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McGrail Inquiry delay signals ‘unresolved issues’ ahead of election, GSD says

GSD Headquarters. Pic by Johnny Bugeja.

The GSD has said the recent postponement of the McGrail Inquiry has left “clouds of unresolved issues” ahead of a general election.

Last week Sir Peter Openshaw, the retired UK judge who is chairing the Inquiry, announced the postponement over concerns it could prejudice an ongoing police investigation into allegations that witnesses may have received incentives to provide evidence.

In response the GSD called this a “worrying development in an already festering saga”, adding this 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,” the GSD said.

“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 GSD said this allegation into witness incentives followed a “bizarre sequence of events” when Mr Picardo said he had seen evidence of criminal allegations against Mr McGrail.

The party added this was swiftly followed by the Commissioner of Police denying having seen such evidence a day later.

“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,” the GSD said.

“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.”

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