropriate hospital referrals, which in turn reduces the consultant workload,"
He was described as an experienced radiologist having been at a top London hospital for many years... "an ideal man to establish a modern and professional department of radiology, which is becoming more and more the forefront of modern medicine, while fully involving primary care for the benefit of all the community."

What has gone wrong? Two months ago Dr Rassa went to see Dr Galloway who was acting on behalf of the health centre doctors in the absence of Dr Fitzpatrick. The consultant radiologist was very upset and concerned about his deteriorating work environment. "It is a sad indictment of our hospital, that since his arrival in Gibraltar, after many years as a Senior Consultant Radiologist in the UK, not only has he been made to feel distinctly unwelcome but he has also been subject to a campaign of increasingly unpleasant and unfair defamation..." said a letter addressed to Dr Linares.
The minister was told that Dr Rassa has developed an excellent radiological service... We have received no complaints at all about him from our patients and have found him to be clinically very competent and helpful.
Writing on behalf of all the general practitioners, Dr Galloway said that he sincerely hoped "that something can be done to put a stop to all this nonsense before lasting damage is done."
The doctors have warned that Dr Rassa "continues to enjoy the complete confidence and support of all the GPs" . The GP section of the British Medical Association would act should that be required to protect his personal and professional reputation, Dr Linares has been told.
Whoever is right or wrong in this new crisis at the hospital, the whole issue provides further evidence that the costly health service is in an unhealthy state for more reasons than one and that unless the whole gamut of grievances are addressed urgently it is the patient who could end up suffering in the end. Problems have to be addressed properly and equitable solutions found.

Gibraltar at odds with European Human Rights

I would like to pick the issue of Human Rights. Human Rights is rather like tolerance and free speech, in that everyone is in favour of it. Yet I suggest that we should be a little cautious in Gibraltar. October the 2nd The Human Rights Act became law in England and Wales, and it is already law in Scotland. In effect The Human Rights Act provides, that wherever possible legislation must be read and given effect to in a way which is compatible with the European Convention of Human Rights.
Likewise it becomes unlawful for any public authority to act in a way which is incompatible with The European Convention of Human Rights. 
This is a very far reaching piece of legislation and has required a positive act, namely primary legislation to put it on the statute books. In Gibraltar we have our own chapter on fundamental rights and freedom, and although this is very similar to the echr it is not exactly the same and more importantly it does not import European Convention of Human Rights jurisprudence into Gibraltar. Some of that jurisprudence is at odds with the way in which we currently deal with matters.
I am concerned that it is beginning to be suggested that European conventions of Human rights jurisprudence is in some way binding in Gibraltar and it is also suggested that there may be a seminar to be held in Gibraltar on the human rights Act.
In my view this is a dangerous step to take unless and until the European convention is incorporated into domestic legislation. Such a seminar could well raise expectations amongst lawyers and clients, that they are in the same position to run the same arguments that are about to be run in the United Kingdom, and based upon the same echr jurisprudence.
There might, if I dare say it, also be some confusion caused in the courts. In effect all the dangers of something coming in by the back door, which require legislation in the United Kingdom. There is a very recent court of appeal decision which dealt with this issue. This was an extradition case which involved a bail argument.
The appellants based their arguments largely upon echr jurisprudence and in effect the submission was that when a judge is considering the exercise of a discretion echr jurisprudence bites. It was clear from the way the case was argued that the suggestion was that such jurisprudence was binding. The submission was based on the English case of Ranzen. Fortunately, two of our justices of appeal had sat in the Ranzen case.
Sir Christopher Staughton gave the leading judgment in our court of appeal and firmly said that Ramzen only applied to the particular discretion being argued in that case, and did not apply to the numerous other discretions which a judge might have to exercise.
I am not suggesting that echr jurisprudence is not very august and in some cases in advance of the common law. What I do say is that if it is to be binding in Gibraltar it must come in properly. I am not oblivious to the danger of English case law developing as a result of the European Convention of Human Rights jurisprudence and case law in Gibraltar staying in a time warp. We have an example of this in pace.


In Brief


Airport Joint Use
The La Linea council has passed a motion calling on the Spanish Government to unblock the joint use of Gibraltar’s airport.

The UN Fourth Committee has again urged Britain and Spain to find a solution over Gibraltar, ignoring the representation made by Gibraltar’s elected leaders.

European football’s ruling body UEFA has again deferred taking a decision on Gibraltar’s membership despite a UEFA reports that supports Gibraltar’s application. It is expected that the matter will now be raised at their December meeting.



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