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Karen Ramagge Prescott will be next Speaker of Parliament as Melvyn Farrell retires

Mrs Justice Ramagge Prescott alongside fellow judges Mr Justice Restano and Mr Justice Yeats. Photo by Johnny Bugeja

Karen Ramagge Prescott, Gibraltar’s first female Puisne Judge in the Supreme Court, was on Tuesday announced as the next Speaker of the Gibraltar Parliament, where she will also be the first woman to hold the post.

Chief Minister Fabian Picardo will move a motion at the Ceremonial Opening of Parliament next Friday to formalise her appointment, which is backed by the Opposition.

The appointment comes after Speaker Melvyn Farrell announced he would retire from the post after four years of what Mr Picardo described as “exemplary service”.

Mrs Justice Ramagge Prescott will be taking over the role from former Speaker of the House, Melvyn Farrell, who recently informed the Government of his desire to step down despite having been requested by Mr Picardo to remain in the post.

She brings with her a wealth of experience in her legal profession and was first called to the Bar in 1988.

She has since practiced law in Gibraltar, worked as Crown Counsel, and has advised the Government on areas relating to Public Law.

Mrs Justice Ramagge Prescott was the first woman to be appointed a Notary Public in Gibraltar in 2007, and later that year she was appointed Stipendiary Magistrate and Coroner for Gibraltar.

In 2010 she was the first woman in Gibraltar to be appointed a Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court of Gibraltar, and in 2017 was the first Gibraltarian woman to have been appointed a Master of the Bench of the Middle Temple.

The Chief Minister consulted the Leader of the GSD, Keith Azopardi, on the proposed appointment of Mrs Justice Ramagge Prescott to be the new Speaker of the Gibraltar Parliament, the Government said in a statement.

Mr Azopardi confirmed that the motion to be moved by the Chief Minister for the appointment of Mrs Justice Ramagge Prescott as the next Speaker of the Parliament will enjoy the support of the GSD Members of Parliament.

In a message on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, Mr Azopardi said: “The appointment of Mrs Justice Karen Ramagge Prescott as the next Speaker of Parliament will have our full support.”

“I discussed the appointment with the Chief Minister last week. We wish outgoing Speaker Melvyn Farrell a happy retirement.”

The Chief Minister said: “I am genuinely delighted to be able to move the Motion at the Ceremonial Opening for the appointment of Mrs Justice Ramagge Prescott to be the next Speaker of the Gibraltar Parliament.”

“I believe that Mrs Justice Ramagge Prescott will hold the respect of the whole of the Parliament and will be respected beyond the walls of the Parliament building as she has been, both within and outside the jurisdiction of Gibraltar and beyond the walls of the Supreme Court.”

“In the almost fourteen years that Mrs Justice Ramagge Prescott has sat on the Supreme Court bench she has dealt with a considerable spread of matters which have impacted the community and which have demonstrated her ability to deal with complex legal and factual issues.”

“She is therefore imminently well suited to deal with the role of Speaker in the new Parliament and I am very grateful that she has agreed to take on this prestigious and onerous role in the heart of our democracy.”

“I am particularly delighted to move the Government Motion for the appointment of the first woman Speaker in a Parliament that will, for the first time include two women as Government Ministers and two women Opposition members.”

“This will mean that for the first time in our nation’s history the total number of women in the Gibraltar Parliament moves forward considerably, although not yet in full proportionate representation of our population.”

“It should be noted that Mrs Justice Ramagge Prescott has given notice to the Chief Justice of her intention to retire from the bench.”

“She will not sit to hear new matters beyond November 10 which is the date of the Ceremonial Opening of the Gibraltar Parliament.”

In the statement from No.6 Convent Place, Mr Picardo also thanked Mr Farrell for his “exemplary service in coming out of retirement” in order to take up the post of Speaker over the past four years.

“Melvyn Farrell has been an exemplary servant of the people of Gibraltar,” Mr Picardo said.

“Mr Farrell had retired as Clerk of the Parliament after a long and distinguished period of public service as a senior Civil Servant.”

“He agreed to my request to become Speaker and has further distinguished himself in that role as he has in all others as a public servant.”

“Despite my request for Melvyn to continue into the next Parliament, he expressed his desire to step down from the post now, something which I, of course, fully respected.”

“He has been selfless in his dedication to Gibraltar and its people and this will no doubt be recognised by all who have had the benefit of serving with him and especially those of us who were fellow Members of the last Parliament alongside him.”

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