The Voice of
Press Release

7TH. JUNE 2004.

VOGG militants, Julio Pons and Paul Tunbridge, received invitations, from H.E. The Governor for the Garden Party and from The Commander British Forces, for the parade, on the occasion of Her Majesty's birthday. These have been returned with respective letters.

In view of the present political climate (HMG's reluctance to rescind Jack Straw's policy statement of 12th. July 2002 on joint - sovereignty) and The Queen's failure to visit Gibraltar, during this tercentenary year (as not to offend Spanish 'sensitivities'), The Group feels it untenable for any of its members to attend or celebrate the events of the day.

This decision, painful to take, but not difficult to reach, does not reflect on the respect the VOGG has for Sir Francis Richards personally. It is hoped that the rapport and cordial relationship that has prospered, since his arrival on The Rock, will not be prejudiced but develop further. Members of The Group have attended other functions of a more local or private nature, organised by His Excellency and will always be partial to doing so again. They have no qualms, if invited, to going along to sing 'Happy Birthday to you' at his own party.

Whilst The VOGG has written to Sir Francis on a private and confidential basis, it deems it opportune to make public the letter sent to the CBF, the contents of which are self - explanatory (attached).

On 10th. June, The VOGG will hold two vigils. The first, at the main public entrance to the stadium, as from 4pm, until the start of the parade. The Group will then reassemble outside The Convent, as from 6pm, for the duration of the function there. A pertinent banner or placards will be displayed at both venues.

Return to Index

The Commander British Forces,
HM Base.

Tuesday, 01 June 2004

Dear Sir,

I, the undersigned, a militant with The Voice of Gibraltar Group, return my invitation to the military parade on occasion of Her Majesty's birthday. Invitations to the garden party at the Convent have already been sent back.

As you will appreciate, the present political climate and specifically, The Queen's failure to visit The Rock, during this tercentenary year - simply not to offend Spanish 'sensitivities' - makes any attendance at, and celebration of, the said events, untenable.

You may well be aware that after Jack Straw's policy statement on joint - sovereignty of 12th. July 2002, The VOGG and SDGG carried out an action outside the HM Base gates. Your predecessor was informed that the good - will, which Gibraltarians have always afforded to the Ministry of Defence, would be prejudiced should the Foreign Secretary proceed with his 'intentions'. Someone, somewhere, must have taken this seriously, since the Foreign Affairs Select Committee deemed it important enough to quote our 'ultimatum', almost verbatim, in its report. Today, The Group maintains its stated position, notwithstanding its cordial exchange with Defence Minister Geoff Hoon, during his recent visit.

Whilst any change in sovereignty is anathema to most Gibraltarians, the 'red - line' in respect of HM Base is particularly offensive. Gibraltar runs from the frontier to Europa Point and is not divisible. Furthermore, the present uncertainties over the future of The Gibraltar Regiment and the MOD's local workforce add fuel to an already 'hot' situation, however much this is 'sweetened' by a 'land for peace' deal. Neither will pomp and ceremony lull anyone into a false sense of security.

The VOGG will hold a vigil on the day, as from 4pm until the start of the parade, outside the main public entrance to the stadium. It will then move to outside the governor's residence for the duration of the function there. A pertinent banner or placards will be displayed at both venues.

Nearer the date, The Group will issue a relevant press release.

Yours sincerely,