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Govt rejects Bossino’s attack on anti-bullying legislation, insists will heed court’s guidance

REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi

The Gibraltar Government on Thursday said the GSD’s Damon Bossino “arrogantly turned down” the Chief Minister’s “generous offer” to amend anti-bullying legislation when it was discussed in parliament.

The government was responding to GSD criticism over a piece of legislation that was the focal point of a recent GHA case involving the former medical director, Dr Daniel Cassaglia.

In a Court of Appeal ruling, senior judges ruled in favour of Dr Cassaglia but said the anti-bullying legislation was “puzzling” and unclear on core concepts including the definition of what constitutes as bullying in law.

Earlier this week Mr Bossino said the Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, would be “forced to eat humble pie” and change the legislation.

At the time that the legislation debated in Parliament, the GSD abstained from voting on it because it believed the law was flawed.

Since the judgement was delivered, the Government said it will take advice on how best to amend the legislation.

“Without commenting on the underlying facts of the case, I very much welcome and respect the decision of the Court of Appeal in clarifying this legislation, as I do in every case where the Courts consider a piece of legislation and advise a need for clarification,” Mr Picardo said.

“Mature lawyers should not regard such a position in a judgment as a personal criticism leading to a three course meal of humble pie, as Mr Bossino suggests.”

“That happens often and does not usually lead to the sort of arrogant one-upmanship that we have all had to witness in Mr Bossino’s unattractive remarks.”

“In fact, if one believes in the rule of law and the separation of powers, what we have seen in the Court of Appeal’s analysis of the statute in question is the proper functioning of our parliamentary system of government, subject to the check and balance of the Court as the ultimate arbiter of the law.”

Mr Picardo said the statements from Mr Bossino in respect of the bullying legislation are “no more than a reflection of his desire to raise his profile in order to maintain his leadership ambitions on the boil for another decade”.

“Mr Bossino has failed to explain why he arrogantly chose to make no suggestions to amend the Bill in Parliament when I invited him to do so,” Mr Picardo said in a statement.

“Improving legislation in Parliament is the role of every parliamentarian and it is what Mr Bossino is paid almost £40,000 to do, not just to criticise without proposing alternatives.”

“Mr Bossino calls me every name going, as he has done for the past 30 years, but he hides from the public the reality that I generously invited him to do what he is paid to do, which is to work with us to amend the legislation at the time.”

“He, however, preferred his usual tactic of throwing stones and making criticisms but not contributing anything positive in terms of trying to amend the Bill at the time.”

Mr Picardo said the Hansard records from Parliament shows Mr Bossino “arrogantly refusing” to contribute to amend and improve the Bill.

“I nonetheless imagine we will continue to read these sort of highly-charged statements against me and the Government for the few months that the presently apparently energised Mr Bossino will be pursuing the political demise not of the Government, but of his current leader, [Keith] Azopardi.”

“It might not last long.”

“He never usually does.”

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