Senior military officers apologise for runway incident
Three senior British military officers in Gibraltar have apologised for taking actions that led to a major disruption on the runway last month and their subsequent arrest.
The three were arrested by the Royal Gibraltar Police on suspicion that they sought to hinder a criminal investigation in Gibraltar.
But yesterday, the RGP confirmed that it had dropped its investigation and released all three from arrest.
“Investigations have revealed that the actions taken by the three military officers were due to a misconception about jurisdiction which they had received from superiors in their chain of command,” the RGP said in a statement.
“In view of that, the three officers have written to the Commissioner of Police apologising for their actions and expressing their regrets, including for the disruption caused to the public on the day.”
“On the basis of all the information now at the RGP’s disposal, and in close consultation with the Office of the Attorney General, it has been determined by the Commissioner, in his discretion, that no further action is required.”
“As a consequence all three senior military officers have been recalled from their bail and released from arrest with no charges being proffered against them.”
The MoD said it had cooperated with the RGP investigation throughout.
A spokeswoman for the MoD in Gibraltar told the Chronicle that “…all involved, including the three service personnel, very much regret what happened.”
Last night both sides signalled their hope to put the incident behind them and rebuild trust between the two organisations, which is vital on issues such a security in the face of the global terrorist threat.
“The RGP wishes to reiterate the excellent working relationship that it has always enjoyed with the MoD in Gibraltar and is confident that the events of the last weeks will serve as a platform to grow an even better understanding between our respective organisations and to build an even stronger and mutually respectful and beneficial future together,” the RGP said.
For its part, the MoD said: “We reaffirm the strong and enduring relationship between the UK and Gibraltar and look forward to continuing to build on the excellent working relationship we have always enjoyed with the Royal Gibraltar Police.”
The unprecedented arrests arose as a result of a sensitive legal tussle over who has jurisdiction in a criminal investigation involving a British serviceman posted to the Rock.
The stand-off first came to light last month when an RGP car dramatically prevented a Royal Air Force transport plane from taking off by blocking the runway.
The runway incident last month left hundreds of people stranded for nearly two hours until the barriers were lifted and normal flow was restored. Some commercial flights were also delayed.
The serviceman under investigation – not one of the three arrested – was on the plane and was being flown to Britain as part of an ongoing UK probe into alleged offences involving indecent images of children.
The RGP wanted to examine computer equipment and establish if an offence had been committed here.
But when investigating officers tried to serve a warrant signed by the Chief Justice of Gibraltar, they were allegedly refused access.
The Ministry of Defence eventually backed down and the man under investigation remains in Gibraltar while police analyse his computer.
That investigation remains open.