GIBRALTAR’S Chief Minister Fabian Picardo is confident that the ‘festering’ McGrail Inquiry will find he ‘acted properly at all times’.
The comments came in response to opposition concerns that an ongoing criminal investigation into the possibility of witness inducements has caused yet further delays into the much-prolonged case.
The inquiry is investigating whether Picardo placed inappropriate pressure on former Police Commissioner Ian McGrail or interfered in police investigations before his shock retirement in June 2020.
The inquiry has already been subject to numerous delays setting it back over three years, including Covid-related, a March 2023 data leak and ‘logistical problems’ in finding an appropriate judge.
The latest hold up shrouds yet more murk on the troubled inquiry, being chaired by former High Court judge Sir Charles Peter Lawford Openshaw.
“The issue of possible witness inducements has itself been bubbling under since the rather bizarre sequence of events earlier this year when the Chief Minister said he had seen evidence of criminal allegations against Mr McGrail,” the Gibraltar Social Democrats said in a statement.
“It was swiftly followed by the Commissioner of Police denying having seen such evidence a day later and the fact that it emerged subsequently that letters of assurance to 14 police officers had been signed by the Chief Minister when it was unnecessary to do so.”
They then called for the inquiry to go ahead ‘as soon as possible’ as a matter of public interest.
The government dismissed GSD complaints about the numerous delays and reminded them that it ‘convened the McGrail Inquiry as soon as it was possible to do so given the problems that the pandemic had caused.’
The Chief Minister said: “The final hearings of the Inquiry will, unfortunately, now take longer than anyone would wish, but that will not alter the outcome that I am confident will entirely vindicate my position and the position of His Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar as a whole in respect of all aspects of this matter.”
It was in June 2020 when the former Commissioner of Royal Gibraltar Police claimed he was forced from his job amid ‘improper pressure at the highest level of government’.
McGrail announced he was retiring as Commissioner of Police after serving just two years of a four-year term without revealing his reasons behind the move at the time.
The decision to retire early after 36 years with the RGP, provoked fierce speculation and questions in parliament with McGrail himself calling for the matter to be properly investigated, and an inquiry was set up at the request of Chief Minister Fabian Picardo.
In a shock twist, McGrail was arrested for sexual assault in April 2023, but later cleared of all charges.
- BREAKING: Police charge ex-Commissioner McGrail with alleged sexual assault of a policewoman
- McGrail Inquiry: Ex-Police Commissioner claims ‘improper pressure at highest level of Gibraltar government’ forced early retirement