EX-CHIEF SECRETARY MONTADO NOT CC CLAIMANT

Staff January 13, 2022

EX-CHIEF SECRETARY MONTADO NOT CC CLAIMANT

In our edition of 23rd December 2021, we carried a story about the Independent Charity Community Care. That article referred to a former Chief Secretary having been a claimant for the payments made to Community Officers (men between the ages of 60 and 65). We have received a letter from former, highly regarded, Chief Secretary, Ernest Montado CBE, which clarifies that he is not the person who made such a claim for Community Officer benefits from the Trustees of the Charity. We have no difficulty in printing this letter (below), as requested by Mr Montado, and apologising to him for any confusion that may have resulted in anyone thinking he was the claimant referred to. We are equally pleased to give this letter the same prominence as was given to the article in question. Although we have not been asked to say so, this newspaper is happy to state that it considers that Ernest Montado has been an exemplary Civil Servant. He has been very highly regarded by those who he has worked alongside and the public, as well as the successive political leaders under whom he led the Civil Service.

Dear Mr Editor,

In your front page leader “ Jester or Clown” published on 23 December 2021, you criticized the stance adopted by the Community Care Action Group, in particular that of Mr Joseph Capurro, and explained that their campaign was partly spawned by the greed evident amongst those with high occupational pensions, notably retired civil servants, policemen, customs officers etc who claimed the Community Care Officer allowance. I agree with that criticism. But, the article then goes on to state the following, and I quote “ People on hefty occupational pensions, a few on over one grand a week, some who have also combined the occupational pension with consultancy work, a consultancy spat that was terminated when higher authority realized that it was totally unnecessary and just a way of scrounging more money from the taxpayer. All of this is very much part of the entitlement culture that once even reached Chief Secretary level. We had a Chief Secretary, until lately, tapping Community Care ( CO) allowance. A guy on an extraordinary pension”. In so far as I am concerned ,as a former Chief Secretary, I cannot allow these comments to go unchallenged. I consider them to capable of being wrongly interpreted in a manner which is offensive and which questions my integrity and reputation. I am therefore replying immediately on the same day in which you have published the article.There are only three retired Chief Secretaries and a fourth, an Assistant, who acted temporarily in post for a short period. The three Chief Secretaries were myself ( in post for 22 years), Mr Richard Garcia ( in post for around 4 years) and Mr Ernesto Gomez ( in post for around 6 years). The Assistant who acted temporarily as Chief Secretary was Mr Richard Armstrong ( covering some 18 months). In a small place like Gibraltar, it is not difficult for people to identify this and sometimes , possibly reach mistaken conclusions. So, when your writer chose to make the statement which I have quoted above, that person should have had the decency as a journalist and the courage of his convictions to state explicitly who is this “ guy on an extraordinary pension” or who “ also combined the occupational pension with consultancy work”.The deliberate omission to name which of the Chief Secretaries the article refers to ,could, by implication, insinuation or innuendo, refer to myself simply because of the comparative longevity of my record in the post of Chief Secretary. I am therefore obliged to state categorically that I have never claimed or obtained the Community Care Officer Allowance. Indeed, upon retirement in 2007, I took on a full time job with a local law firm and I continue to work for them on a retainer basis. I can also make clear that , as was made public in a Government Press ReleaseI at the time, I agreed to take on consultancy work at the request of the Government shortly after it was first elected in 2011. I have undertaken limited work pro bono, that is , for no charge whatsoever, as a matter of public duty. The only exception to this was when the previous Chief Minister asked me in 2007 to draft the Government’s submission to the Public Inquiry held over the matter of Chief Justice Schofield. Even then, the amount charged ( some £3000+) was not paid to me but was raised by my employer to offset the cost to them of my absence from work. I have never charged, let alone scrounged ( as the article describes) a penny from the taxpayer.I cannot speak for the other two retired Chief Secretaries who followed from me ,nor the temporary acting Chief Secretary, regarding their position in allegedly claiming the Community Care Officer allowance or in undertaking paid consultancy work. That is for them to say or not say. I must therefore ask you to publish this letter in full on your front page ( as was your leader article) by way of correction and apology. That said, I am taking legal advice and reserve all my rights in this matter.

Ernest Montado

 

 

  

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Staff January 13, 2022