• Spain's news in English
Spain protests over 'reckless' Gibraltar police patrol vessel
A stand off between RGP and Guardia Civil in summer 2013. Photo: AFP

Spain protests over 'reckless' Gibraltar police patrol vessel

Fiona Govan · 11 Jul 2016, 17:18

Published: 11 Jul 2016 17:18 GMT+02:00
Updated: 11 Jul 2016 17:18 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Ambassador Simon Manley was summoned to Spain’s foreign office on Monday afternoon by Ignacio Ybáñez to hear the official complaint over an incident in waters off Gibraltar last Friday.

Spain complained that a Royal Gibraltar Police vessel had approached a Spanish Guardia Civil patrol twice at great speed and only diverted to avoid a collision at the last moment.

"The RGP patrol boat, which was sailing at a high speed, diverted just a few metres from the Spanish boat causing a big wave that unsettled the Spanish police vessel," Spain's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"Its irresponsible and reckless manoeuvre created a significant, clear and sudden risk for the safety of both official boats and their crew."    

Spain's secretary of state for foreign affairs asked Britain's ambassador to ensure Britain takes "appropriate measures so these types of behaviours are not repeated".

In response the British Embassy stated: "Safety at sea is one of our top priorities. The Royal Gibraltar Police vessel attempted to make contact with the Spanish vessel and maintained a safe distance at all times."

The RGP denied that they had in any way acted irresponsibly.  

"The RGP denies the version of events as described, with the encounter occurring approximately 150 metres off Catalan Bay on the day in question," said the RGP statement given to The Local.

"At the time, the RGP vessel approached the Guardia Civil vessel and maintained a safe distance at all times whilst attempting to make contact with the crew of establishing their intentions."

The protest is just the latest in a long standing diplomatic spat fuelled by incidents in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters which have seen ambassadors from both sides called in to hear complaints.

In recent years there have been hundreds of so called ‘illegal incursions’ by Spanish vessels in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters resulting in repeated official complaints from London to Madrid.

During 2015 alone, 431 incursions into British Gibraltar Territorial waters by Spanish State vessels.

Diplomatic tensions over the tiny territory at the foot of southern Spain flared up during the summer of 2013 when Spain began imposing stringent checks at the border that led to lengthy queues both in and out of Gibraltar, in apparent retaliation at Gibraltar sinking an artificial reef off its coast.

Spain ceded Gibraltar to Britain under the 1713 Treaty of Utrecht, but still claims sovereignty and refuses to recognize its right to territorial waters.

Story continues below…

A spokesman at the British Embassy insisted: "We are confident of UK sovereignty over BGTW in international law. The Royal Navy challenges all Spanish State vessels whenever they make maritime incursions into BGTW.

"Incursions are an unacceptable violation of British sovereignty. We formally protest all incursions with the Spanish Government. We will continue to use a range of proportionate diplomatic and naval responses to incidents."

The Brexit vote is a blow for Gibraltar, whose population voted overwhelmingly to remain within the EU. 

The tiny territory of Gibraltar with its 33,000 population relies heavily upon workers living in Spain, supplies imported from Spain and its ability to trade to within the European single market.

Spain has said that co-sovereignty offers the best solution in a Brexit scenario, a move which Gibraltar has rejected out of hand.

For more news from Spain, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Fiona Govan (fiona.govan@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Man rescued from bin after climbing in find old clothes
Photo: Policía Local Murcia

Police were called after passersby reported hearing a man calling for help from within a rubbish bin in the Vistabella neighbourhood of Murcia, southern Spain.

Spain faces crucial week as conservatives re-take power
Mariano Rajoy hopes to form a government this week. Photo: AFP

Spain entered a crucial week as acting conservative PM Mariano Rajoy prepared to re-take power, ending ten rollercoaster months without government marked by hope and disillusion.

Eight very creepy Halloween costumes ideas from Spain
Photo: Pan's Labyrinth

Forget flamenco dancers and bullfighters, The Local counts down the freakiest alternative costume ideas to dress up in this Halloween.

Man attacked by racist thug in UK street for talking Spanish

Tomas Gil, 27, from Valencia in eastern Spain was talking to his girlfriend in their native language after a night out in the British seaside town of Poole when he was set upon by a racist thug.

Malaga: Police probe bizarre 'sex death' of homeless Brit
The man was found near Malaga airport. Photo: Dennis Howlett / Flickr

A British homeless man was found dead tied to a bench near Malaga airport with his trousers down and his genitals in a can of tuna.

Clock ticking as Spain races to avoid third elections
Third elections could now be avoided. Photo: AFP

Spain's Socialists voted on Sunday to allow the conservatives to take power, likely averting a third election for Spaniards tired of going to the polls.

Spain worries about tourism future
Photo: Josep Lago / AFP file picture

After basking in its best tourist summer season in 15 years, Spain now sees dark clouds on the horizon as popular destinations reach saturation point and holidaymakers are more thrifty, industry experts say.

Spain's Socialists lift veto on Rajoy to break deadlock
The Socialists have decided to lift their veto on the minority conservative government or not. Photo: Gerard Julien/ AFP

Spain's embattled Socialists on Sunday voted to lift a long-standing veto that has prevented the conservatives from forming a minority government, in what should finally end a ten-month political impasse.

Spain's 'Napflix' aims to bore viewers to sleep
Photo: Screengrab/ Napflix

A Spanish video platform called Napflix, designed to put people to sleep with dull content, was launched this week and its founders are on the lookout for more "monotony and repetition."

Recipe: How to make fabada - traditional Asturian bean stew
Photo: Flavio Lorenzo Sánchez/Flickr

The hearty Asturian dish is a perfect lunch on a cold day... and don't forget the crusty bread and cider!

Spanish 'La Mafia' restaurants banned after Italian complaint
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Spain's top court overturns bullfighting ban in Catalonia
Hunt launched for ten most wanted Brit fugitives hiding out in Spain
Napflix: Spaniards launch very boring TV channel for siestas
Madrid parish church faces fine over 'too noisy' bells
Celebrate expat life at Madrid’s THRIVE convention
Fury after kids told to bring their own loo roll to school
Disney announces plans for Don Quixote action movie
Activist tells 8-yr-old matador wannabe with cancer 'just die'
King to make last minute push to avoid third vote in Spain
Amazing photos of Catalonia's 'human tower' contest
What's on in Spain: October 2016
'No way, Jose! You'll never get your hands on our Rock'
Recipe: How to make a classic Spanish tortilla de patatas
Chorizo in paella? Go back to cooking school Jamie Oliver
Spain in eye of a perfect storm after 10 months without govt
Thousands share clips of life for 'Spain in a Day' film
Ten incredible Spain locations for Game of Thrones season 7
Analysis & Opinion
Why moving to Spain could be the best decision of your life
Seven reasons why autumn is the very best season in Spain
Spanish study finds four types of personality. Which are you?
New search underway for civil war grave of poet Lorca
Bison found decapitated on Valencia nature reserve
jobs available