Wednesday, 26 January 2011

The Financial Services Commission, the Constitution, Political Independence and my Resignation.

Everyone by now knows that on the 18th January I resigned my membership of the Financial Services Commission (FSC).   The primary reason is that I wanted to be free to continue writing and moderating this blog unhindered.  I was not prepared to give up writing and moderating it.  I believe that there are few enough "free" voices in Gibraltar already to have one silenced by circumstances;  especially one that is willing to use this modern medium of the internet to enter the fray of politics and allow others to have a say.

At the beginning of the second week of December 2009 a consultation was started to develop a policy on political participation and public political comment by members of the FSC.  Presently, there are no terms or conditions or any existing policy binding members of the FSC to restrict political involvement by them.  Consequently, the constitutional rights of any member of the Commission to be so involved are not constrained.  There exist no constraints, either under the terms of their appointment or any binding policy, on the constitutional right of any member of the FSC to write and moderate a blog.

Historically this is evidenced by various factors.  Shortly  after my appointment, I was involved in the highly controversial and public "NO" Campaign in the Referendum on the 2006 Constitution (as Chairman of the campaign), without objection from the FSC before, during or after.  I have also frequently written letters and opinion pieces in the Chronic, again with no objection from the FSC before, during or after.  In fact after this involvement in politics I was reappointed (by the Chief Minister) as a member of the FSC for a further 3 years.  Nigel Feetham was and is a member of the GSD Executive with no objection from the FSC before or during.  Shortly after his appointment, he was joint election agent of the GSD, again with no objection from the FSC before, during or after.  The reality is that none of this was undermining the work of the board of the FSC.

All these examples are indicative that the political leanings of any individual member of the FSC was not seen as adverse in any way, inclusive of affecting the FSC's ability to be politically independent.  I agree with this.  I believe that the political independence of the FSC is ensured by diversity of opinion and its overall membership, not by the political activities of any single individual membership.  Finding adequate and appropriate members of the FSC in Gibraltar may become rather more difficult in future.  I believe that the FSC has been functioning well and independently throughout this time.  This attempt to be holier than thou has opened an unnecessary can of worms.  It is disturbing and disrupting something that was working well and should have been left untouched.

I am of the opinion that no terms and conditions or policy restricting involvement in politics can be imposed on members of the FSC (or anyone) unless encompassed in a law or authorised by law.  Such prohibitions, in any event, have to fall within the permissive provisions of the Constitution.  Any restrictions, additionally, have to meet the subjective criteria that they must be reasonably justifiable in a democracy.  If these requirements are not met, any such terms and conditions or policy would breach the constitutional rights of individuals (including part time members of the FSC) to freedom of speech and to freedom of association and assembly.

Why then did I resign?

Despite the protections afforded by the Constitution, it became clear to me that that the overwhelming majority of the members of the FSC favour the introduction of a policy restricting the political involvement of FSC members.  It is within their right to favour such a policy but not to impose it without agreement.  I could not agree to my political freedoms of expression, association and assembly being curtailed retrospectively.  I doubt whether I would have agreed to my initial appointment as a member of the FSC if such terms and conditions or policy had existed at the time.

These events left me with a choice, either to both disharmoniously continue as a member of the FSC and potentially face a very public battle in and out of court to defend my constitutional rights or to resign.  I chose to resign.  I made this difficult choice primarily because I believe that that I may have harmed the finance centre and consequently Gibraltar if, for purely selfish reasons, I had chosen to the alternative course of litigating the constitutional position.

The FSC have said that the policy is not unduly restrictive.  This is a matter of degree and so of opinion.  The guiding principle for such a policy is stated by the FSC to be political independence.  It is a contradiction to say that this principle will be achieved by a policy that is not unduly restrictive.  If that be the case the reigning circumstances should have remained untouched as is my view.

Further, however not unduly restrictive the policy may be in the end, it would still be restrictive to some degree of my freedoms.  It would also introduce subjective considerations the effect of which would be to render the FSC the political editors or arbiters of this blog or indeed the political activities of all its members.  I would suggest that this may be the reason why in the other jurisdictions referred to be the FSC the prohibition is absolute and objectively certain.  For the reasons explained earlier, I do not consider that this was or is necessary in Gibraltar.  the Board of the FSC was functioning perfectly well and was in all practical regards politically independent already.

My letter of resignation (redacted for reasons of confidentiality) can be found on



  1. What can one say?


    I take my hat off to you.

  2. Robert, it takes someone like you to stick by your principals even if it means undermining your position. Not many people would do what you have done, and not because you can afford it, (which probably you can)but because they simply do not have your principals, they prefer to ignore facts and apease..... Mandito dinero......
    Ave si la gente se da cuenta que no Cuesta tan to ser fiel a sus principios.....

  3. Someone in this day and age who is prepared to stick by their convictions as you have done here is a rare thing.

    Llanito World is one of a kind, a forum in Gibraltar in which political discourse can be had between those from all walks of life, without social standing and prestige or notoriety necessarily having to come into play.

    Moderating it in even some small way as a result of your FSC troubles, or having to stop running the blog entirely would have been a great shame.

    I, and many others with whom I have spoken to about this matter, greatly respect and support you and your decision.

  4. A single, simple question Robert.

    If, as is likely, the FSC proceed with their intention to introduce regulations on political participation by Commission members, will Nigel Feetham be asked to resign his position on the Commission, or alternatively his position in the GSD executive, and will he be asked to in future refrain from acting as an electoral agent for candidates in that Party?

    Or is it that the FSC, influenced by goodness knows who or what, only considers political participation to be undesirable when that participation occurs in opposition to, or at least in occasional criticism of, the Party currently in government?

    One to ponder, my friend.

    Or is it that the FSC, influenced by who

  5. Has the CM got anything to do with this?

  6. Llanita from Gibraltar says...

    In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, 'A 'No' uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a 'Yes' merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.'

    You do yourself proud, Robert, I too take my hat off to you.

  7. It is always encouraging to see a person take a principled position on an important issue. Respect to you Robert!
    This sorry episode has moreover caused me to ponder on the composition of the Financial Services Commission and I am slightly troubled to recall that employees of entities licensed by the FSC and advisers who assist clients with making applications for licenses should be members of our Regulator in Gibraltar. There is no doubting the quality of all past and present members of the Commission and I note that you have said elsewhere that all members dutifully excuse themselves when a situation of direct conflict of interests arises but it still seems to me that membership by active licensees and advisers creates a potential for unfair commercial advantage to members and their employers and firms and thereby casts a potential shadow over the integrity of a body that is so important to our economy. Without wishing to undermine the importance of financial regulation I think all will agree that it is not exactly "rocket science" and there are many lawyers and accountants, and retired bankers, insurance executives etc who are not directly involved in the industry who could be appointed to the Commission. If this is not possible then the periods of service of members should be reduced since it seems to me that many of the members who are also in relevant private business have been in post for far too long.

  8. Would resignation by Nigel from the executive of the GSD and an undertaking to refrain from being an election agent expunge history? Political independence is about perception as well as fact.

  9. I agree with the FSC’s new stance to a certain degree. Board members should be completely impartial from a political point of view (as impossible as that may seem). Robert though is not politically active as one would say, he is merely using his god given right to express himself. He is not a member of any political party or at least not any that I know of. Therefore the attempt to muzzle his opinions could be taken up in court. It is a direct breach of article Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states the following “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers." Though I am sure Robert is already aware of this. : ) What I don't understand though is the SUDDEN need to implement such legislation. K
    By Kaelan Joyce

  10. Do we live in a society in which we can really say what we want? can one go through life telling everyone exactly how they feel?

    is there really such a thing as freedom of speech?

    we all look and hear at the stories about how there is no freedom in "third world countries" and we voice our shock... but we never really stop to think about our freedom, or lack of it!

    look at the wikileaks example, they only exposed facts and official documents and are being persecuted by the US government for it. so much for the land of the free!!

  11. The opposition is bashed for the obvious lack of political integrity, depth, awareness and more importantly backtracking that they do for their own political convenience. If Peter Caruana is right wing given his relationship and dealings with unions of late and considering employment numbers in Gib together with the volume of council housing, low taxes for all, pensions etc, then one can only assume that Bossano fell of the edge of the right winged cliff a long time ago. K your interpretation of substance is amusing at best and ill concieved at worst. I thought you were making some noises fur the positive. Fab is back I see.

  12. Anon 16:57

    I call them as I see them. Whether it is to your liking or not is irrelevant. :)


    The USA is not a good example as it has always been (in my opinion) a nationalist state with various dictators at it's helm. Their so called democracy is a farce! You only need to see the way they “bully” other countries around and take note of their financially motivated wars to realise this.

    What where you trying to get at anyways? I didn’t quite get the gist of your statements, please feel free to elaborate. :)


  13. Robert,

    This controversy might have been artificially engineered by you to draw media attention to your blog - and the top of some political party or other's (preferably one with a penchant for martyrs)candidate list.

    Evidence of it? Simple enough. You keep talking about the new proposed FSC guidelines but never actually reveal what they are!

    Hound Dog

  14. To anon 16:57 Typical response. But you have answered your own question on Ideology. So what ideology does the GSD stand for? According to your own explanation NONE. It is obvious that you missed the point. Shallow answer, when you have to resort to using adjectives such as integrity, depth, awareness, and so on! The reality is that there is no answer to the GSD mix&match of people and mentioning the relationship and dealing with union of late by Peter Caruana is the most clear example of how the union leaderships is letting its members down as has been shown by the likes of the workers at the Port, customs, fire brigade, Patio chico and the latest the Moroccan Workers. Well done for exposing this! As to considering employment numbers in Gib Yes, but for who? the over 7000 legal frontier workers and all the other who are here illegally. Low taxes for all Yes, including those who do not live in Gibraltar and take the money elsewhere, but high and unrelable now utilities for those who live in Gibraltar and sustain our high street. Pension?? do you mean the community care that is not funded as before? Ask the civil servants if they are happy about the provident fund, etc? I would now appreciate a sensible debate not shallow politics con hasheo y to!! As to the subject at hand which is being consciously being ignore by you anon 16:57 Robert, as I said in the previous comments, there seems to be a concerted effort by the powers at be (who ever they may be ???) to make life difficult for people to speak up and therefore well done on your stance.

  15. Hound Dog

    How? The facts belie that conspiracy theory. I cannot for very obvious reasons publish the policy proposals.

    Do you realyy think I would give up a paying appointment for thwe reason you suggest? Please don't be silly!

  16. Anon 17:41

    Artificially engineered controversy? I think not. Are you really that naïve? lololol

    I believe Robert is biding his time.

    Hint hint- I suggest you read his resignation letter.


  17. Ka and Fab are back people and apparently everything that they don't like is dismissed as irrelevant. There's also new insight on what Robert is going to do and they've been reading between the lines on a move by Robert into politics apparently. Genius, considering that Robert maintains he is of no party at all or is he? Naive indeed K.

  18. Ka and Fab are back people and apparently everything that they don't like is dismissed as irrelevant. There's also new insight on what Robert is going to do and they've been reading between the lines on a move by Robert into politics apparently. Genius, considering that Robert maintains he is of no party at all or is he? Naive indeed K.

  19. Firstly let me stress that I believe that we should be proud of our FSC, it operates well and effectively. Its CEO is, in my view, an exemplary regulator.

    However, this situation is outrageous - to try and restrict Robert in such a manner would undoubtedly constitute a breach of his right to free expression. I greatly admire his stance and the situation saddens me.

    One cannot criticise the FSC for continually striving for betterment. Surely though, if it is genuinely concerned to be perceived as "politically independent", the starting point should have been to ensure and demonstrate that it is truly independent from the Gibraltar Government. This is an image that the English FSA portray on their website. The FSA say that they are "independent" from the UK Government, are not funded by government, are accountable to Treasury and through them to Government, etc. Despite this, one only has to read the UK press to see claims that they are "leant on" by Government and may not be as independent as they claim.

    In Gibraltar it is more difficult to demonstrate independence simply because of the size of our community. As Robert has said, the CM appoints the FSC members. The Financial Services Commission Act confers other powers on the CM.

    Are we sure that the FSC is as independet as possible from GoG? Perhaps the FSC should regularly report publicly on anything GoG or the CM does to inflence or persuade them on any given matter. If that were done, the FSC could properly claim that it is independent from government.

    If and when that is done, then by all means look at policies for its members, but only implement such policies as are legal and do not restrict the constitutional rights of anyone!

  20. I think it is worth clarifying two matters:

    1. In its press release the FSC say "The other members of the [FSC] do not share Mr Vasquez's view that the draft policy imposes undue restrictions..." I have not expressed that view anywhere. I have expressed the view that I was not prepared to accept any restriction that rendered me susceptible to breaching it on a subjective application of the policy.

    2. On my GBC TV interview I was asked that the FSC had said that I could carry on writing the blog. I have re-read the press release and nowhere does it make this statement. I know not where or when they have said this. My reply to the question stands in any event, should this have been said by the FSC.

  21. Exaemplary CEO?I wouldn't go that far! He does contribute to our economy though, in a big way! But given the reforms and this new approach that the FSC is considering, should there not be consideration on the length of the term that a council and or its members should be allowed to hold their position? It seems to me that the FSC have been doing some marketing of late and one cannot help but ask why. We don't need to look too far back on what some might argue are questionable decisions and bad calls and which may have put our centre under scrutiny.

  22. FSC CEO has given a sobering version of events on GBC.

  23. Anon 17:53. Are you seriously suggesting that PRC's dealings with the unions, post office workers, GHA contracts, etc are a detrement to us all ? the fact that community care payments are not coming from the same account is evidence that we have rim out if money and therefore conning the electorate ? That because there are thousands of non local workers our local worforce suffers as a consequence? This propaganda is in itself the reason why the GSLP are not credible and cannot be taken seriously, after 15 years of political scaremongering, unrealistic electoral goodies, and the same leadership of which there seems no end, we are non the wiser as to what real progress Gib might enjoy with an opposition that can gain the trust of the community and really hold Govt to account in the way democracy intends it. 15 years of the same leadership with absolutely no direction and sane old same old.

  24. Anon 21:46

    15 years, scaremonging, same leadership bla bla bla.........bla bla....bla bla BORING!!!

    Back up your statements with some substance anda. Instead of once again resorting to attacking the opposition relentlessly and aimlessly.

    Y yo no soy del GSLP eh!! Pero this is getting silly now LOL


  25. Wow Kafab! It seems that my comments do indeed provide some substance. It obviously doesn't quite agree with your apparent and so called apolitical appetite. Tu no eres del GSLP? Si vale, y Robert es Batman..:)

  26. Olé, Robert! Let me please congratulate you on the integrity lesson that you´ve led and for which you have earned my deepest respect.

  27. Robert, Well done for sticking to your principles, few people do this nowadays.

    When the 'unbiased' GBC interviewer asked you whether your cousin PRC had anything to do with the FSC's proposed new guidelines re political comments etc, you hesitated in your reply. Should we read anything into this?

  28. Will he stay or will he go? Nigel's position as a member of the FSC has now become untenable. The controversy will rage on until he resigns, as surely he must.

  29. Whilst I agree in principle with your decision to resign, I disagree with your assessment of the outcomes of challenging your predicament in a court of law Robert.

    I believe that standing up to the oppression you faced be it at the discretion of the FSC or indeed PRC would have reaped rewards for the greater Gibraltarian community. The stifling of ones voice by anyone is in my opinion the gravest of offences that can be held in a democracy, especially more so if the individual expresses a non-partisan view.

    I do not believe that a GSD Government would adopt infringing on an individuals freedom to express their opinion as policy but I do not put it past certain elements of the GSD, GSLP or PDP to adopt this as an unwritten rule.

    Gibraltar has always enjoyed a charged electorate that is politically active. Voter turnout has been historically good when compared to other democracies. Therefore any body that tries to infringe on the liberties the people enjoy should be held to account.

    As I understand it from your resignation letter there is already a clause within the FSC that allows certain members to be removed from office by the CM (I mean really, the CM again and not an independent commission?). Therefore if an individuals political leanings were perceived to be causing REAL damage to the FSC then such individual could be removed from the post (I'm pretty sure it's not that simple, but it is the spirit of the clause I suppose) without having to resort to any new rules.

    I agree with soothsayer. Mr. Feetham will be the deciding factor in this equation. I mean you can't get more politically involved than being a member of the executive can you?


  30. Anon 23:15

    Even though I do not wish to deviate from the topic at hand I will tell you....

    (1)OF COURSE the influx of thousands of non local workers will affect our local workers and their generations thereafter! Assuming this will not be so is preposterous. The CM needs to sorth this out and QUICK!
    I understand the need to attract individuals with specific and specialised skill sets to Gibraltar, but I think we can all agree most of the vacancies available can be done by locals. Why SUCH a need for foreign labour? Please note I am well aware of EU law and I am NOT advocating a NO foreigner policy or restrictions on the amount of NON locals that should be employed. It is the other way round and there is a BIG difference (my set quota theory has been previously explained).
    After all this is OUR land and OUR people should be given preferential treatment. Or should they not?
    Far to many unemployed educated individuals (education which the Government has paid for) have crossed my path for me to take such matters lightly. The other day I was delivered a pizza by a qualified physio. Incidentally I am aware of 2 non-local physios, which get their accomodation paid for and their tax reimbursed. One is from Spain the other from UK. Not that their nationalities should be an issue but I am just saying. After all the Government was put there BY the people FOR the people and should look out for THEIR best interests. Or so I personally believe.

    (2) I am not part of the GSLP/Lib network. You mistake my disdain for your unsubstantiated posts for staunch opposition support.
    What I am is a TRUE PATRIOT! I speak and write from my heart and not my pocket. Unlike others......


  31. Kaelan what im getting at is that since birth we are spoon fed this notion that we live in a fre, democratic western world with freedom of speech etc.

    So much so that we all believe it...but it is not the case, we do not live in a society where we can all say what we think, where we can all stand by our convictions, where if you dont agree with Peter you can stand up and say so.

    do not be blinded by the slogan people, thats my point.

  32. Anon 21:46 If I have mentioned it it is obviously serious and by the way I am not the spokes person for the GSLP. The problem is that people like you have a knack off questioning peoples integrity, depth, awarenessof facts that are happening in my Gibraltar. It could well be that you live somewhere else (I am not insinuating Sotogrande or any place in Spain before you bite my Head off!)and not realising what is actually happen here. By the way I have stated things to rebut your arguments and your answer aigain in typical fashion is to say are you serious, it propaganda and attack the GSLP without any reason for doing so.
    It would be sensible and mature to rebut my arguments using facts and figures.Not PROPAGANDA which I can accuse you of which is from the GSD.

    It is not the first time that I have exposed weeknesses of the opposition but have not seen this happen from your ranks. It is not that the GSD is perfect but that people can be so blinded that they cannot see anything wrong even if they have completely mishandled things such as the theatre royal.

  33. Anon 12:45. I live in Gibraltar and I do not believe that perfection exists in any form including the GSD. What I do believe is that at present we seem to be bashing a Govt which has and continues to make Gibraltar a better place year on year and an opposition whom in my view have done nothing in their democratic performance and in the interests of Gibralatar. I will not repeat the many examples that I have outlined previously as they seem to go on fldeal ears, but they are nonetheless real factual examples of the deficit we have experienced in the form of an opposition over 15 years. My point in short is that the theatre royal is hardly justification for ousting this Govt in exchange for the GSLP and that the continuous failings and back tracking not to mention leadership of the opposition speaks volumes about what we might be up for if we chose to vote for change to a party who offers no change, shows no confidence, let alone any aspiration. But you are right the theatre royal was a mistake

  34. Maravilla

    I thank you for finding the time to clarify your postings.

    Your assessment though is completely out of context. How are going to compare WAR CRIMES (which is what wiki leaks uncovered) to what is happening in Gibraltar? I am sorry I know you mean well but you seem to be misperceiving what is actually meant by the wording "Democratic deficit" (as related to on LLW). Furthermore the wiki leaks people are not even American themselves hence the USA Government getting REALLY ticked off.

    Anon 18:41/54

    Did not see your posts...

    I guess time will tell if I am right or not :)


  35. I have to say I don`t always agree with Kaelan`s expressed views but I do, to a degree agree with his opinion on the situation with returning qualified Uni students unable to find employment in their respective fields only to find that non locals are being employed, with, so it would seem, perks to go with it.
    I appreciate that there are EU obligations on the matter, but given our very peculiar and unique circumstances it seems that our youngsters are at a greater disadvantage than their counterparts elsewhere when it comes to employment in their chosen fields. After all it`s not like the physio guy can apply to the various hospitals that we have ... when we only have the one hospital it ?

  36. Kaelan

    With regards to the non-local Physiotherapists I'm afraid it's as much the same as in many other departments in both the public and private sector.

    Specialist skills require specialist training. It's more cost effective to bring an individual with a particular skill set that can bring something new to the team and to the way it functions than it is to pay for the entire team to go abroad and gain the same skill sets. The same goes for bringing specialist tuition to Gibraltar. In the long run it's more effective to use and abuse individuals from foreign markets that bring new skills, and links to the UK or elsewhere for 1 year than it is to have a full complement of locals that stagnate in their professional lives. Unsavoury as it is it makes sense.

    I would also point out that there are another 8 Physiotherapists who are local (or have lived here long enough to be considered local!) that do exemplary jobs on a day to day basis.

    Should a Refuse Technician (Basurero) be a foreigner? No, I agree with your stance. Should a specialist be a foreigner? I'm afraid it depends. However I would never advocate them to be permanent and pensionable.

    Sorry for deviating off topic!


  37. Why does every single Blog hadve to end up with the usual GSD GSLP malarkey!

    for gods sake people lets discuss other issues, maravilla raises an interesting point re whether there is freedom of speech etc or not? why dont we discuss that instead of going back to the same old boring stuff!

    what do you think LW??

  38. Anonymous at 15:35

    I fully agree with you but with one caveat. I publish that stuff becuase it SOOOO illustrates my position on electoral reform and democratic deficit. We have been made TRIBAL! I hate it but our politicians have to change it. I could take the view that I will not publish that type of comment but to my constant concern this is where politicians have taken Gibraltar. You know what its time we got rid of ALL of them!

  39. Robert I am really sorry for going off on “one” once again but....LOL


    I sense we are somewhat on the same page.

    What I was trying to get at was the following:

    (1)Unlike many will have you believe THERE ARE "specialised" locals in Gibraltar with these skills you care to mention.
    (2)I find the term “cost efficient” in the context in which you have used it to be very ironic. As these aforementioned locals have been trained and educated at the tax payer’s expense via Government funding. Therefore what seems NON cost efficient to me is having these qualified individuals delivering pizzas or on the dole. Simply because their prospective vacancies have been filled up by cheap/cheaper “foreign” labor. To which I will add, did you know applicants from abroad are offered perks such as reimbursing of tax, free accommodation etc?
    (3)Furthermore you imply (rather selfishly) that by employing foreign labor we “save” on costs. Don’t you realise that what is cheap now will cost us dearly later? We MUST (not should but must) continue to invest in our future generations. You reap what you sow! By doing so we ensure OUR money stays in OUR Gibraltar.
    (4)I shall concede though that here is a need for foreign labor especially in the private sector, for the reasons ‘F’ has listed above and more. When the ONLY option is such then so be it. After all we are a multicultural society and Gibraltarians are well known for their tolerance and ability to live in harmony regardless of race, religion etc. BUT lets us acknowledge at the same time that Gibraltar is first and foremost for the Gibraltarians.

    Finally, I perceive many of the anon's posting on LLW to be out of touch with the Gibraltar of today. Most of the people I know have degrees or other equivalent qualifications. In my opinion a REALITY CHECK is in order. The youth of today is motivated and career minded and eagerly awaits the chance to prove so. Ya no es como ante!!

    Why do you keep looking so far for what is standing right in front of you?????? :(


  40. Question: could the FSC CEO be nominated by the elected Gov and Gibraltarian ? If so it's time we did so.....

  41. If we could have un llanito de CEO we should do so... A hora una persona que no se case con nadir

  42. The present CEO got the job after being interviewed in London when it was advertised in the FT in 2003 or thereabouts, when Keith Azopardi was still Minister with responsibility for financial services. In theory I suppose a Gibraltarian could have applied but am not aware that any did. Next time round there could well be a Gibraltarian applicant, who knows - but is there anyone independent enough to take up the position?

  43. Cyril

    We have a Gibraltar Chief Justice and Puisne Judge each preceded by Judge Alcantara and Judge Pizzarello, all of whom were and are independent. Why not a FSC CEO?

  44. La Martirio: Take a reality check.In my respectful opinion in any small place like Gib should not have local people making judicial decisions or in supervisory capacities. What I find shocking is that nobody seems to state the obvious. Robert I understand if you prefer not to print this - you might prefer to keep to your now well known comfort zone (cada loco con su tema) but if you do not publish this you do democracy no favours.

  45. La Martirio

    Why wouldn't I publish this comment? It is a valid opinion that I imagine other people share.

    I am not sure that I understand your comment about my being in my "now well known comfort zone" am I?

  46. Their are very capable people that could be the FSC CEO,irrespective of wether they are Gibraltarian or not.... The issue here is that the board of the FSC have tried to limit freedom of speech..shame on the board..sobre todo the llanitos that sit on the board.

  47. K:

    I do feel that we agree in certain respects to what is in Gibraltar's interests with regards to foreign labour. I believe that my approach is somewhat more pragmatic than yours but the spirit of the message remains the same. I would like to take this issue up with you at a later stage in the right context, since I plan to stick by my guns!

    Cyril and Martirio: Being a foreigner by no means is a guarantee of impartiality. Actually Martirio it takes a fair amount of gall to suggest that Gibraltarians cannot take matters into their own hands.

  48. La Marti: F completely misses the point which is not that Gibraltarians cannot be trusted to sit as judges but that in a town of 30.000 anywhere in the world impartiality and the impression of impartiality cannot be given if the person who sits in judgement is a local person who knows of most people who come before him and so has an impression of the litigants even before a trial has commenced. He will also have crossed swords with or worked with the lawyers appearing in front of him and also has inevitable pre-conceptions of them! We should have visiting judges and Gibraltarian lawyers who want to be judges can try it in UK, if they are good enough they will get the jobs. Another point that arises is if judges in UK are chosen from 1.000s of candidates why should we be satisfied with choosing from the 2 or 3 Gibraltarians who apply when a vacancy arises. Surely this does not guarantee quality and as a proud Gibraltarian I do not see why Gibraltarian justice should not have the quality controls applicable in the UK. Are we 2nd rate citizens? I do agree with F that being a foreigner is not a guarantee of impartiality and that is why the contracts of judges, the attorney general, the CEO of FSC etc should be for 3 years only and not renewable. Let us get rid of our colonial chip on our collective shoulder and start seeing things for what they are. As for me I do not trust the current judicial system or the regulatory framework but am confident that as minister of justice Danny Feetham will be working to bring us into the 20th century at at some point soon even the 21st century.

  49. La Marti's demolition job on our complacent institutions made me think that Llanito World is becoming the equivalent in Gibraltar of the winds of change that are sweeping through the arab world. LW has effectively replaced the media as one of Gibraltar's pillars of democracy. I know that some people mock Robert but I think that it is only the profoundly unintelligent who do not appreciate the impact of LW on our society. Things will never be the same after LLW.

  50. La Marti:

    FSC CEO contract is for 3 years. Short term contracts for judges are not acceptable as they undermine independence on the basis that the desire to renew may affect the perception of independence.

    There will always be mockers ... that is fine ... they too are entitled to their view.

  51. The poster previously known as La Martirio: Having read with deep emotion Robert's words: "There will always be mockers ... that is fine ... they too are entitled to their view". I hereby renounce the names La Marti and La Martirio and bequeath them to the exclusive use of Mr. Robert M. Vasquez. I also recommend that he visits Gaches for a new prescription since he seems to have missed the words "not renewable" in my earlier post. ;)

  52. Anonymous at 10:54

    If not renewable such appointments would lack answerability and so be susceptible to abuse.

    I am not martyr, anyone who mocks me is so obviously motivated by jealousy and so so wrong! But they are entitled to that view ... if i find them they are dead! :)

  53. PPKLM: Answerabilty in short term contracts can be assured via end of contract bonuses - at present it seems to me that too many expat short contract officials might be too concerened to ensure their contracts are renewed. Thus if during the tenure of a FSC CEO there were to be a scandal involving lax supervision the poor CEO would have to fly back to blighty minus his bonus etc

  54. Anon 14:17

    Did not see your post - Thanks :)

    La Marti.

    This is NOT UK this is GIBRALTAR. It is what it is.

    Our legislation and practices have been moulded (laws even altered) to deal with our own unique situation. Same should apply for everything, not only for that which you see fit or is convenient.

    Your lack of faith in OUR people concerns me.

    I do wonder who you are....

  55. Anon

    "Perhaps the FSC should regularly report publicly on anything GoG or the CM does to inflence or persuade them on any given matter." Pigs might fly - not that I disagree with the CM exercising a modicum of power or control over the FSC. You need to have checks and balances. Look what happened when the FSA was given too much power in the UK. It was a complete fiasco to the extent that it is now being broken up.


    Yes, the CM is empowered to remove a Commission member but only if they are found to be mentally or physically incapacitated, become bankrupt, miss three meetings or breach their terms and conditions. But if, as I understand it, there are no terms and conditions laid down for FSC members I do not fully comprehend why Robert Vasquez said "I would have challenged in Court any decision by the CM to remove me". The CM would have had no legal basis to remove him according to the FSC Act 2007.


    I didn't taking it as mocking. Certainly not to the extent of the upheaval in the Arab world at the moment but never have we had the freedom to express our political views as we have now in Llanito World.


    I find it ironic that the "discrete comment" that resulted in the FSC's draft policy on political comment has backfired and had the opposite effect: an unprecedented avalanche of commentary on the FSC's every move. I bet they wish they had just left things as they were. After all, it was all going smoothly and now look what they've stirred!

  56. Cyril

    First in my letter I said that I would have had to challenge IF I had been removed.

    Secondly, unfitness and inability due to brach of a policy established by the FSC for the purposes of the objectives of the FSC as in section 7(1)(a).

    In any event as you point out i was reasonably certain that I would have succeeded. The point that I make in my letter is that I did not wish to be disruptive to the detriment of Gibraltar by remaining in a conflictive situation. I think we had enough of that with the Chief Justice saga.

    It is important to read in context and not out of context.

  57. Cyril spot on. The focus is well and truly on the the FSC it's CEO and others and it seems that questions which we all seem to bring up and discuss in private are slowly and surely being asked on this blog. There is a great deal more to be considered that just freedom of speech, a grest deal. You could also apply this to the bar council and what seems to be very dubious methods of copy pasting.

  58. Seeing the unity of the Tunisian and now Egytian people , sacrificing their own lives , to bring down long established dictatorial regimes , should make us all aware of how fortunate we are in Gibraltar .

    We have a modern democracy which is not perfect
    by far , but guarantees us basic human rights and freedoms .

    We have elections , we have democratic insitutions ,independent judiciary . Most of the ingredients needed for democracy.

    Unfortunately we take for granted our rights and freedoms. We forget that in other parts of the world,people pay with their lives in the pursuit for freedom .

    All we need is to continuously fine tune this machine called democracy so that it works to its maximum potential.

    We know the things which are wrong. These are the things we must change.

    Control of the press by government/media.

    Curtailment of free speech.

    Curtailment of the right to demonstrate.

    That is why it is important for this blog to continue unhindered.

    Because we have a right to inform ourselves , a right to make our own opinion , a right to disagree .

    Everything is not black or white.

    We are not GSD ,GSLP ETC. we are LLANITOS that is what matters.

    We have to value each individual topic on its merit , not on the messenger. Something which no diehard GSD or GSLP supporter can fathom .

    For them what their own leader does is always right. Crazy as it might sound many mature adults are blinded with this reasoning.

    We must unite for the truth, for what is right and for impartial information .

    That is why I applaud your resignation .

    To see the clear picture , you have to fly high like a bird, you cannot have your wings clipped.

    Keep up your work. Even though many of us do not comment we like to be informed.

  59. I'm no conspiracy theorist, however I have always asked myself if it is indeed policy to under fund institutions such as GBC in a bid to keep it on a short leash.

    Other posters have already hinted towards the cowed nature of GBC when dealing with certain political hot potatoes. I know for a fact that there are certain reporters within GBC that do occasionally ask the harder question.

    On the day of the FITUR expo, James Neish was interviewing Minister Britto. Somehow the conversation turned to whether it was rational to attend a FITUR expo when we still had queues when entering and leaving Gibraltar, especially since Spain was obviously ignoring the agreements at the tripartite of implementing a further green channel. The Minister quite ruffled answered that under a GSD Government the queues were better than ever to which James Neish quite rightly retorted whether then the Hon. Minister then felt that this was an adequate state of affairs. The Minister then accused and reprimanded James Neish of putting words in his mouth.

    I just stood gobsmacked and shouted at the radio for the minister to not be so da*!ed ambiguous! However I'm pretty sure James Neish was grinning on the other end of the telephone!

    More of the above GBC please!!

  60. On the issue of regulatory bodies its time we had a legal services commission here overseeing the activities of lawyers and legal firms. This profession has created a monopoly here in Gib and nobody questions this. The average man who is not entiltled to legal aid is financially destroyed by this profession when he becomes embroilled in a legal issue. The lawyers run a cartel between them. It is the only profession that has resisted any sort of meaningful reform. Ask any user of their services and the response is one of "Who else can we go to?" Its time for this government to look at how the legal profession is operating in Gibraltar. Try getting a quote on any legal issue from any of the firms or independent lawyers. They write letters and make phone calls to each other and then charge you per letter and per phone call.Imagine a doctor writing to you and then charging you for the letter on top of his consulting time. And by the way he also charged you for the phone call he made to your daughter to say you were dying of cancer!! Well a little bird tells me that a certain lawyer and aspiring leader for Gibraltar is facing disciplinary proceedings for professional misconduct. the case has been postponed twice..hmmm I wonder why... And the Maddoff case in the US has repercussions here in Gib that could lead to a a big legal player in Gibraltar facing tens of millions of pounds in financial compensation which might just bring it to its knees. The developing case is there if you are interested to look for it on the internet. And don't mention issues of conflicts of interest, some firms have their people in all the 3 major parties so whoever wins they win all the time.

  61. LWRV Didn't you say on GBC that the planned new policy cannot be imposed retrospectively? That the Government would have to legislate? So the CM would not have been able to remove you unless he took a bill to Parliament. Unless you meant "legislating" in a wider sense to include the issuance by the FSC of guidelines to curtail political comment by board members?

  62. Cyril

    Precisely, but also that I did not want to remain in a conflictive situation. I agree I could have stayed and judicially reviewed everything but for what at a personal level, especially if legislation would have been the eventual result. Read the whole of my letter. The link is above!

  63. Anonymous at 19.37 must know the wrong lawyers. Members of my family and I have needed legal advice on a number on occasions over the years and have always been served well even when because of certain problems which we had we were unable to pay their fees.

  64. "I am subject to the rules set out in my contract; other members are subject to the rules set out in statute," said the FSC CEO on GBC's News Review GBC a few moments ago.

  65. Anonymous at 19:37

    There has always been a regulatory body for the legal profession. Regulation and discipline for the profession is in the hands of the Chief Justice under the terms of the Supreme Court Act. Disciplinary proceedings are delegated to the Admissions and Disciplinary Committee. The profession is governed by some local rules but mainly all rules of conduct applicable to barristers and solicitors in England and Wales govern the legal profession in Gibraltar.

    The reality is that It has not worked. The Marrache & Co situation is a palpable example. I have been campaigning for years about this within the Bar Council and when I was its Chairman. I even drafted a Code of Conduct for the legal profession back in 1999. I fear inertia (purposeful by some possibly) has led to no action. Now the Government will legislate, which is fine save that it is important, for the good of society, to retain the independence of the legal profession.

    The other important factor is publicising and educating users of the legal profession of their rights. There is no point in having rules if people do not know what their rights are or how to enforce them. There will soon be a much needed and overdue revolution on the subject of regulation of the legal profession.

  66. Aren't the politicians the ones in need of effective regulation between elections?

  67. Fred says:

    Robert, well done on resigning. Cada uno con su conciencia. Aqui no hay nada de martirio, ni nadie calentando la olla. Cuanto mas tranquilo, mas el efecto.

    Yo si estoy de acuerdo en una cosa: hacen falta mas llanitos independientes, y que los m!rdas politicos se lo permitan.

    I despair that there are talented and professional Gibraltarians who cannot exercise their profession as fully as they could in their homeland for the benefit of our people.

    I for one would rather that the head of the FSC was not a mainland Brit, but the reality is that Gibraltar is full of big(fattish) fish (enteraos) in a very small pond, and the sharks from abroad who settle among us simply have a feast.

  68. Wise words Fred.

    Especially those regarding Robert. There are few people like him in Gibraltar who will stand by their principles not matter what.

  69. Muy bien dicho Fred, que hay muchos llanis buenos para todo lo que hace falta y van a terminar siendo emigrantes y extranjeros en su propia tierra por esta mierda de politica mientras muchos de los otros are here for the good beer!

    God save the Gibraltarians

  70. Mister Robert, two chapo to llu y un par de llanito eggs well done. Llu jav shone de CFS four dere POLITICAL INCORRECTNESS in dis matter

    Hole tus CO.jones. All los llanis tan contigo

  71. En fin.....aqui hablando de el FCS y el bar council hechando la cac.... Debajo del tapete, o eso parace based on anon 19:02 comment......

  72. What it this the Robert Vasquez appreciation society. Que manera de bajarse los pantalones. Having said that I agree that there is a great deal to be said about the role and independence of the FSC. One needs to untangle this regulatory body and from what I hear it needs to start from the top. Reforms such as the one being introduced fall short and pay only lip service to those with agenda ( I am not refering to PRC either).

  73. Anonymous said...
    Robert you say that it is jealously that makes certain people mock you. I disagree. It is fear and embarassment. You have shown up the media as third rate and more suited to 19th century colonial Gibraltar but at hyper inflated costs. You have uncovered the politicians as shallow, lazy and lacking in principles. The FSC you have shown to be arrogant. Your pages have put on trial the judiciary, the legal profession , the planning procedures, tendering, dirtect allocation indeed Gibraltarian democracy itself. You can be sure that those who laugh are doing so on the other side of their faces. Llanito world should be recommended reading in our schools to finally destroy the propoganda of complacency which covers the wrong doings of so many pancistas, enteraos and boot lickers.

  74. Anonymous at 10:37

    What is wrong with a Robert Vasquez appreciation society? :)

    Anonymous at 11:52

    I actually meant jealousy in the sense that you explain.

  75. Ghosts says:
    theres nothing wrong with an appreciation society, pero esto es un gran peloteo. Robert is barely able to get out of his chair people; one thing is to create an animal out of this almighty blog, another is to create an animal out of that really is a frightening prospect..:) ni coalition ni na, RV the dictator with his possy massaging his ego to proportions not seen since Caesar. Something tells me though, that RV much prefers to be challenged tan to be arse licked..:)

  76. Anon 10:37

    RESPECT is something you EARN and that Robert has done.

    I guess someone like you cannot grasp such a concept.



  77. Ghost

    Welcome back, I missed you! I assure you that none of this boosts my ego ... it was already there before the blog! No, seriously, I do prefer to be challenged because surely I cannot be right on all my views? Bueno no se :)