The GSD is “lazy, reckless and negligent” in its approach to Gibraltar politics, the Gibraltar Government said yesterday as the row over Albert Isola’s personal declaration of interests in Parliament flared up again.
The Gibraltar Government and the Opposition have become embroiled in bitter exchanges after the GSD revealed Mr Isola had not filed his declaration and that his name had been linked to a Bahamian company listed in the Panama Papers.
Mr Isola, the Minister for Financial Services, apologised for the delay in not filing the declaration sooner – there is no deadline in law – but insisted the company related to his previous work as a professional lawyer with Isolas law firm.
On Monday, the GSD said that explanation was not good enough and batted away government suggestions that it had acted irresponsibly by raising the issue.
Last night, the government hit back again.
“The Gibraltar public is too clever to be duped by Mr Feetham and the GSD on an issue relating to Albert’s probity and professional conduct,” said Chief Minister Fabian Picardo in a statement.
“In fact, it says something about how reckless and negligent the GSD are that they haven’t appeared to notice that the allegations they make relate to conduct by Mr Isola covering the periods when both Daniel Feetham and Elliott Phillips have been his partners at Isola & Isola.”
The Gibraltar Government said Mr Isola had already set out in an earlier declaration in 2014 – and the subsequent 2016 declaration, now filed – his interest in the Fiduciary Group, which owns the Bahamian company Artnell Associates Ltd, a firm that provided limited professional director services.
The Government dismissed any suggestion of impropriety and said there was no need for Mr Isola to disclose his professional activity in respect of that company on his personal Declaration of Interest form.
There had been no failure by Mr Isola to disclose anything that should have been disclosed, the Government insisted, despite GSD claims to the contrary.
“The GSD have therefore been lazy in just repeating their original nonsensical allegations for the purposes simply of trying to tarnish Mr Isola in their usual venomous fashion,” it said.
“What is clear is that the GSD continue to be negligent and reckless about whether their allegations also tarnish Gibraltar.”
No 6 Convent Place said Spanish press reports on the GSD statements had suggested that a Gibraltar Minister had hidden an interest in a Bahamian entity when this was “blatantly untrue and not the case.”
The allegations were being used to try to damage Gibraltar generally and not just the Government, No. 6 Convent Place said.
“The venom with which the GSD are prosecuting the issue, despite the answers already provided demonstrating there is nothing to pursue, is blatant and demonstrates a complete lack of judgment on the part of those in the ‘new’ GSD making decisions about how to conduct the public affairs of Gibraltar,” it added.
The Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, said many people had been in contact with Mr Isola and himself to condemn the manner in which the GSD had handled this matter.
“We have received some truly touching messages of support and empathy from the widest cross section of the Community as a whole and the financial services fraternity in particular,” he said.
“All are incensed at the manner in which the GSD has been so reckless in making these unfounded allegations against Albert and their negligent lack of concern for how they will be exploited against Gibraltar generally.”
“To see them repeat the whole set of allegations again in a press statement this morning, even after Albert has already clarified that his interests have been properly disclosed in his Declaration of Interests form, is even worse but helps to usefully illustrate just how bloody-minded the GSD are being about this matter: not caring about the truth and just seeking to misrepresent the facts. People will see through this.”
“I therefore have no hesitation in reasserting my full and unstinting confidence in Albert and in his having properly disclosed his interests.”
“The GSD are entirely wrong about this as they are about so much else: the cut-throat way that they do politics is not conducive to working together for the good of Gibraltar,” Mr Picardo added.