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McGrail public inquiry to hold preliminary session today

Archive image of former Commissioner of Police Ian McGrail.

The long-awaited public inquiry into the controversial early retirement of former Commissioner of Police Ian McGrail will hold a preliminary hearing today in the Garrison Library.

The preliminary hearing, which starts at 10am and will take place over two days, will deal with procedural and administrative matters and will also establish directions to progress the inquiry.

The inquiry is being chaired by Sir Peter Openshaw, a retired UK High Court judge of the Queen’s Bench Division in England and Wales.

Sir Peter is tasked with inquiring “…as he shall in his absolute discretion consider appropriate, into the reasons and circumstances leading to Mr Ian McGrail ceasing to be Commissioner of Police in June 2020 by taking early retirement.”

“The Commissioner [of the inquiry, meaning Sir Peter Openshaw] is to ascertain the facts and report to the Government on the above matters.”

The inquiry will be held in public save for any aspects Sir Peter may determine in his discretion.

Mr McGrail retired from the RGP early in June 2020, stepping down as police Commissioner after a 36-year career and half-way through his term in the top post at the Royal Gibraltar Police, raising questions and fuelling speculation as to the reasons for the sudden decision.

At the time, the Gibraltar Parliament was told that the Gibraltar Police Authority, having first obtained agreement from both the then Governor, Nick Pyle, and from Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, had invited Mr McGrail to take early retirement. No reasons were given, however.

After he stepped down, Mr McGrail issued a statement through his lawyer, Charles Gomez, and said that, without an independent judicial inquiry, there was “a real risk” to Gibraltar’s reputation as a parliamentary democracy under the rule of law.

In July that same year, Mr Picardo said that the government did not see a need for an inquiry but that Mr McGrail’s suggestion that Gibraltar’s reputation could be “tarnished” without one left it no other option.

The GSD has raised serious concerns about this issue on numerous occasions since, insisting it was in the interests of democracy that there be clarity as to why Mr McGrail left his post just two years into the job.

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