A major storm has blown over a statement by Together Gibraltar which said that the Government had issued 'public sector gagging order months before a general election.' It is so that such a policy document was issued internally but it appears that the civil service may have put their foot in it. 

The statement from Together Gibraltar made the point that the Government’s published Social Media Policy was 'excessive and nefarious in its scope'.

And added: 'It fails even to mention -let alone respect- Government employees’ right to freedom of expression under s10 of the Constitution. It is a disproportionate restriction on the rights of Government employees -a very significant percentage of our population. In addition, the fact that this policy comes into force only months before a general election, makes the timing and nature of the policy all the more suspect'.


But the Government lost no time in clarifying the situation, saying that ‘Last week’s Social Media policy document was issued before a full internal consultation had taken place. Its publication came as a surprise to the Chief Minister who has requested a full review of this policy.’

Meanwhile, the GGCA Executive Committee welcomed the press statement made by Together Gibraltar in relation to the Social Media Policy recently published by the Government of Gibraltar.

It added: 'Although the Social Media Policy does lie within the remit of General Orders, Industrial Regulations and the Official Secrets Act 1911 to 1929, we feel that the application of the same can sometimes be draconian and lead to situations of unfairness. We note at least one occasion where a member has been disciplined for a comment on social media wholly unrelated to his/her area of work.

'Therefore, we feel that it would be a great step forward in the interests of freedom of expression for the application of the Social Media Policy to be reduced in scope and to focus on the areas of work of each grade and each department, thereby ensuring minimum levels of censorship for both civil and public servants.'


In fact,certain observations are being made, such as if the document had not been fully cleared before it was leaked, could it indicate that there are strange goings-on in the civil service, and questions are being asked if the political government can trust the performance of the civil service as a whole, not only in this area but in other areas as well.

For its part Together Gibraltar's statement went on to recall that in a video the Chief Minister made in 2011, months before being elected into office, he spoke about the problem of perceived censorship being more acute in the civil service and how he vowed to change it. But his Government’s policy will turn that perception he warned of, into a regulation.

'The policy is addressed to “all employees”. We recognise that senior civil servants in political departments need to refrain from public commentary on political controversy.

'But a non-partisan civil service does not require the same level of restriction on every government employee. A fire fighter or a teacher, a doctor or a nurse – or those in nonpolitical leadership roles – for example, a head teacher or university head – should be free to take part in public debate. Their knowledge, their experience, is valuable.

'Politicians should want to heed healthy public debate, not close it off,' said the political party.

The policy document bans government employees from discussion of matters of current or potential political controversy, “whether local or international”.


Further, added the political party, this policy will expose to retribution any Government employee commenting unfavourably on any aspect of Government, even in wholly-unrelated departments. This is something, which this Government is on record for complaining about when they were in Opposition about how the GSD operated when they were in Government, said Together Gibraltar, adding that it recognises the importance of a non-partisan civil service. But we also recognise the importance of allowing free and proper public debate about Gibraltar’s political life.