As tensions rise, former Royal Marine chief becomes Governor of Gibraltar
A former Royal Marine general who served in the Falklands and was the deputy head of Nato forces in Afghanistan, has been appointed the Governor of Gibraltar.
Lieutenant General Sir James Dutton - known as Jim - will start in December as the official representative of the Queen.
Although largely a ceremonial position, the appointment comes with Britain and Spain locked in a diplomatic spat over the Madrid government’s imposition of border checks in a row over fishing rights.
Sir James had a series of stints in Iraq starting with his leadership of Plymouth-based 3 Commando Brigade during the 2003 US-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein. during this time he became the first British officer to lead American troops - from the US Marine Corps - since the Second World War.
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He served in Afghanistan as the deputy head of the Nato-led international Security Assistance Force in 2008 and 2009.
His 37-year career in the Royal Marines also included serving in the 1982 Falklands War. He is also a former Commander of Taunton-based 40 Commando.
Sir James, who is married with two children, was the Ministry of Defence director of Nato policy and served as Britain’s liaison officer to the Pentagon at the time of the September 11 terror attacks.
“I am delighted and honoured to be going to Gibraltar, especially given its historical connections with the Royal Marines,” he said.
“I hope that my many years of military experience combined now with three years of commercial experience will equip me well to deliver the governor’s role and responsibilities toward Gibraltar and the United Kingdom.”
Fabian Picardo, the chief minister of Gibraltar, said: “Lieutenant General Dutton and his family can be assured of the warmest of receptions when they arrive here in December.”
He will succeed former Royal Navy Vice-Admiral Sir Adrian Johns.
In an unusual intervention from a governor, Sir Adrian last month accused Spain of a “serious violation of British sovereignty”. Madrid’s decision to send divers to photograph a Gibraltar-built artificial reef which it claims disrupts Spanish fishing rights was “unhelpful” when Britain was seeking to ease tensions, he said. Britain has held the rocky Mediterranean outcrop, home to about 30,000 people, since 1713.
The Foreign Office insisted the succession was unrelated to the dispute and was planned “long ago, well in advance of any of the current difficulties we are experiencing”.
Spain's foreign ministry had no comment on the appointment.