All Criminal Allegations in the McGrail Saga Should Be Investigated Independently
On Thursday, former Commissioner McGrail was arrested among other reasons for a suspicion of misconduct in office. Clearly it is right for those issues to be investigated in an independent fashion. To the extent that any other related allegations of misconduct in office or about other criminal wrongdoing are being made by any person in this saga it would make sense for all of these to also be independently investigated in the same manner. If the remit of former Chief Superintendent McVea needs to be extended to allow for that then the Governor should do so because otherwise only some of the evidence of potential criminality will be investigated independently. That would ensure that the independent criminal investigation is comprehensive and there is conclusive finality to any criminal dimensions relevant to this overall case. If that is not done it may leave unsatisfactory gaps in this affair.
Additionally and despite the Chief Minister’s protestations it remains strange that he should say that he is aware of evidence of “potential criminality” but that the current Commissioner of Police, Mr Ullger, when asked about this specifically said he had not seen that evidence. Indeed, the Commissioner of Police made it a point to say on the GBC Gibraltar Today programme that the proper port of call for anyone who does have evidence of criminal wrongdoing is to report this to the Police. Has Mr Picardo passed on all the evidence of potential criminality that he says he has seen to the Police? It is doubly strange that Mr Picardo who is a core figure in the events of May and June 2020 should be the recipient of that information and not the Commissioner of Police.
What Mr Picardo’s press release on the whistleblowers law conveniently leaves out is that in the case of police officers a qualifying disclosure should primarily be made to the Commissioner of Police. In any event Mr Picardo’s focus on the whistleblowing legislation rather misses the obvious overarching point that in the case of criminal wrongdoing the appropriate investigative authority is the Police so that any information should also be delivered to them.
It is unclear when this evidence was provided and whether it came before or after other jobs in the public service were given to some of these individuals. This is something that has already been described by the current Commissioner of Police as affecting capability or morale. Legitimate questions arise in relation to that specific chronology, as to what the motivations or inducements were for the making of these statements and how these allegations are being collated and surfacing now. If these are historic allegations it is equally legitimate to ask who is benefitting from these allegations being thrown about now.
Leader of the Opposition, Keith Azopardi said: “The constant question that remains is how allegations of unrelated issues that are not about what happened in May and June 2020 between Mr Picardo and Mr McGrail are actually relevant to the Public Inquiry or whether they are being deployed as diversionary tactics. Those questions are matters for the Inquiry Chairman. Clearly all allegations relevant to the McGrail Inquiry should be fully assessed by the Chairman of the Inquiry.
Beyond that if there is any evidence of potential criminal wrongdoing or misconduct in office this should also be investigated by the police in the normal way and as necessary the remit of the current independent investigation should be extended by the Governor to cover those issues.”