UK Politics

UK to protest to Spain over Gibraltar armed stand-off

The Rock of Gibraltar
Image caption Spain has repeatedly challenged British sovereignty in Gibraltar's waters

The UK is to protest to the Spanish government "at a high level" after an armed stand-off in Gibraltarian territorial waters.

The Ministry of Defence has accused a Guardia Civil patrol boat of "manoeuvring in a provocative and dangerous manner in the vicinity of Royal Navy vessels".

No shots were fired in the incident.

But there was a minor collision between the Spanish vessel and a Gibraltar Defence Police boat.

The incident happened on Wednesday while the Gibraltar Squadron was providing force protection to a Royal Navy Fleet Auxiliary tanker in Gibraltarian territorial waters.

According to the Gibraltar Chronicle, the Spanish patrol boat Rio Tormes sailed too close to a Royal Navy vessel after breaching a security cordon off the British territory.

Armed crew members on HMS Scimitar ordered the Spanish vessel to leave the area but the Guardia Civil vessel reportedly ignored the warning, resulting in a stand-off.

Speaking in the House of Lords on Thursday, Conservative peer Baroness Hooper said "guns were pointed at each other" during Wednesday's incident.

Asked to confirm this, a Foreign Office spokesman said the Royal Navy crew had followed "appropriate operational procedures".

The spokesman confirmed that "there was an incident" and that it would be "raised at a high level with the Spanish government".

Business minister Lord Ahmad told Lady Hooper he would write to her with the "full facts" about the incident.

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