GSD Welcomes McGrail Inquiry News

The GSD says that it welcomes the news that the McGrail Inquiry has now finally been convened. The party says this was an Inquiry which the Chief Minister promised in July 2020 would be convened within “weeks” and has only seen the appointment of the Commissioner last Friday.

A statement continued: “The Chief Minister has been dragged kicking and screaming into convening this Inquiry and the opposite of what he said he wanted in July 2020 has been the result – namely that many people think he has things to hide.

“In answers to questions from the Leader of the Opposition on 27 July 2020 the Chief Minister had revealed that the ex-Commissioner of Police had been asked to retire and that he had agreed that the Commissioner be asked to retire. It had also been revealed that the Acting Governor and the Chief Minister had had a conversation about the forced removal of the ex-Commissioner if Mr McGrail was unwilling to retire.

“In July 2020 the Chief Minister promised the swift appointment of the Inquiry so it would quell speculation and he said that nothing would be covered up. On 28 July 2020 Mr McGrail had issued a statement saying that “without an independent judicial assessment there is a real risk to the reputation of Gibraltar as an advanced parliamentary democracy under the rule of law.” Mr McGrail called for an Inquiry and added that “the standing and reputation of Gibraltar required it.”

“We note that the Chief Minister asked the Governor to identify an English High Court Judge “to guarantee the perception of independence” and that this has led to the appointment of Sir Charles (Peter) Openshaw. Given that the role of the acting Governor at the time and conversations the then holder of the role had with several parties (including the Chief Minister and ex-Commissioner McGrail) will also come under scrutiny it would have been better in terms of absolute perception of independence to ask the senior Gibraltar Judiciary, the Chief Justice and President of the Court of Appeal, to have identified the Judge to lead the Inquiry instead. Were the senior judiciary consulted by the Governor?”

Leader of the Opposition, Keith Azopardi said: “It is now important that a full and comprehensive public inquiry be held as soon as practicable. This should now end the speculation that there has been about these circumstances and should uncover the truth of what happened. It is important to our democracy that this be so. The Police Commissioner occupies an important role in our democracy. It is essential for the reputation of our institutions and integrity of our democracy that all questions be examined and fully tested. It is vital to get to the unadulterated truth and to ensure that the independence of our democratic institutions has not been threatened.

“While the Report from Sir Peter Openshaw will be submitted to the Government in due course there should be a commitment to publish it fully and immediately that it is received by the Government.”