February 03, 2023
INCIDENT ON EASTERN BEACH: VIOLATION OF BRITISH SOVEREIGNTY
His Excellency the Governor and the Chief Minister met today to consider the fuller report now provided to them by the Royal Gibraltar Police and His Majesty’s Customs Gibraltar in respect of the incident on Eastern Beach yesterday.
Additionally, the Government of Gibraltar is coordinating its response to this incident with senior officials at the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in London and with His Majesty’s Ambassador to Spain.
While the facts of the incident continue to be investigated, the incursion into BGTW, with Spanish officials landing on Gibraltar’s territory at Eastern Beach is clearly a grave breach of sovereignty and jurisdiction.
Similarly, should it be confirmed that Spanish officials discharged their weapons in Gibraltar, such action would be a very serious breach of the law as well as being reckless and dangerous, especially in an area of dense civilian population, given the proximity of a residential estate in the area.
Separately but additionally, the lawlessness of a gang of individuals apparently engaged in illicit activity in Gibraltar is unacceptable to the Government and represents activity that the Government and Gibraltar’s law enforcement agencies will not tolerate.
The Governments of Gibraltar and of the United Kingdom consider that the events of yesterday will require careful consideration as to the nature and level of diplomatic response.
United Kingdom officials will therefore be contacting Spanish officials to seek an explanation of this violation of the sovereignty of Gibraltar before making a final determination of what action to take.
Despite the nature of their illegal incursion into BGTW and Gibraltar, the Chief Minister and the Commissioner of Police yesterday contacted their Spanish counterparts to enquire after the well-being of the SVA officers in question.
The Chief Minister, the Hon Fabian Picardo KC MP, said: “The evidence surrounding this incident discloses a gross violation of British sovereignty and, potentially, the most serious and dangerous incident for many years. Before reacting we must of course be sure of the facts but the events indicate that the actions by the Spanish officials are intolerable.
“Spanish law enforcement agencies know they can seek and would enjoy support from Gibraltar law enforcement if they need to continue a chase into Gibraltar but it would appear that they did not do so in this case.
“We will continue working with our law enforcement agencies to determine the facts and will seek assistance from Spain in doing so.
“Whilst we continue to determine the facts, I nonetheless reached out yesterday to Spanish counterparts to inquire after the well-being of the Spanish officers in question.
“As we continue to work with our law enforcement agencies in reaching final determinations as to the location etc of the discharge of weapons, we will also work in conjunction with the United Kingdom Government in order to determine the appropriate response in respect of these dangerous actions and gross violation of our British sovereignty by the presence of Spanish law enforcement officials in Gibraltar.”
NOTE TO EDITORS
It should also be noted that, contrary to information circulating in Spanish media sources, the information provided to the Government of Gibraltar suggests that when they attended the scene officers of His Majesty’s Customs immediately offered their Spanish law enforcement colleagues assistance and medical attention. The SVA officers refused the medical attention offered. They told HMC officers that despite the fact that their vessel appeared to have engine failure they wanted to immediately return to their main vessel, which they were permitted to do.