CORRUPTION (In Gibraltar)

*What is there for an Anti-Corruption Authority to look into
*Now the Financial Secretary, and Principal Auditor are responsible
*Defamation law restricts ability to report but generalities can be explored
*Witness protection paramount
*use of public money for party political purposes needs investigation
*Consultants at public expense should not work for party political ends. *loyalties as between private and public interests need to be separated. *financial reward of social media activists and earnings from public sources need investigation
*Development property availability at public cost and its allocation needs inquiry
*Do we have sinecures or consultants
*Elected government should act and avoid possible embarrassment

ACTION NEEDED

Many ask what it is that any Anti-Corruption Authority that is set up might want to investigate. Such an Authority has been promised in many a manifesto but no action to establish one has ever been taken. It is an omission that alone says much. Is the fear of what might transpire that great?

In the absence of an Anti-Corruption Authority, the Financial Secretary and Principal Auditor have all got responsibilities to fulfil in this area.

Defamation law make it difficult for any detailed possible complaints to be voiced now, but generalities can and should be aired without those containing direct or implied accusations against anyone specifically.

There are many areas that would require investigation, and often those are talked about in whispers over many a coffee or drink.

Protection of complainants and witnesses is a paramount concern that would need to be dealt with in any laws.

Our democratically elected government should keep manifesto promises and avoid any embarrassment being caused by the possibility (however remote) of direct action from the UK in exercise of the Governor’s responsibility for internal security.

WHAT COULD BE INVESTIGATED

It is possible to give some generalised examples of what might be investigated by an Anti-Corruption Authority. Those follow in no order of importance.

One important defence that is needed in any democracy is the ring fencing of the use of public money from use for party political purposes.

Public money must be used only for public purposes as authorised by law. In this age of social media, for example, it may be right to spend on monitoring social media to ensure that the public good and law and order is maintained. It is not right that any such information should be used by anyone for party political ends.

Enlarging on that example, all public servants, whether employed directly or engaged as consultants, are employed/engaged to undertake public duties as authorised and permitted by law. There should be none who are paid for from public sources working for party political ends. As soon as that line is broken democracy starts to fail and corruption can creep in.

Another is the separation of loyalties as between private and public interests.

Those in public life with professions and businesses should not be earning from those professions and businesses if public contracts are involved in the profitability of those professional firms and businesses. It is so unless the procurement processes are so open and secure that there can be and is no abuse. The legal profession immediately comes to mind as hundreds of thousands of pounds of government legal work is allocated to firms in the private sector without any openness, transparency or tendering.

Additionally, the financial connection between keyboard warriors on social media and direct or indirect earnings from public sources raises interesting questions that should be looked into.

Another is the reallocation of public properties to free them up for new developments to be undertaken by developers having direct or indirect connections with politicians. The entire field of property development raises many questions that should be answered.

The need for and manner of selection of consultants to government is another area that requires attention.

Are they needed? Who are they? What connections do they have with people in government? How much and who decides what they get paid? Are they value for money? Who do they take instructions from? What supervision is in place? Is their function for the public good, or is it party political? If it is party political, why is the public purse paying?

Are any consultants simply political sinecures? A sinecure is “a position needing little or no work but giving the holder status or financial benefit.” Many think that sinecures exist.

WITNESS PROTECTION IS PARAMOUNT

Any investigations into allegations of corruption would only be possible if complaints could be made in absolute privacy and secrecy. Additionally, all verbal, written, and documentary evidence would need to be taken confidentially and with anonymity.

Those protections need to be supported by serious breaches attracting heavy criminal consequences. There are precedents of the type of supporting laws needed in other Common Law jurisdictions, which would include the availability of immunity.

INTERNAL SECURITY

Clearly, in a mature democracy the elected government should act in support of manifesto promises. Intervention from the Governor would be a huge embarrassment, so let our elected government act responsibly and pass much needed laws.

The whole issue of corruption, however, goes to the core of internal security. It is the constitutional responsibility of the UK through the Governor to safeguard internal security. Our elected government alone can act to avoid the possibility (however remote) of such an embarrassing intervention happening.

We will wait and see, but one thing is clear external involvement in any such Authority is required, otherwise the same issues as are the subject of whispers alleging corruption will attach to any Anti-Corruption Authority.

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