THE chief minister is fighting back over claims that his government protected drug smugglers and money launderers.
Lawyers acting for Fabian Picardo have launched a legal battle against right wing Spanish association Manos Limpias over statements made earlier this summer.
On its website the group claimed that Picardo was ‘protecting money laundering, smuggling and drug trafficking’.
It continued: “We are not accusing him of being behind the crimes but of protecting and tolerating them, of not stopping them.”
Picardo’s lawyers claim the website defamed and damaged his reputation, causing him “considerable hurt, distress and embarrassment.”
Manos Limpias failed to respond to a request for an apology, a retraction and an offer of damages in summer with Miguel Bernard, secretary general of Manos Limpias, commenting: “We are not going to let ourselves be blackmailed.”
He added: “Who does this individual think he is? He is on another planet, we are not his slaves. Who is he to order us to withdraw our accusations? He thinks he is a prince on his little bit of land.”
A claim form and detailed particulars of the case have now been filed in the Supreme Court in Gibraltar by Mr Picardo’s lawyers, Hassans.
The documentation includes certified Spanish translations of all the documents, which will be served on the defendants in Madrid.
Mr Picardo’s lawyers want the court to issue a restraining order preventing further publication of the claims, as well as damages for libel.
The row started after Manos Limpias alleged Gibraltar was in breach of EU environmental law when it began construction of an artificial reef this summer.
Manos Limpias achieved some notoriety in the international press after filing a lawsuit against the controversial investigating judge Baltasar Garzon.
The group was outraged that the left wing judge was attempting to get a new law that investigated the extremes of the far right during the Spanish Civil War.
Ironically Garzon and Picardo have become friends over recent months and Garzon is also now advising him on how to deal with the Spanish government and other threats.