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Govt ‘will eat humble pie’ on anti-bullying laws, GSD says

The GSD on Wednesday said the Chief Minister will be “forced to eat humble pie and change anti-bullying laws” after the Gibraltar Government said it will take on advice on how best to amend the legislation at the heart of the GHA case.

In a ruling on the GHA bullying case involving former Medical Director, Dr Daniel Cassaglia, the Court of Appeal said “puzzling” anti-bullying legislation was unclear on core concepts including the definition of what constituted bullying in law.

Last week the Government rejected the GSD’s claim that this decision “unequivocally vindicated” the Opposition’s position when the law was debated in Parliament.

At the time when the legislation was debated in Parliament, the GSD abstained from voting and said it was flawed.

The GSD said on Wednesday said: “Mr Picardo’s smokescreen lashing out against the GSD and Damon Bossino, in particular, in respect of the controversy arising from the failures in the anti-bullying legislation will not work.”

“It just speaks to the arrogant and high-handed attitude of a Chief Minister who is increasingly less able to take any criticism.”

“The fact of the matter remains that Mr Picardo, personally and in an obvious electoral attempt at currying favour with certain interest groups sought to bulldoze what, on any analysis, was a badly drafted law.”

“Despite our concerns, he went ahead and passed the Bill with government majority anyway,” the GSD’s Damon Bossino said.

“His reply was viciously opposed to an alternative view.”

“For him to pretend otherwise is to misrepresent what happened.”

“The Court of Appeal now agrees with us on something which should have been blatantly obvious to him at the time.”

“I am not sure what is worse – that he knew it was badly drafted but he decided to ride roughshod over those concerns or that he didn’t even see its obvious flaws.”

“This is especially unforgiveable when it is considered that the government has the full armoury of drafters at its disposal to produce good law.”

Mr Bossino said Mr Picardo “cannot get away from the severe criticism of the Act by an independent and powerful body such as the Court of Appeal so he now, embarrassingly, with his tail between his legs, is forced to admit the magnitude of the failures in question and sheepishly agree to ‘take advice’ on how best to amend the Act”.

“In a bizarre but not surprising twist when it comes to him, the Chief Minister now, somehow and inexplicably, attempts to put the blame on Mr Bossino and the GSD,” the Opposition said in a statement.

“Does he really expect the public to be fooled once again on this, like on almost every other issue that negatively impacts on his government – it is never his or his government’s fault.”

“On any reading of Hansard, it is beyond any doubt that he was personally invested in the presentation of the Bill to Parliament and accepted no criticism of it to the degree that he brazenly described it as a ‘carefully crafted’ Bill.”

“A humbler and more reasonable individual would have realised that Mr Bossino’s interventions were made in good faith and he should have done the right thing and withdrawn the Bill, or not taken it through all the stages in order to consider whether the final draft should be amended to take account of Mr Bossino’s rightful concerns, and as now proved by the Court of Appeal.”

“The fact is that regrettably and to our detriment the Chief Minister will admit no wrong, especially if it is in response to the GSD - but eight full years down the line and after two appeals in a much reported, sensitive case, he is now forced to do the changes which should have been unnecessary in the first place.”

“There is no hiding place when a senior judge criticises you,” said Mr Bossino.

“Mr Picardo has been well and truly been put in his place, and once again ends up with ‘egg on his face’.”

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