SCOTLAND'S PAPERS

A "poor catering service", one of the reasons that originated the dismissal of Spain's Consul in Scotland

The administrative file of Spain's Foreign Office regarding Mr. Vecino questions Mr. Borrell's Department initial version of the reasons behind the dismissal, based on the fact that he exceeded his functions as consul by making political demonstrations.

Miguel Ángel Vecino y Nicola Sturgeon.
Miguel Ángel Vecino y Nicola Sturgeon.

The dismissal of the Spanish Consul in Edinburgh, Mr. Miguel Angel Vecino, began with a catering service that was "quite poor and of very bad quality". Oddly enough, the administrative record sent by Spain's Foreign Office last 16th October to the Superior Court of Justin of Madrid (TSJM) which analyzes the diplomat's claim against his dismissal, does not include any mention of the fact that he exceeded his functions by making political demonstrations.

This alleged "overstepping of his powers" as Consul was the main argument used by Mr. Josep Borrell's department as a justification of the dismissal of Mr. Vecino last June. The cessation of the Spanish Consul in Edinburgh took place shortly after Spain's Foreign Office learnt that a letter from Mr. Vecino had appeared in the Scottish press, in which he talked about Spain's position on a hypothetical independent Scotland asking for EU membership.

In the document submitted to the TSJM, to which Vozpopuli has gained access, the Spanish Foreign Office indicates that were"other reasons" that also led to the dismissal of Mr. Vecino. The first one was the complaint they received from the director of IberDocs - the Ibero-American Documentary Cinema Society in Scotland- Ms. Mar Felices Gonzalez, who sent a letter to Madrid lamenting the "inappropriate behaviour for a first-rate diplomatic figure", referring to Mr. Vecino.

A beer that never got served

"In general, the catering service was quite scarce and poor quality, both the drink and the food". This is how Ms. Gonzalez described a February reception that took place at the Spanish consulate headquarters in Edinburgh for the annual edition of IberoDocs. "Without a doubt, the economic in-kind support was not even close to the 500 pounds -580 euros at the exchange rate- that the Consul had promised to offer to the festival for this event," she said.

"I managed to drink a glass of wine. I even had to ask the waiters if they could serve a beer to a journalist present at the even. A drink that never got served", Ms. Gonzalez said.

The administrative record sent by Mr. Borrell's Foreign Office also includes the resignation letter sent by Spain's Honorary Consul in the city of Aberdeen, Mr. Ignacio Chanzá, after seven years in office. In the missive, the diplomat regrets that the treatment Mr. Vecino gave his subordinates in Edinburgh "did not respect, by any means, their professional dignity".

A few days before Mr. Vecino's controversial letter was published in the Scottish press -that according to the former Consul was supposed to be private- Spain's Foreign Office received another letter. It was signed by several employees of the Edinburgh consulate and it mentioned "situations of harassment, defamation and professional disrepute" from the consul, although no evidence was provided.

The law firm Cámara&Villalba, the one in charge of drafting Mr. Vecino's lawsuit, shows its surprise to Vozpopuli when it notes that Spain's Foreign Office does not mention in the documents submitted to the TSJM the alleged "overstepping of powers" performed by Mr. Vecino. Instead, it only includes "the two complaints received by the Ministry" as the main justification for the dismissal.

Scotland's Transparency Act

Mr. Vecino's dismissal took place on the 6th of June, shortly after The National published the letter in which the diplomat assured that the Spanish Government would not veto Scotland's entry as an independent country to the EU. Interestingly, the letter had not been sent to The National, but to another newspaper - The Herald - which in mid-April had decided not to publish it as it was a private letter.

Its content, however, reached the Scottish Government, which asked the Spanish Consul for a copy of it, as was supposed to summarize the official position of Pedro Sánchez's Executive. The Spanish diplomat agreed to this on the condition that it would not be made public, but the Scottish Transparency Act obliged Nicola Sturgeon's Executive to confirm its existence after receiving a petition from a journalist from The National. Consequently, Mr. Vecino blames the Scottish Government for "acting in bad faith" in this matter.

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