Last Thursday afternoon I walked down Main Street in the company of a well known politico and did a double take because walking towards us was the frame of Joe Holliday but surely it was somebody else. I asked my companion was it the former minister, he answered yes, I still wasn’t sure but he insisted it was. As they passed they exchanged muted greetings and indeed it was Joe Holliday.
Joe Holliday has always been a larger than life character but his face was of a man in shock. He has had a lot to be shocked about of late. He was dumped by the voters and then by his party as deputy leader: if the whispers in the corridors of power are true – there may be worst to come. I have always had a soft spot for Joe: what journalist could not love having a tourism minister called Holliday?
Now what has this got to do with Caruana? Simply this: I suspect he like his former right hand man is suffering from severe post-election shock. For as I passed the former minister the dumped chief minister was preparing to question his successor in Gibraltar’s Parliament. It was then in an effort to discredit Ernest Montado he wondered out loud if his appointment could favour the legal house of Hassan?
Ernest Montado is now acting, for free, as a consultant to the Government having for years severed as chief secretary with distinction. Caruana may be worried that Montado may spill many of the beans on his own years throwing phones around No 6: indeed is the former chief minister the Naomi Campbell of politics?
Yet Caruana’s reasoning lacks logic. The new chief minister, Fabian Picardo, was a senior partner at Hassans until elected last December. Hence if any impropriety were to take place Hassans didn’t need Montado they already had the head honcho on their side. However, and I here stress the however, Caruana had himself been a leading player in Triay & Triay before his own election. Furthermore his father-in-law is a senior legal eagle of that ilk. Surely nobody is suggesting that the Triay firm benefitted from Caruana’s long term in office – are they?
Far more to the point here is the role of the Feethams. When Caruana asked his bizarre question Daniel was sitting on his flank. Daniel Feetham is a partner at Hassans – does he believe his own firm will benefit from the appointment of Montado? Also a partner at Hassans is Nigel Feetham: an open GSD activist who may well have ambitions to join his brother in parliament. Does he support the word of his party leader?
The inference is they do not. In its statement Hassans said: “The suggestion implicit in Mr Caruana’s statement is unwarranted and unfair to both Hassans and Mr Montado. The Partners of Hassans consider it to be unjustified and unbecoming of Mr Caruana to have called into question the professional integrity and motivation of this Firm, and of Mr Montado, in whom we have complete confidence. Mr Caruana’s statement is entirely unprovoked and unacceptable and he should therefore withdraw it.”
The point here is that the Feethams, as partners in Hassans “consider it to be unjustified and unbecoming of Mr Caruana to have called into question the professional integrity and motivation of this Firm, and of Mr Montado.” Hence we have the deputy leader of the GSD and a leading party guru openly telling their party leader, Peter Caruana, that he has acted in an “unjustified and unbecoming” manner. Well that must be a first in this neck of the woods!
The logical conclusion is that the Feethams should resign from the GSD in protest at their legal firm being trashed or that Caruana should immediately stand down from his post. Rumour says he will go shortly anyway: better sooner rather than latter because whilst he is there in body his keen mind seems elsewhere. Now where have I seen that before?
(Photo: Sir Joshua Hassan – A QC and Gibraltar’s distinguished chief minister)