HMS Westminster arrives in Gibraltar as tensions build in sovereignty row

Arrival of warship seen by some as a "strong symbol" of Britain's desire to defend its territory

A Royal Navy warship has arrived in Gibraltar the day after a stand-off between fishermen and the Royal Gibraltar Police.

HMS Westminster arrived and docked in the British territory as tensions in the region were described as the worst for 40 years.

The visit of the warship is said not to be related to the current row and is part of a long-planned deployment of a number of vessels to the Mediterranean and the Gulf.

Coming as it does at a sensitive moment for British-Spanish relations the move has been seen by some as a "strong symbol" of Britain's desire to defend its territory.

Yesterday Spanish fisherman shouting “Gibraltar is Spanish” confronted patrol boats from the Rock in protest at an artificial concrete reef put there by the government. Spanish fishermen say the reef hampers their right to fish while Gibraltar says they should not be fishing there.

Irate fishermen from neighbouring towns of Algeciras and La Linea say they have fished in waters adjacent to Gibraltar for years, and have lost earnings of €1.5m since 24 July, when the blocks were put in place.

During the protest police boats were forced to push back a flotilla of around 40 Spanish vessels.

As part of the the tit-for-tat row Spain has also introduced extra border checks causing five-hour queues for drivers trying to cross the border and has threatened to bring in a £40 charge.

The tensions between Spain, Britain and Gibraltar have led Prime Minister David Cameron to complain to his Spanish counterpart Mariano Rajoy and ask for the European Commission to intervene.

The arrival of HMS Westminster, a Type 23 frigate, which is accompanied by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships Lyme Bay and Mounts Bay, is likely to be a further complicating factor in the escalating row.

The group of ships, called Cougar 13, set sail from for the Mediterranean from Portsmouth and Plymouth last week. They are scheduled to dock at ports in the Mediterranean en route to the Middle East, with one warship visiting the Spanish naval base at Rota near Cadiz.

A Spanish Guardia Civil patrol boat passed close to the military area of Gibraltar harbour not long after HMS Westminster arrived this morning.

The Spanish boat passed outside the harbour walls in Gibraltar Bay before speeding off when a police launch approached it.

Julie Girling, a Conservative MEP for Gibraltar, called yesterday's flotilla a "provocative attempt to stir things up yet again" by a government in Madrid facing allegations of corruption.

"We need to find a way to make all this stop," she said.

"This has been an extended period (of border controls) and people seem to be worried that with the difficulties the Spanish Government has at home they are not going to stop, they are going to keep pushing.

"What we would like to see is the European Commission saying 'this is not proportionate'."

The floating protest was also met by Spanish Guardia Civil boats, which warned them not to sail too close to the British territory's reef.

Fabian Picardo, Gibraltar's chief minister, thanked the authorities for their help.

Mr Picardo, who has reportedly received death threats and been targeted by Spanish internet trolls, wrote on Twitter: "Big thank you also to Royal Navy, Gib Defence Police, HM Customs and Port Authority for their deployment too.

"Cool, professional and calm!"

In a statement the Gibraltar government said that its decision to create the reef had the backing of Greenpeace and Spanish environmental groups.

"HM Government of Gibraltar notes that the protest demonstrated the concerns of the Spanish fishermen of the La Linea and Algeciras 'Cofradias.' These Spanish fishermen are welcome to continue to fish in British Gibraltar Territorial Waters as long as they do so in keeping with Gibraltar law," it said.

"The British Gibraltar Territorial Waters, as defined under the United Nations Law of the Sea, are recognised by all signatories except the Kingdom of Spain."

Edward Macquisten, chief executive of the Gibraltar Chamber of Commerce, told Sky News the row has set relations between Spain and the territory back 40 years.

Additional reporting by the Press Association

Suggested Topics
News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
News
Sabina Altynbekova has said she wants to be famous for playing volleyball, not her looks
people
News
i100
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star