Fabian Picardo

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The Honourable
Fabian Picardo
MP
Fabian Picardo in London (portrait).jpg
7th Chief Minister of Gibraltar
Incumbent
Assumed office
9 December 2011
Monarch Elizabeth II
Governor Adrian Johns
James Dutton
Preceded by Peter Caruana
Personal details
Born (1972-02-18) February 18, 1972 (age 42)[1]
Gibraltar
Political party Gibraltar Socialist Labour Party
Spouse(s) Justine Olivero (m.2011)
Children Sebastian
Alma mater Oriel College, Oxford
Website Official website

Fabian Picardo QC (born February 18, 1972) is a Gibraltarian politician and barrister. In April 2011, he was elected as leader of the Gibraltar Socialist Labour Party, replacing long term leader Joe Bossano. In December 2011, he was elected Chief Minister of Gibraltar, replacing Sir Peter Caruana.

Early life[edit]

Picardo was born into a humble, working-class family and schooled in Gibraltar. He worked hard at the local Comprehensive School and went to one of the UK’s most distinguished colleges-universities: Oriel College at Oxford University where he studied law. This is the same university as attended by the UK Prime Minister David Cameron (Brasenose College)and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne (Magdalen College) some years earlier. In 1993, he graduated with a degree in Jurisprudence from Oriel College. He attended the Inns of Court School of Law at Gray's Inn and was called to the Bar in 1994. He is also a Member of the Middle Temple. Speaking of his upbringing Picardo has stated: “I am the product of that upbringing. I understand what it is like when people don’t have jobs and I consider myself a worker. My parents worked very hard indeed to enable me to become a professional; and I won’t allow anything to go to my head and make me think I am better than any other worker or anything other than a worker, especially as Chief Minister.”

Legal profession[edit]

Like many Gibraltarians, once he had achieved his qualification he returned to the Rock and joined the Hassans International Law Firm in 1994 where he was a partner for over 10 years only stepping down after being elected Chief Minister. Fabian Picardo also ran the Hassans summer school programme. He has appeared in numerous courts for Gibraltar including the Privy Council and European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. He was called to the Bar in Gibraltar, the British Virgin Islands and has worked extensively in Commonwealth countries.

Political career[edit]

In 1991, Fabian Picardo was one of the founders of the Gibraltar National Party now the Liberal Party. However, in 2003 he left the Liberal Party and joined the GSLP. That year he stood as a GSLP candidate in Gibraltar’s General Election and was duly elected as an MP. Picardo quickly made his mark in the GSLP and with voters. In his first election he came second to party leader Joe Bossano in the GSLP list, third in the GSLP/Liberal list (after Liberal leader Dr Joseph Garcia). In his second election he came second to Bossano in the whole GSLP/Liberal list. He took over the leadership of the GSLP from Joe Bossano in April 2011 when the veteran socialist leader stood down (although he remains an MP and is the Minister for Employment in the current Government). In December 2011 Picardo led the GSLP Liberal coalition in to Government and is now Gibraltar’s seventh Chief Minister. Dr Joseph Garcia has been leader of the GNP and now Gibraltar’s Liberals since the parties’ inception and hence during the period when Fabian Picardo was a member. This ensured they have developed a very close, dynamic working and personal relationship in government with Dr Garcia currently holding the post of Deputy Chief Minister.

Gibraltar's European vote[edit]

The fact that Gibraltarians enjoy a vote in the European Parliament and have done so since the 2004 election is down to the determination of the GSD Government who engaged the skills of the legal team led by Michael Llamas in the Denise Matthews case, which was financed by the Government under Sir Peter Caruana. Gibraltarians had been denied the right to vote and Fabian Picardo was amongst those who fiercely fought the Rock’s corner at the European Court of Human Rights achieving victory in 1999. At the time he was a junior lawyer in that team and was delighted to be working, even when he was still doing his Bar finals in London, with two people who he respect hugely, namely Michael Llamas QC - who was the person who identified the opportunity and drove the case, and Lewis Baglietto. Picardo says he is delighted to call them both friends and Michael Llamas QC is currently the Gibraltar Government’s legal officer.

Asked why he became a lawyer and a politician Picardo replied: “As a young man I always saw the legal profession as one of the safeguards of the rule of law and the rights of individual citizens against the state. In particular, I was aware of lawyers locally who helped working class people and who didn’t charge them. I am delighted to have become a partner in such a man’s firm, that man being Sir Joshua Hassan QC. From that perception of one aspect of what the practice of the law can be it was a small step to becoming actively involved in politics, in particular in defence of our struggle as a people.”

Political philosophy[edit]

As soon as Fabian Picardo was elected leader of the GSLP in April 2011 he set out his political philosophy in a forthright manner. He stated: “I have a desire to be part of the defence of our sovereignty against the aggression we face every day from our ‘friendly neighbour’ and those here on the Rock who do not understand the simple words “No Surrender”. No surrender of our right to open government, no surrendering of our duties to care for our people, no surrender to the concept that Gibraltarians should find dignified jobs, no surrender of our hopes and dreams for Gibraltar and certainly no surrender of our sovereignty on land or sea.”

As Chief Minister[edit]

Fabian Picardo at his office in 6 Convent Place.

Since Fabian Picardo became Chief Minister there has been a profound change in the perception of Gibraltar internationally. Links with the United Kingdom have never been stronger with Prime Minister David Cameron and Foreign Secretary William Hague standing side by side with Gibraltar against the current aggression from Spain and in defending the right of Gibraltarians to self determine their own future. Picardo Gibraltar’s first Chief Minister to have been invited to a number of one to one meetings with the Prime Minister at No 10 Downing Street as well as keeping in close contact with Hague and his Foreign Office team. Gibraltar now attends all the sessions of the UN’s Fourth Committee, as did his predecessor Sir Peter Caruana and Committee of 24 in New York where Picardo robustly puts his country’s case for delisting from the UN’s list of colonies. He also attended Barack Obama’s second inauguration as President in Washington in 2012 and has opened up links with the US administration and Congressional leaders. As part of mainland Europe Gibraltar is very pro-EU. Fabian Picardo plays an active role in supporting Gibraltar in Brussels at both the EC and EU as well as at the European Parliament. Picardo has a clear vision for Gibraltar: “I am in politics because I believe in protecting the Gibraltar that I grew up in and making it stronger in the international community of nations. I want to see the quality of life of Gibraltarians improve and I want to see Gibraltar stay British as a guarantee for our future in respect of education, the rule of law and the quality of our democracy.”

In government[edit]

Picardo’s GSLP Liberal Government was elected in 2011, winning by the narrowest margin ever in Gibraltar elections on the basis of a very ambitious manifesto that was ambitious for the future of Gibraltar. The Government has been delivering on some of its manifesto promises and its popularity was reflected in a by-election victory in July 2013 which saw the GSLP candidate win with 50 per cent of the vote and a ten per cent majority over the GSD. However there has been sharp criticism in Gibraltar over Picardo's misleading the Gibraltar Parliament and for his Government often refusing point blank to answer legitimate questions posed by the Opposition MP's. The campaign by the Partido Popular Government against Gibraltar, which started in August 2013, has seen a major increase in the support for the rights of the people of Gibraltar. Picardo, along with the British Government, has made it plain he will stand up for and defend Gibraltar yet he has constantly made it clear he is fully prepared to put animosity aside and to engage in discussions with Spain on shared problems and opportunities for the benefit of both communities.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Joe Bossano
Leader of the Gibraltar Socialist Labour Party
2011–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Peter Caruana
Chief Minister of Gibraltar
2011–present
Incumbent