The Foreign Office reacted strongly to the 5 October 2014 serious incursion into British Gibraltar Territorial Waters (BGTW) by a Spanish state research vessel. In response to the incident, the Minister for Europe, the Rt Hon David Lidington MP, earlier called Spanish Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Gonzalo de Benito to express his grave concern.
The irresponsible actions and dangerous maneuvering of this vessel were not only unlawful but also presented a significant risk to the safety of Royal Navy personnel at sea. Under no circumstances should Spanish vessels be provoking a situation that could result in serious injury or a fatality, said Mr Lidington.
The waters around Gibraltar are indisputably British. We will continue to take whatever action we consider necessary to uphold British sovereignty and the interests of Gibraltar, its people, its security and economy.
Finally Lidington said that the British Government takes very seriously any attempt by Spain to exert authority or control within British Gibraltar Territorial Waters and considers such incursions as a violation of UK sovereignty.
However, the legal fact of the United Kingdom’s sovereignty over British Gibraltar Territorial Waters is not affected by such violations.