McGrail Inquiry Delay Leaves Clouds of Unresolved Issues Against Mr Picardo Ahead of Election
The revelation that there is an ongoing criminal investigation into the possibility of witness inducements in the McGrail Inquiry is a further worrying development in an already festering saga. The decision to postpone the start of the Inquiry hearing as a consequence will delay the closure needed to this prolonged case.
Decisions as to the proper conduct and management of the Inquiry are for its Chairman but what is also clear is that Gibraltar would not likely be at this unsatisfactory stage if the Inquiry had been convened by the Government when it was originally promised. After all the Chief Minister promised to convene this in July 2020 and then failed to do so till early last year. If that delay of 18 months had not happened it is likely that there would have been an outcome to all processes by now.
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 which 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. Without commenting on an ongoing investigation or suggesting criminal conduct the GSD has said for some time that issuing letters of assurance smacked of inappropriate conduct.
It is important in the public interest that the Inquiry go ahead as soon as possible so that all issues are investigated but those timings are for the Chairman. Now the ongoing criminal and inquiry processes will mean that the timings are uncertain. What is certain is that the hearings will not proceed ahead of a general election. This is a general election that Mr Picardo will face with a cloud of allegations against him from Mr McGrail of improper conduct and a further cloud of inappropriate involvement in evidence gathering processes both of which currently lie unresolved.