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GIBRALTAR today

 

  'Bedenham' explosion revives calls for better disability benefits

  A spokesman for the Independent Liberal Forum said today that his party "notes with sadness" the forthcoming 50th Anniversary of the explosion of HMS Bedenham in Gibraltar.
  "In particular given Gibraltar's poor track record of social support for the disabled, the I.L.F. makes a public call to Government to clarify what (if any) assistance survivors or victims' partners receive in the form of pensions or benefits. After all the terrible consequences of the accident itself continue to this day."
  The I.L.F. spokesman went on to explain that in his party's view the matter is connected to the wider issue that Gibraltar is completely lacking in a social security system properly equipped to deal justly and fairly with the needs of the disabled in a modern democracy.
  "It's all very well Government saying after the fact that they want to introduce legislation to prevent another Tireless situation arising - but what are they doing to ensure the future security of those who are disabled or the innocent victims of accidents?" the party asks.
  To date only those who are actually born with a disability get any real support from the State. "This is a scandal in our modern day and something the I.L.F. will tackle as a priority when in Government,"they add.
  The ammunition ship Bedenham exploded whilst alongside what is now part of Queensway Quay development. (22.04.01)

World record Gibraltar stamp for Queen's birthday

  Gibraltar has set a world record in producing the fastest ever postage stamp - it records the Queen's 75th birthday.
  The Queen chose her favourite photograph for the stamp, which was collected from Buckingham Palace - and in just over 10 hours the stamp was available at Gibraltar.
  The idea was that of the Crown Agents Stamp Bureau. After approval by the Palace early yesterday morning, the artwork went to the printers and by noon the first record-breaking stamps were on their way to Gatwick to catch the place to Gibraltar.
  The stamps, with a face value of £2, were released today to mark the Queen's 75th birthday. A further 60,000 stamp sheets will be put on sale in Gibraltar.
A splendid way of saying Happy Birthday to You! (21.04.01)

 

 Who wants $20 million? Be warned!

  Who wants $20 million? Who wouldn't! But be careful if you receive such an offer on your email.
  A reader has sent us a copy of an email he has received from someone with an address @yahoo.com. It is purported to come from Jonannesburg, South Africa.
It is a plead for help to get the $20million out of the country - but it is couched in similar language which in the past have had some people burn their fingers, with similar outpourings from Nigeria.
  In the past such messages arrived by fax. Such messages all tell a similar story, how someone in the family has died or has been imprisoned or what-have-you and the money has been entrusted on him. They make you an offer if you allow the sum into your bank account. You get given a fax number for future contacts. Eventually they ask you for your bank account number and a letterheaded paper - and that's when the problem begins!
  It is known that one or two persons in Gibraltar who followed instructions in scams from Nigeria ended up all the wiser. In the UK and other countries such matters have been investigated by police. But the offers keep coming, which must seem to indicate that some people keep falling for them. So beware! (21.04.01)

Plan to legislate to stop any future nuclear repairs welcomed by group

  The Environmental Safety Group says it welcomes whole-heartedly the Chief Ministers' comments made yesterday on GBC regarding legislation to prohibit future nuclear repairs. "Considering that the safety of the repairs on Tireless has been measured throughout against the risks posed by the visiting recreational submarines, we believe that what Tireless has achieved is to highlight the risks we have been unwittingly subjected to in the past," they say. 
  The group adds: We therefore welcome the prospect of a debate on the nuclear issue in general. The Tireless saga has also demonstrated the shortfalls that exist in the safety procedures and in the emergency planning, to cater for any radiation incident, and we therefore have an obligation to continue pressing for denuclearisation of the Rock.
  The ESG, together with other groups and associations will hold a meeting with environmental groups in Spain to make a joint appraisal of the current situation with Tireless and the reactor start-up and to state a commitment to work on pressing environmental problems affecting the bay.
  "We would like to end by stating that we have always sought the technical and scientific advice from experts and we have repeatedly asked for the scientific reasoning behind the panel of experts' advice. If the Tireless repairs have been calculated to be less risky than a recreational visit then we need to know about the logic behind this argument. This has never been explained. While we do feel strongly about these issues, we have not been alarmist and have not reacted purely from an emotional stance. We have never advocated reckless or inappropriate reaction from our Government and we have sought to express clearly, prudently and emphatically our sense of outrage at the unfolding scenario with Tireless and its imposition on Gibraltar, its citizens and the thousands who live around the Bay," says their statement.
  They would hope that the Government's statement to "carefully consider" legislation to restrict nuclear issues will be the first of many such commitments to protect and provide for a safer and healthier environment for all.(20.04.01)

First girl to sign on for Miss Gibraltar contest

  Lyzanne Zammitt, a 21 year old Civil Servant, has been the first contestant to sign on for the Miss Gibraltar contest this year. 
  Lyzanne has dark blonde hair and hazel eyes. She is 1.62 metres tall and works as an Administrative Officer at the Gibraltar Government Personnel Department. 
  Her hobbies include playing hockey, athletics and keeping fit. Her ambition is to be successful in all aspects of life and to reach the goals she has set herself.
  She has entered the contest because she has always been a very sporty individual and thought it would make a nice change to do something completely different.
  Being the first contestant to sign on, further to the £400 signing on fee, Lyzanne also takes a weekend for two at the Costa del Sol that has been  sponsored by Exchange Travel. 
  Girls wishing to take part in this year's contest are invited to do so at the Gibraltar Tourist Board, Duke of Kent House during normal working hours.
  The first ten girls to sign will each receive £400.00 cash. In addition a 50cc moped will be raffled amongst all the ladies signing on the dotted line. (20.04.01)

Convicted barrister - and his 'Mickey Mouse Bank'

The case of this convicted barrister with a Gibraltar connection has previously been covered in our newspages. However, the UK Inland revenue have now issued further details about the case, as follows:

Michael Stannard, aged 51, is a barrister of the Middle Temple having been called to the Bar in 1973. Since 1978 he has been a member of the Bar in Gibraltar. He went to live in Jersey in 1974 working until 1976 with a legal firm based in Jersey. Since 1976 Stannard has worked on his own in the field of tax planning, based initially in Jersey and more recently in Hambye, Normandy, France. He also has a property in Switzerland.

In October 1997 the Inland Revenue’s Special Compliance Office executed a substantial number of search warrants, obtained under Section 20C Taxes Management Act 1970, when they raided premises as part of the largest search operation ever carried out by the Inland Revenue. The investigation extended to the Isle of Man, USA, Hong Kong, Cyprus, Liechtenstein, Republic of Ireland, France and Denmark.

Stannard purchased subsidiary companies which were part of existing UK groups and which had substantial corporation tax liabilities about to crystallise and the money available to settle the liabilities. Following his purchase of the companies, Stannard falsely claimed that the profits on which the corporation tax were potentially due were extinguished by huge advance payments of interest to a UK company set up on behalf of Stannard and administered from Liechtenstein. The fraud relied on Stannard’s creation and use of a substantial chain of offshore companies including what he called his “Mickey Mouse bank” - The Investment Bank of Europe and the United States.

Stannard stood trial with another barrister, Robert Nelson, at Southwark Crown Court. In respect of each of four company purchases Stannard and Nelson faced a charge of cheating the Inland Revenue of public revenue, namely corporation tax, by claiming a deduction against profits for interest paid including debenture interest paid in advance to Anglo Austrian Finance Ltd (the UK company administered from Liechtenstein). Both defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges and their trial began on 10 October 2000. On 25 January 2001 Nelson was acquitted but Stannard was convicted on two counts.

Before passing sentence on 9 February 2001, His Honour Judge Fingret said that each of the two offences on which Stannard had been found guilty were so serious that only custodial sentences could be justified. The judge told Stannard that “indulging in cheating the public revenue on the scale which you were found to have done involved playing for very high stakes. The profit was considerable and the punishment must reflect such gains. These offences involve the creation of a complex web of companies secretly controlled by you clearly in an attempt to shield you from detection. Those who are convicted of such offences inevitably face deterrent sentences.” The judge remarked that there were aggravating features such as the tax loss to the public purse of in excess of £2 million together with an actual profit made by Stannard of between £417,000 and £500,000; the abuse of public trust by a professional man expert in tax schemes and the sophisticated nature of the scheme.

HH Judge Fingret said that the range of sentences for large scale efforts to cheat the Revenue is between four and eight years and taking into account the aggravating features the starting point in this case was six years. The judge then took into account mitigating factors such as supporting testimonials, previous good character and the traumatic experience of serving a first prison sentence at the age of 51. Stannard was then sentenced to four and half years imprisonment on each of two counts, the sentences to be concurrent.

The Inland Revenue is seeking to have Stannard’s assets confiscated so as to recover the benefit of the fraud and this is to be considered by the Court on 10 May 2001. 

Rare whale in Gibraltar riddle

The rare sight of a young humpback whale frolicking in the sea off southern Greece raises the question: did it enter the Mediterranean via Gibraltar? Experts are wondering. 
The endangered humpbacks are normally found in the open ocean, say reports. There have been only a few reports of them passing through the Strait of Gibraltar to enter the Mediterranean Sea. 
The wayward wanderer, measuring about 35 feet, is within eye-shot of observers in the area to ensure it is not in danger from vessels. 
"The whale probably entered the Mediterranean while following fish it was feeding on during its annual migration," said a Greek scientist. 
It is expected the whale, which may not be alone, will eventually initiate its return journey, heading west toward the Atlantic, through the Mediterranean - and via Gibraltar. 

'Tireless' will not happen again, says chief minister

Repairs to a nuclear-powered submarine, as in the case of HMS Tireless, will not happen again, said Gibraltar's chief minister Peter Caruana.

  Tireless has been successfully repaired and now awaits its restart, before leaving Gibraltar for the UK after a one-year saga.

  Mr Caruana said he would be giving careful consideration to introducing legislation to avoid a repeat performance, he told local radio.

  The Ministry of Defence and the British Government "fully understand that the days when the MOD did in Gibraltar as they pleased in the name of defence are gone forever," he said.

  The role of a Gibraltar government is to ensure that the civilian population is not put to undue risk. It was clear that if the government's nuclear panel had advised of any risk, the work would have been opposed by the local government.

  Tireless limped into Gibraltar in May last year after developing a leak in its coolant compartment. (19.04.01) 

Budget session begins at end of this month

  The House of Assembly will be holding its next meeting at the end of this month. It will be the fifth meeting of the first session of the ninth House of Assembly.  The meeting will signal the start of the Budget session, with the Financial and Development Secretary laying on the table the draft estimates for revenue and expenditure.

  Hundreds of questions are expected from the opposition. The last meeting was on 12 February.

  The government will lay a number of documents on the table, such as the airtraffic, tourist and hotel occupancy reports.

  There are two bills to go through all their stages - the Criminal Procedure Ordinance and an amendment to the Gibraltar Heritage Trust Ordinance. (19.04.01)

UK safety certificate for dolphins cruise

The first dolphin tour boat in Gibraltar to have in place a current UK safety certificate is the Nautilus IV, the company said today.

  It has successfully completed its MCA Class VI certification and, as a result, it has had its passenger licence extended by the Gibraltar port department to carry up to 49 passengers, increased from the previous twelve.

  Tony Watkins says that "the directors are delighted to have met the very stringent requirements of the MCA and are grateful to all individuals and local companies that have assisted and supported them since the vessel's arrival in Gibraltar 6 months ago." (19.04.01) 

Scandal of the authorities prying into private bank accounts

PANORAMA has acquired hitherto unpublished Foreign Office documents that indicate, for the first time in black and white, that the Foreign Office and police pry into the bank accounts of private persons.
This scandalous revelation shows to what extent civil liberties and the privacy of individuals may have been made a mockery of.
A Gibraltar-based Foreign Office official, reporting to his superiors in London, with copy to the embassy in Madrid and to the military, stated in a document dated 8 April 1970 that "a delicate and reliable source" had told the then head of Special Branch about the state of the London, Gibraltar and Madrid bank accounts of J J Triay and J E Triay, who were part of the Doves, a political group who had advocated an agreement with Spain.
While it might be considered acceptable for police to seek information, if fully justified, about bank accounts regarding serious criminal matters, the case concerning the Triays is very different as what they had done was to have a political view. The interest of the authorities in bank accounts was for political reasons.
Not only that, but it was reported that a Triay-managed nominee company called Colonial Trustees (Gib) Ltd had transferred £24,000 to a Hong Kong stockbroker, "who sent a draft for this amount in US dollars".
In other documents the authorities reveal their knowledge of the actual state of the bank account of the then Integration With Britain Party, to the last penny.
And it has also been revealed that when a Governor appointed a person regarded as a non-entity to a committee it was thought this was because the said person held a certain position in a bank, and the authorities thought that was useful.
Such extraordinary state of affairs shows to what extent those in authority are able to do virtually what they like, for whatever reasons they like.
In intelligence terminology phrases like "reliable sources" are used to hide a multitude of sins.
How do they find out about bank accounts? Do the banks make such information available? On what grounds and for what reasons is such private information made available? Are banks acting within the realms of strict banking practice if they reveal such details for political and other non-criminal reasons? Is the private mail addressed to individuals from a known bank source tampered with to check the contents? Are private conversations tapped or otherwise interfered with? Or is it that the authorities have spies within banks or elsewhere who collect and transmit sensitive, private information?
The fact of the matter is that this is the first time that black and white written evidence about the shady world of intelligence work has come to light. And many people will be shocked.

House of Commons back Gibraltar against weak Foreign Office

In a landmark report on Gibraltar, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Commons has accused the Foreign Office of being weak with Spain over Gibraltar. It has told the British Government that it expects it "above all, to uphold the rights of Gibraltar and Gibraltarians under the EU Treaties with the same determination and rigour as it would in any part of the 
United Kingdom." The Committee is all-party, with representation from Labour, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.


TOUGH TIME
There can be no doubt that the fact that there is a committee of MPs taking on the role of a watchdog over Gibraltar is making life uncomfortable for officials and Ministers at the Foreign Office. In a recent appearance before it the UK Minister responsible for Gibraltar Keith Vaz was given a tough time, even by members of his own party. It is human nature that once politicians realise that it is they who will take the political flack for the actions and suggestions of civil servants, they are likely to be more careful in the future.
In a clear warning to Minister Keith Vaz, the Labour MP Donald Anderson, who chairs the Commitee said that "the message is very clear, there is total consensus in this Committee that the policy of Spain in respect of Gibraltar, the border, the telephones, is wholly intolerable and unacceptable. There is, equally a consensus on the Committee that the policy both of the previous administration and of this Government has not been robust enough, in respect of Spain." Mr Anderson added that he was confident that, following the UK elections, a future Committee "will be ready to harry you, or your successor, in that respect."


TAKE SPAIN TO COURT
There are two areas where the Committee recommends that London takes legal action against Madrid. This is over the question of border delays and telecommunications. The Committee noted in the text of the report that the mechanism to record the length of delays on the part of the Foreign Office and on the part of the GIbraltar Government were different, and recommended one unified system to be used.
The House of Commons Committee considered it unacceptable that the question of telephone numbers remained unresolved five years after a complaint was made to the European Commission in 1996. "We recommend that the Government take a far firmer line with both the Spanish Government and the EU Commission on this issue." The Foreign Office has been asked to examine the scope for taking Spain to the European Court of Justice over this.


EUROVOTE
On the question of the eurovote, the Foreign Office have now been asked to detail how it intends to ensure that the people of Gibraltar can vote in Gibraltar in the 2004 European elections.
The report, which is very supportive of Gibraltar generally, shows that in areas where there is unity and where Gibraltar lobbies and speaks with one voice there is much that can be achieved.

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