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Former police Commissioner Ian McGrail released from arrest on all matters

Archive image of former Commissioner of Police Ian McGrail together with his lawyer, Charles Gomez. Photo by Johnny Bugeja.

Former police Commissioner Ian McGrail was released from arrest on Tuesday by the UK officers flown to Gibraltar to investigate a data breach affecting the public inquiry into the circumstances of his early retirement.

Mr McGrail was arrested last March on suspicion of conspiracy to obtain unauthorised access to computer material, misconduct in public office, and unlawful obtaining of personal data under data protection rules.

The former Commissioner had previously been released from arrest in respect of the conspiracy investigation, which related to the inquiry data breach.

On Tuesday, the Royal Gibraltar Police confirmed he had now been released from arrest in respect of the other two investigations, which related to police documents.

“The RGP can confirm that, following extensive investigations concerning the removal of information from the Royal Gibraltar Police, Ian McGrail, 57, has been released from police bail regarding: Misconduct in Public Office, Contrary to Common Law, and Unlawful Obtaining of Personal Data, Contrary to S175 of the Data Protection Act,” the RGP said in a statement.

At the time of his arrest last March, Mr McGrail’s lawyer, Charles Gomez, said his client was “hugely disappointed” that despite cooperating fully with the investigators, he was arrested at his home at dawn and held in custody for 12 hours before being released on bail.

He said it was Mr McGrail who had alerted the inquiry teams as to the breach of its data and that had it not been for his report, it may have gone undetected.

Mr Gomez said too that, while Mr McGrail had “entirely separately” retained some of his personal files over concerns that “a criminal conspiracy was being covered up, and that his position was at risk and that there was a risk RGP data would be deleted”, the documents had been returned and an explanation provided, and accepted.

Reacting on Monday to the RGP’s statement confirming Mr McGrail’s release from arrest in respect of all pending matters, Mr Gomez said: "Ian McGrail is eager for the Inquiry to take its course and remains positive and confident.”

At its last preliminary hearing, the McGrail Inquiry team confirmed that the investigation into the data breach presented “no barrier” to proceed with the main inquiry hearing, which is scheduled to commence late September.

Sir Peter Openshaw, the retired UK judge who is chairing the Inquiry, is tasked with probing the reasons and circumstances leading to Mr McGrail’s controversial early retirement in June 2020, after a 36-year career and halfway through his term in the top post at the RGP.

In earlier sessions of the Inquiry, Mr McGrail’s lawyers alleged “misconduct and corruption” at the highest levels of government, insisting Mr McGrail was “muscled out” after being placed under huge pressure over the conduct of a live criminal investigation.

Those allegations were “denied and roundly rejected” at the time by Sir Peter Caruana, representing the government parties, who said Mr McGrail retired because he knew he had lost the confidence not just of the Chief Minister but, crucially, of the then Governor, who was the only person with the power to ask him to resign.

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