Thursday, September 08, 2005

UK shadow Minister arrested after Frontier fracas

Lord Glentoran detained for assault at Gibraltar / Spain FrontierLord Glentoran, Conservative Shadow Minister for Northern Ireland in the House of Lords, was arrested with his wife on Tuesday evening following a scuffle with Guardia Civil officers at the border.

Three guards required medical attention after an alleged tussle with both the 70 year old Tory peer, a former athlete who won a gold medal in the bobsleigh event at the 1964 Winter Olympics, and his 57-year old wife.

The incident took place just before 8pm on Tuesday when the two were making their way into Spain after arriving in Gibraltar on the evening GB Airways flight from Gatwick.

According to official Spanish sources, both appeared to have been drinking and became abusive after being asked to register two bottles of whiskey and two cartons of cigarettes on customs forms, a standard procedure at the Gibraltar border.

Three Guardia Civil officers intervened and were allegedly set upon by Lord Glentoran and his wife.

The three Spanish guards reportedly sustained injuries including bruising to the neck, arms and legs, while Lord Glentoran’s wife suffered an injury to her arm.

Before he was detained the Tory peer, who was unharmed, was said to have attempted to dash away toward Gibraltar in a bid to escape the scene, official Spanish sources told the Chronicle. But he was stopped before he could reach British soil.

The married couple were taken from the border post to the Guardia Civil headquarters in La Linea.

Another Spanish source said Lord Glentoran made a phone call at some point during this period. It is not clear whom he contacted but the outcome was that the British consul in Málaga was dispatched to La Linea and arrived at around midnight.

With the help of two Spain-based lawyers, the two were released from detention to appear in court yesterday morning.

Lord Glentoran and his wife, who are believed to own a home in Sotogrande, appeared in No 3 court in La Linea yesterday and could face charges of assault, resisting arrest and disobeying officials.

They were granted conditional release but the case remains open.

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London confirmed that Lord Glentoran and his wife had been briefly detained on Tuesday evening in relation to the incident at the border between Gibraltar and Spain.

He also confirmed that they had “voluntarily” appeared in court yesterday morning.
“No charges in relation to the incident have been made at the present time,” the spokesman said. “The decision by the judge is not likely to be made for some time.”

Lord Glentoran first entered the House of Lords in 1995 and has been a Shadow Minister for Northern Ireland since 1999. From 2001 to 2003, he was also a Shadow Minister for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The Tory peer was not among the British parliamentarians invited by the Government of Gibraltar to attend this weekend’s National Day celebrations.

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