‘Political leaders putting out inaccurate information to voters at this stage is truly inexcusable’ – James Brenig
The Save Babies Vote No campaign have said that the video message issued by Chief Minister Fabian Picardo on Saturday night which encouraged the people of Gibraltar to vote for abortion on Thursday contains inaccurate information.
The Chief Minister’s statement was issued as part of a joint video message from three politicians. During the video, Mr. Picardo said: ‘It is absolutely not true for you to be told that the new abortion law that we are proposing would permit people to have an abortion up to nine months. That is a lie. It’s the current law that permits abortion up to nine months. The new law restricts abortion to 12 weeks”
Noting that Mr Picardo’s video statement differed from what the news release issued from Parliament recorded him as saying, spokesperson James Brenig said:
“Since the video was posted, the Save Babies Vote No campaign has taken legal advice and we believe that what the Chief Minister stated in the video is inaccurate and misleading.”
The specifics of the charges being made by the Save Babies Vote NO Campaign against Mr. Picardo are laid out in more detail in a complaint filed earlier today with Referendum Administrator, Paul Martinez (copy complaint below).
Mr Brenig said that while there was disappointment from many supporters that political leaders had come together to back one side of the referendum, the issue that the information broadcast was inaccurate is much more fundamental.
“With only days until the referendum, when voters are starting to take more notice of what is being said, putting out inaccurate information is simply inexcusable.
“We believe this incident does a great disservice to the democratic process and a great disservice to the voters of our community and we are calling on the Referendum Administrator to take immediate action to correct the situation and that he ask the chief minister to immediately retract his statement.
“In the meantime, we encourage voters to get all the facts about the proposed law on our website, www.chooselife.gi and to come out in great numbers to save babies and vote NO on Thursday.”
Note: Please find downloadable link to our video response to Picardo statement here
Mr. Paul E Martinez
156 Main Street
By hand delivery and email
Re/ Request for immediate action following inaccurate information published on the legal effect of the proposed amendments to the Crimes Act 2011
Dear Mr. Martinez,
I am writing to you to draw your attention to a very concerning development in the Referendum Campaign which we hope you will be able to investigate and act on as a matter of urgency.
You will be aware that on Saturday evening, 19th June 2021, a post was published on the Gibraltar For Yes social media platforms which consisted of a video message from Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, Dr Joseph Garcia, and Marlene Hassan Nahon MP.
Having taken legal advice, we are firmly of the view that the statement issued therein by the Chief Minister is inaccurate and likely to interfere with the proper conduct of the referendum and we ask you to urgently take action in the matter and to issue a clarification to the people of Gibraltar.
Mr. Picardo said the following:
“It is absolutely not true for you to be told that the new abortion law that we are proposing would permit people to have an abortion up to nine months. That is a lie. It’s the current law that permits abortion up to nine months.
The new law restricts abortion to 12 weeks”.
There are two reasons why this statement is demonstrably false.
(i) As to the first claim in the quote above, the proposed Crimes (Amendment) Act 2019 at section 3 (d) [which if adopted will add a new section 163A(1)(d) to the current Crimes Act 2011] will introduce abortion up to nine months into the law of Gibraltar for entirely new grounds than those which arguably exist under the existing law (R -v- Bourne  3 All ER 615 and existing provisions of the Crimes Act 2011).
(ii) As to the second claim, the new law does not restrict abortion to 12 weeks, as stated by the Chief Minister. The legislation permits abortion up until 12 weeks on wide-ranging grounds (Section 3(a)). In addition, it introduces in legislation a provision that allows abortion on grounds of physical and mental health of a woman without a time limit, therefore, possible up to nine months. Put simply, the Chief Minister’s claim is that the new law brings abortion time limits down to 12 weeks – however, the Bill introduces into statute provision that permits abortion up to 12 weeks in one subsection and without any time limit (possible up to full term or 9 months) in other subsections.
Given the fundamental importance of next week’s vote, touching as it does the long-established right to life in Gibraltar, and the fact that the people of Gibraltar expect accurate information from political leaders, we are calling on you to immediately issue a statement correcting and publicly rectifying the Chief Minister’s statement. We urge you to consult the Attorney General as Her Majesty’s principal law officer in Gibraltar and in view of the urgency are copying this email to him also.
Further, we request that the Chief Minister be asked to publicly retract the statement and that all references to it be removed from social media platforms of the Gibraltar For Yes campaign, GBC News and any other public broadcasting medium where it has appeared.
I look forward to hearing from you as a matter of urgency.
Cc: Michael Llamas Esq CMG; QC