Sunday, 24 July 2011

Is Gibraltar more Susceptible to Political Corruption?

One of the effects of the ongoing Murdoch saga is that it has shone a searchlight on the interrelationship between the press, politicians and the police. It is interesting to note that two senior police officers have resigned; one reason for both resignations is that each accepted hospitality from senior Murdoch executives. Despite their resignation neither believe that they have done wrong. Each also pointed the finger at politicians, saying that the Prime Minister had employed the ex-editor of News of the World, and both had also entertained senior Murdoch executives. This and all the Murdoch saga has got me thinking of what is acceptable behaviour and what is not, which led me to think generally about the issue of political corruption.

In the absence of action by the relevant authorities, my conclusion  is that it is voters at an election who make the ultimate judgment of what is or is not acceptable. Much of the establishment is often too engaged in the process to see clearly, or it is frozen, by circumstances and connections, into inaction. It is voters, at an election, who can make a value judgment, thereby deciding whether any particular behaviour is acceptable or not. That decision, in turn, is a measure of the morals and values of the society in question. Voters can only act, if there is an understanding of what corruption is. They also need to be possessed of relevant information upon which they can make a judgment. First that information has to find its way into the public domain.

It is interesting to note that corruption can fester in a society that lacks information, as this lack creates a fertile environment for it. In the News of the World saga it was the breaking of the story about payments to the police in return for for private information, specifically information about the investigation into the murder of Milly Dowler, that created the public backlash that has led to the ongoing repercussions. It was only this extreme (and extremely disagreeable) case that caught the imagination and enraged public opinion sufficiently to cause the resultant scandal. Previously, whilst it only affected famous individuals, the scandal bumbled along. It is important to take heed because this incident shows that, without constant trasparency, complacency creeps in. It then takes an extreme set of circumstance to result in any remedial action.

Facilitation of information reaching the public  is where the law can play a part. The law should clearly define what political corruption is; expressed in its simplest terms it is "... the use of legislative powers by government officials for illegitimate private gain". Laws should provide the wherewithal by which information can find its way into the public domain. There must also be a free and investigative press (sorely missing in Gibraltar) prepared to uncover and report information on which the public can base its views. Appropriate laws exist in the UK, as will be explained below. One aspect that went wrong in the UK (but is now being addressed) was the involvement of the press in the acts that have now led to arrests on suspicion of criminal behaviour. The other, which is connected to  the regulation of press behaviour,  is the involvement of the police itself in receiving payments from the press.

Gibraltar is well behind on laws to open up information, so the issue is not that information does not reach the public because of failures in the system, the issue is that the conduits by which information may be made public have never been sufficiently opened. This takes the argument all the way back to our politicians. They probably have no interest whatsoever in passing legislation that opens up and makes the system more transparent, despite their public policy acclamations and commitments to the contrary. Acts speak louder than words; on this subject there have been many words from our politicians but no activity.

There are various laws that help to protect against corruption by allowing information to find its way into the public domain. One of the first was a law relating to the declaration of interests of and by MPs. This were introduced in the UK following the Poulson scandal in the very late 1960's and early '70s. Thankfully, Gibraltar has this requirement for MPs. To what extent it is actively investigated is an open question. One law that Gibraltar does not have (but exists in the UK) is the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, or as it is colloquially known the "Whistle Blowers Act". This law protects persons who alert the authorities to corrupt and other undesirable practices. The UK also has a Freedom of Information Act. This law requires the Government to publish information on request, subject to a few exceptions, and not to work behind a cloak of secrecy. Finally (and very recently) the UK has enacted a Bribery Act, which replaces, consolidates, clarifies and modernises previous common law and statutory offences.

Why is Gibraltar so far behind? Do politicians have anything to hide? Or are they just scared of what might result? Possibly, but another reason is a lack of independent non-party thought and lobbying within Parliament. All MPs on the government benches are Ministers and so form the Executive of Government. If there is a change in Government that will not alter: the other party simply takes over.

One force that could change this is lobbying from outside Parliament. External pressure, if a press campaign is absent, suffers from, at least, two disadvantages. The issue is not a burning issue that enthuses citizens, so an active civic society on this subject is lacking. Accordingly, no lobbying organisation exists to push such laws onto the statute book. Secondly, the choice of candidates is limited to two main and one minor party, so if something is not in the interests of any of them, nothing will happen, save that the right noises will be heard but laws will never be enacted. If the public do suspect corruption the tendency is to change the party in Government and the merry go round continues its everlasting circle. This roundabout is assisted by a generally weak and overly politically controlled civil service. Also by a law enforcement culture that is not prepared to investigate and, if any adverse fact come to the fore, to prosecute.

These factors (and more) are especially prevalent in a small society, where an "old boys network" and close family relationships are an inevitability. It is precisely in such a jurisdiction, which Gibraltar is, that systemic, objective and  independent anti-corruption measures should be introduced. These need to be very robust. It is precisely this that what was done in Hong Kong in the mid-1970's by the introduction of an Independent Commission Against Corruption, which I have written about in the past.

Corruption exists everywhere in the world. Laws simply reduce the opportunity for it. Then, only if they are properly policed and enforced. For example, the UK has preventive laws, yet it finds itself embroiled in a corruption scandal. This is no argument against having the legal infrastructure in place to prevent corruption. It is a strong argument to show that Gibraltar  is even more susceptible to corruption than the UK, especially in light of the overconcentration of unchecked powers in very few individuals. Also citizens are entitled to have laws that protect against corruption. These laws should also defend the use of their money, prevent abuse and improve the proper exercise of fiduciary decisions on their behalf. A further argument is that whilst Gibraltar may consider itself to be an onshore financial centre now, at large, it is still viewed as a tax haven. Tax havens have the reputation for being used frequently to hide the proceeds of corrupt practices in other parts of the world. This is a further reason for ensuring that we have the right anti-corruption laws in place. It is another issue of perception that needs to be dealt with.

There is a fine line between what is political corruption and what is acceptable behaviour by politicians and public officials. The fine line is sometimes difficult to delineate. For example, is paying for a politician's or public official's expensive holiday in an exotic holiday destination with everything paid corruption? Well, it certainly has the makings of being corruption because, aside from other considerations, the politician or official has received a "gain".  It was paid holidays that was the initial metodology that ended up in the Poulson affair. It is not a question simply of cash in brown envelopes.

In order  to establish whether any particular set of facts are corrupt practices one has to determine the intention of or benefit to the "host", who is paying for that holiday or other "gain". Intention is difficult to prove and benefit is often difficult to determine. One can only look at the surrounding circumstance to elicit what the intention and/or benefit might be. So one would look at, for example:
  • what dependence the "host" might have on Government for his/her livelihood or business or economic success. It may just be licensing or it might be a requirement for legislative change or the exercise of a discretion by a Minister or public officer; 
  • It may be that the "host" has direct or indirect interests in contracts with Government; 
  • it could depend on whether the MP or public official has or has not made a  declaration of interest and if one has been made, what follow up there is; 
  • the frequency of hospitality would be relevant; as would 
  • the extent and level of generosity deployed. 
The moral of the story is that once hospitality is offered to and accepted by politicians and/or public officials all are walking a dangerous tightrope. I recall, in a lecture that I attended in the early 1970's given by T. Dan Smith (who was a player in the Poulson scandal), that he said words to the effect that the fall from this tightrope is so insidious as to creep up unnoticeably and surreptitiously. Excessive and out of the ordinary hospitality is best avoided by politicians and public officials.

It is especially incumbent upon anyone filling the office of Chief Minister to avoid this type of hospitality. The reason being that there is an overconcentration of power in that office , without there being any, or sufficient, independent checks and balances to oversee or curtail the exercise of that power. This is a significant distinction from the UK Premiership, in which there is not such a great concentration of power and which is also subject to greater scrutiny and independent systems and differing decision makers.

Did you know that certain public federal officials of the USA are obliged to avoid any possibility of accusations of corruption, by restrictions imposed on them by law and regulations? They are required to take it to the extreme that, if they share a meal in a restaurant with anyone on matters connected to their employment, even fellow employees or independent advisors, they each have to pay for exactly what they have consumed on separate bills.

It is the constitutional duty of Parliament to make laws for the "... peace, order and good government ..." of Gibraltar. It is impossible to argue that a whistleblowers law, a freedom of information law and a bribery act do not fall fully within this obligation of Parliament. If the Government does not do it, why have successive Oppositions not promoted these in Parliament? Oppositions will argue that it is the responsibility of the Government. This is not exclusively so, it is the responsibility of all MPs.  It would show the Government up if it promoted beneficial laws to reduce the chances of corrupt practices. At the same time doing so would enhance the electoral chances of any Opposition party. So why have Oppositions historically not done it? Could it be that it may be in the interest of successive Oppositions to allow the existing situation to continue, in case it gets into Government? I trust readers will forgive me for my cynicism.

In the final analysis the  responsibility for oversight of good governance in Gibraltar lies with the Governor. Perhaps the institution that is described as the  "Governor" in the 2006 Constitution will take up the issue with the Government. Legislating for open and transparent government to diminish the opportunity for corruption to exist would be another step in advancing democracy. If any of our Governments or Parliamentarians behave like children, then colonial practices are the only solution. It would, hopefully, avoid the nuclear option if abuse becomes excessive: direct rule. It is what was not avoided in the Turks & Caicos Islands.


  1. Roberto,

    Tu de aqui pa torero seguro! Bravo!

    Ke callau ta el patio. Estaran todo en Sotogrande alinyandose el siguiente arreglito con los de exteriores.


    A controversial subject ... same number of visitors ... only one comment :) !!!!

  3. Robert

    If we had a Freedom of Information Act, which bit of information would you immediately request from the Government?

    For example something that has been bugging you for some time.

  4. Anonymous at 16:38

    I would certainly seek disclosure of the CM's letter to the Chairman of the FSC about me, which has yet not been disclosed to me. In fact disclosure was refused under the Data Protection Act (wrongly and unjustifiably and in contravention of the law in my view).

    However, there are many other important disclosures that would need to be made relating to e.g. how decisions to spend tax payers' moneys are made and who and why certain companies recieve it.

  5. RV@16:38


    I thought that the DP Act was meant to protect any information that the Government may hold about you from common access.

  6. If we adopt the Public Interest Disclosure Act we would probably need to invest in building 3 or 4 more prisons or start up a Witness Relocation programme and being such a small place where everyone is connected, have to move "whistleblowers" and their families to far flung places for their protection!

  7. Anonymous at 17:10

    It protects information that anyone has about anyone else that is "personal data" as defined. It also has provisions requiring disclosure of "personal data" to the "data subject" ... in thos case me!

    The Data Protection Commissioner implicitly admitted that the CM's FSC letter in question was "personal data" about me but reliies on exemptions that I have argued have no application. He has failed to reply to these arguments preferring to rely on his authority and position rather than sensible and valid arguments.

  8. Anonymous at 17:17

    If that is the case it proves the need for it :)

  9. RV_LLW The saddest thing of all, is we all know the statement at 1717 to be true but nothing is done about it - people are scared, people have become very pasota, people have lost the will to fight, people are willing to excuse, ignore or turn a blind eye - as long s it doesnt affect them personally - and if it does, theyd be too scared to talk!

    The sad thing is, like Becket said, "There is Nothing to be done".

  10. Personally I think that the fact that we have nothing in place even remotely similar to the Public Interest Disclosure Act, speaks volumes!

    Considering the multiple rumours which have done the rounds over the years, you would have thought that a Government who has nothing to fear would be more than ready and willing to install something along the lines of the Public Interest Disclosure Act!

  11. Anon@17:34

    The way I understand the essence of the PID Act (UK) is that it protects employees who make disclosures of certain types of information, including evidence of illegal activity or damage to the environment, from retribution from their employers, such as dismissal or being passed over for promotion.

    I wonder what sort of Gib rumours an Act of this nature would bring out into the open.

  12. An excellent article, explosive yes, but spot on. I would like to think that it would be impossible for anyone to disagree with your view that a Whistleblowers Act, Freedom of Information legislation and a Bribery Act do not fall fully within Parliament’s duty to make laws for good government.

    I share your cynicism as to why appropriate laws were not enacted long ago. I also note that you go on to mention the lack of any lobbying organisation in Gibraltar (and give your views as to why this may be ineffective) and then you state that, in the final analysis, responsibility for oversight of good governance in Gibraltar lies with the Governor and you suggest that the Governor might take the issue up with Government.

    Whilst I completely understand the reasons you have given for not standing for election, as an alternative and alongside the tremendously important role this blog is now playing (and its effect), might you consider forming an official lobbying society (or similar organised body) in lieu of standing for election? I recall from way back when that the Voice of Gibraltar had a lot of support with their aims at the time. Such a body could initially champion the reforms you are seeking, but also (if it grew successfully), deal with other issues, for example environmental, law and order, social issues, etc (or even lobbying to effectively transpose Gibraltar from a tax haven into a transparent mainstream finance centre…….lots to be said and one on that one).

    A lobbying society might attract a large membership from amongst a wide range of people who have a lot to offer but are either disillusioned with Gibraltar politics or not able to dedicate their time to politics on a full time basis. It would also have the benefit that its membership and executive would be totally transparent and therefore not “nameless”. I understand why many people post anonymously on this blog, but fear of reprisals would surely be lessened if a lobbying society itself raised issues and a person is simply a member of that society?

    Would you be willing to take the first step in trying to establish such a body. If it gained momentum, it would be difficult for Government or Opposition to ignore. It would also be a message to those who keep a close eye on Gibraltar.

    Might be worth a try and more successful than trying to attract independent candidates to stand for election and most certainly better the “nuclear option”.

  13. RV@17:17


    Are you able to disclose the name of the Data Protection Commissioner?

    I fail to see how he/she can apply justifiable exemptions. I know that the "letter" keeps cropping up but never in a more pertinent article than this one.

  14. Anon @ 17.34

    I believe your understanding of the PID Act (UK) is correct. Of course what it does is provide a protection mechanism. If it were transposed into Gibraltar law, an employee would no doubt need to apply to the Industrial Tribunal via the ETB to get that protection (or compensation).

    It would therefore only effectively provide protection if at the same time the Industrial Tribunal/ETB was shaken up as well. What would be the point if the law is there but the the mechanisms for enforcing/adjudicating necessitated civil servants making a quick call to No 6 for directions as to how to proceed..........

  15. Anon@19:01

    I believe that before transposing any UK law we should make sure it works in the UK so please do not think that I am dismissing your arguments without due consideration.

    David Lewis, writing in the Industrial Law Journal, highlights what he perceives as weaknesses in the legislation. Firstly, it does not force employers to make a policy relating to disclosures. Secondly, it does not prevent employers from "blacklisting" and refusing to hire those who are known within the industry to have made disclosures in previous jobs.

    Please consider this before shaking up the IT or ETB and transposing the UK PID Act.

  16. Need less talk and more action.

    Gibraltar has more lawyers than police officers and no action is ever taken despite all the very strong rumours of corruption, bribery, etc by the so called Mafioso’s.

    Could Gibraltarians not hold a FLAG DAY calling for an END THE CORRUPTION SCANDALS using the money to employ non Gibraltarian lawyers and the Spanish press to investigate the very strong allegations.

  17. Tyrone Duarte says:

    Good to see that elements of the barristocracy are taking an interest in this.

    With all the lawyers we have in Gib it should be straight forward to create a more transparent machinery of government. However, lawyers more often than not seem to be in the business of obfuscating matters rather than bringing clarity.

    Given the absence of a transparent machinery of government and the role of lawyers in policy formulation within government we may well ask ourselves what the character of the legal profession in Gibraltar is.

    Robert, toy comiendo sushi en Marleybone, recibiste mi e-mail?

  18. Anon@19:34

    That is a very interesting post.

    I have a better idea. Let us have a FLAG DAY for MORONS.

    Spanish press indeed. Why not Espejo Publico.

  19. Anonymous at 18:35

    You use the words illegal activity ... that includes criminality.

    Anonymous at 18:50

    Happy to discuss your idea ... contact me.

    Anonymous at 18:57

    Paul Canessa.

    Anonymous at 19:28

    i agree, all deficiencies in the PID will need to be covered by local legislation.


    Yes thanks, I got it but have not yet had time to read the attachment.

    Anonymous at 20:21

    Please ... is insult all that you can resort to?

  20. RV@20:48

    Balance the following:-

    Posted by Anon@19:34

    "Could Gibraltarians not hold a FLAG DAY calling for an END THE CORRUPTION SCANDALS using the money to employ non Gibraltarian lawyers and the Spanish press to investigate the very strong allegations".

    Did you not find this comment highly insulting to any Gibraltarian.

    Yet you find my comment insulting:

    "That is a very interesting post.

    I have a better idea. Let us have a FLAG DAY for MORONS.

    Spanish press indeed. Why not Espejo Publico".

    If you think that all I have resorted to is insults there is a chance that, on reflection, your blog is more about malice than enhancing democracy.

  21. Anonymous at 21:10

    I was referring to your language ... and you did not resort to debate ... now you have so I believe my reply has had a beneficial effect ... so malice? NO the opposite.

    No I did not find the comment insulting to Gibraltarians ... I did find the suggestion of Spanish press a a very silly suggestion, however.

  22. Robert

    Regarding the PID Act you use the words illegal activity ... that includes criminality in reply to Anon18:35.

    I take it that you agree that such activities and the right to protection for "whistle blowers" should apply to employees of banks, building societies,legal firms, bunkering companies,car bodywork repair shops et al.

  23. Anonymous at 22:15

    Yes, is there anything that I have said that would make you think the contrary? Also to all public servants ...

  24. RV

    I was really getting into it when I came across this sentence...

    "Did you know that certain pubic federal officials of the USA.."

    Word of advice, proof read your article several times. Its alright for us bloggers to mess up but you are, our Voice :)

    That said, great article. Eshate a un lao, Paco y Dominique.

    Wonder why you don't publish in the Chronicle!!!

  25. Disciple X

    I did proof read it and many have read it and not noticed this :) Thanks! Now corrected :)


    Definitions part 1

    Political corruption is a phenomenon that defies direct measurement as well as clear-cut definition. In terms of measurement, researchers have relied on indirect methods and people's perceptions. In terms of definition, researchers have been confronted with a broad spectrum of popular connotations. "Political corruption" is frequently used synonymously with "corruption" (in general), whereas "governmental", "grand" and "coercive" corruption is sometimes used to denote political corruption, but the overlap is not obvious.

    Political corruption has on the one hand been understood very broadly as "unethical behaviour which violates the norms of the system of political order". This includes almost anything and may embrace all sorts of moral and political judgements. On the other hand, it has been understood as "the breaking of the formal rules that regulate a position of political authority". This would restrict it to a matter of legal interpretation and criminal investigation, but would miss the deliberate manipulation of political institutions, laws and rules of procedure.

    The most widely used definition of corruption is the World Bank's working definition of corruption as "abuse of public power for private benefit". Transparency International (TI) takes a somewhat broader approach and defines it as "the abuse of entrusted power for private gain". In this line, political corruption can be defined as "abuse of political power for private benefit". But the problem remains of defining what is "abuse" and what is "political".



    part 2

    Taking it back to Aristotle, the ancient Greeks had an understanding of corruption as a deviation from or perversion of sound government systems. Tyranny, for instance, was a corrupted monarchy, where the monarch no longer had the well-being of the nation (his subjects) in mind, but his own advantage. Corruption was basically seen as a problem of moral decay.

    In 18th century England, corruption meant the encroachment by the executive on the legislature, for instance by money payments, the offer of positions and pensions, and the trading of patronage. Corruption was the violation of the principle of constitutional "checks and balances", authoritarian tendencies and the subsequent decay of the political order.

    These and other historical understandings of corruption bring in two important aspects, namely motives and consequences. The corrupt motive is wealth, status and power, or more specifically self-enrichment, self-indulgence and power preservation (as contrasted to the non-corrupt political leader's concern for the well-being of the nation). The consequences of political corruption are institutional decay, arbitrary power, authoritarian tendencies and reduced liberty.

    However, the consequences of political corruption cannot be the basis for a definition. That would be to put the cart in front of the horse. Not all acts of political corruption necessarily lead to institutional decay and political oppression, and political corruption is not the only factor that leads to institutional decay and political oppression. Not all acts of political corruption are even necessarily to the detriment of the 'public interest'.

    The corrupt motive of power preservation is important. The concerns of the ancient Greeks bring in the possibility of collective benefit or gain, in addition to private benefit. Political corruption is therefore when the rulers or ruling elites misuse the resources they control for the benefit of preserving their political power.

    A more specific delineation of political corruption can thus be made. The main aspects of political corruption are that it takes place at the highest levels of the political system, and that it involves politicians, government ministers, senior civil servants and other elected, nominated or appointed senior public office holders. It occurs when these officials, who make and enforce the laws in the name of the people, are themselves corrupt.

    Furthermore, political corruption includes two basic processes. One process is located on the demand side of corrupt transactions; it is the methods by which ruling elites abuse their hold on power to extract and accumulate resources. It occurs when political power-holders enrich themselves, individually and collectively. The other process is the corrupt use of these (and other public) resources for the purpose of power preservation and expansion. It occurs when political power-holders use extracted resources or other corrupt means to maintain or strengthen their hold on power.

  28. RV

    An informative two part article titled DELIMITING POLITICAL CORRUPTION by Anonymous.

    Whoever you are, thank you.

  29. RV

    I have highlighted this part from Anon 02:13 which I think encapsulates that which I feel very strongly about, i.e. discretion.

    "Not all acts of political corruption are even necessarily to the detriment of the 'public interest'."

    In my view, Political Corruption could be seen or be construed to have taken place when there is a deviation from the norm or from the written procedures.

    My problem with this is that as with everything in life not everything falls within the "normal" boundaries and it is then that discretion has to be used to accomodate that which falls through the net.

    This discretion has to be allowed, even at political level, because it performs a necessary function in the wider context.

    Thus it should not be seen to contravene that which embodies corruption in its strictest terms.

  30. Anonymous said...
    I know it might sound petty, but for me the use of 'perks' paid for by tax payers' money niggles me - for example, many Ministers and some public officilas, whofly Business Class, may be using the air miles gained from these flights for personal travel for them and their families instead of these air miles being used towards other flights arisnig from their office which would in turn reduce the cost to the tax payer. I know this is 'pecata minuta' but it does show the mind set of some that allows them to believe that public funds are limitless and unaccountable for. Surely this can't be right?

  31. Tyrone Duarte says:

    Me parece ke 'pecata minuta' en llani se traduce algo asi como 'chupar del bote'.

    i enjoyed the academic piece by anon0213; but what's your take on what goes on in Gib? under what category does it come under?

  32. Anonimous 14:44

    As far as I can remember there was an Air Miles fiasco , alledgely, by a senior public servant, which was reported in Parliament some time ago. Admittedly, as far as I am aware, it is also alledged that the part or all the benefits were returned (if thats the term!). But it did leave a question mark over the professional judgement applied on this minor issue! To boot thre may be I'm sure some consultancy job or membership of some commission or other that followed retirements!!

  33. Anonymous 14.44

    WESTERN VERSUS NON-WESTERN STANDARDS If one does not accept the criteria established by law or the norms of a small elite group as delimiting political corruption, how far one can go in delineating the relevant norms.

  34. RV,

    You started your article with a reference to the British media and the Murdoch saga.

    If I may I would like to angle your entire debate towards the need for more investigative journalism which will highlight far more serious issues which unfortunately remain in the "limbo" state because proof is often "difficult" to obtain.

    I am sure that a more rigorous approach to journalism in Gib would certainly highlight corruption at a different levels rather than the puerile and biased information we are fed via our state funded newspaper...

    Comments are welcome! :)

  35. Disciple X

    I can only agrees with you ... but ...

  36. 22.09 You say.

    (I am sure that a more rigorous approach to Journalism in Gib would certainly highlight corruption at different levels rather than the puerile and biased information we are fed via our state funded newspaper.)

    We do not have unadulterated journalism in Gibraltar that is why at 25 JULY 2011 19:34 I said Spanish press as they seem to get most of their shit out in the open on news paper and TV all year round. The Gibraltar press mainly reports on past issues etc little if any investigation is done due to the pressures encountered from the GSD government.


  37. Equality

    I understand your reasoning but disagree. The Spanish press is unsuitable. Much of it has an inbuilt bias against Gibraltar. Its credibility is affected and not high. Its findings would be suspected, not believrd and so it would be counterproductive.

  38. Equality@01:03

    I do not read Spanish newspapers unless it has something to do with Gibraltar. I do, on occasions watch Spanish TV.

    "Shit" is the operative word.

  39. "You idiot. You naive, foolish, irresponsible nincompoop. There is really no description of stupidity, no matter how vivid, that is adequate. I quake at the imbecility of it."

    Readers should be aware that I am not employing insulting language. The quote is apparently taken from Tony Blair’s memoirs and describes his regret for having spearheaded the introduction of the Freedom of Information Act. The point which I am making is that the statutes, to which you have referred, are not necessarily the panacea which they are made out to be. Indeed it at least shows that it is very possible to argue that these laws are not necessarily good for Gibraltar or that their non-introduction presents a challenge to the apparent constitutional duty of Parliament to make laws for the good governance of Gibraltar.

    It is interesting to note that the Acts you have referred to were introduced relatively recently and as far as I am aware nobody argued, prior to their introduction, that the good governance of England/UK was at risk.

    It is important therefore, to take a few steps back and have a debate about the issue which has been raised in a more measured and objective manner. Do we really think that the practical, on the ground, reality in Gibraltar is that we are more susceptible to corruption, ‘a la’ Turks and Caicos? Is Gibraltar, now, facing the prospect of direct rule as Turks and Caicos did a few years ago? I understand that in T&C corruption was rampant and practiced in a very obvious way to the extent that the local population welcomed direct rule. Reading your contribution one would be forgiven for thinking that corruption at a political level is festering and that both government and opposition are conspiring to ensure that the status quo remains intact. Call me naive but in my view this is not, on any objective or reasonable analysis, reflective of reality.

  40. Anonymous at 17:44

    My first point is that you do not engage with the main thrust of my argument: Gibraltar's increased susceptibility to corruption. You take issue with two details.

    Blair did not "apparently" say what you quote, he did say it. He said it because as a politician he decided he did not want it precisely because it worked and because it worked it was not "convenient" for politicians. So for me it is the best argument for having a Freedom of Information law ("FoI" laws). That it may be in a different form from that in the UK because we should learn from lessons learnt by them possibly but it is not an argument for not having such legislation.

    That no one argued in the UK that non-introduction of the laws in question did not go to issues of good government is an enormous statement. It is not so it was the basic argument used by Blair in support of the introduction of FoI laws. He said:

    "if a government is genuine about wanting a partnership with the people who it is governing, then the act of government itself must be seen in some sense as a shared responsibility and the government has to empower the people and give them a say in how that politics is conducted."

    Yes, Gibraltar is not only susceptible to corruption but also that there is corruption. If there was none it would be the exception the entire world. There is no suggestion that Gibraltar is facing a Turks & Caicos direct rule situation. You disseminate. The argument is that there should be open and transparent systems, authorities and laws to reduce the chances of that situation developing. Do you KNOW that it does not exist. You can speculate that it does NOT but there is no objective methodology by which anyone can KNOW, That is precisely the point I make.

    Finally the mathematical progression argument that you apply to come to the conclusion that implicit in my argument is that the government and opposition are conspiring is to read something into my argument that is not said. The point is that independent of each other no politician historically has legislated to reduce the opportunity for corruption. It is not a conspiracy it is a fact.

    As to the people of the Turks & Caicos welcoming direct rule. This was not the case see e.g.