Charles Gomez Statement on Behalf of Ian McGrail | 24.03.2023
Author: Charles Gomez & Co
Press Statement - 24th March 2023
Principal Barrister Charles Gomez on behalf of Ex-Commissioner of the Royal Gibraltar Police, Mr Ian McGrail 24.03.2023
Watch full video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=niZz6GMGMkw
"I am making this public statement on behalf of Mr. Ian McGrail in response to the public statements made yesterday by Mr. McVea and the media coverage of my client’s arrest.
I will start by providing a chronology of undisputed facts and will leave the Gibraltarian public to draw their own conclusions as to yesterday’s events.
The public Inquiry was called at the behest of Mr. McGrail who challenged Mr. Picardo to do so following the early termination of Mr. McGrail’s position as the Crown’s principal law enforcement officer in June 2020.
After much delay, the Inquiry was finally convened by His Excellency the Governor Sir David Steel in February 2022.
I would invite you to visit the Inquiry website coircomp.gi. This will give you the clearest possible indication of the matters at the root of the Inquiry. Among those issues is the so-called “Operation Delhi” which was a police operation investigating allegations of hacking and/or sabotage of the National Security Centralised Intelligence System and alleged conspiracy to defraud.
Gibraltar is of course at constant threat of criminality, including potential terrorism. During the time that this System was down the security alert state was at ‘substantial’ meaning an attack was likely.
In November 2022 it came to Mr. McGrail’s knowledge that there may have been a breach of the data kept by the Inquiry Solicitors. Following a number of prudential checks the potential data breach was brought to the attention of the Inquiry who passed it on to the Royal Gibraltar Police. The importance of this is that had it not been for the reports made to the authorities by Mr. McGrail the data breach might have gone undetected.
Subsequently, police action indicated that there had indeed been a data breach. All this is a matter of public record.
Entirely separately, Mr. McGrail retained some of his personal files. He was at the time extremely concerned 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. He later returned those files to the RGP and explained why he retained them for a period, an explanation which he had understood to have been accepted.
Subsequent to being informed of the Inquiry data breach, Mr. McGrail repeatedly suggested that an external police force should be instructed to investigate that and other matters of concern, some of which have also been reported in the press.
It was therefore a cause of relief and satisfaction to Mr. McGrail that officers from the Police Service of Northern Ireland were delegated the task of investigating the Inquiry data breach and other matters. It was of course noted that the principal investigator has a great deal of experience in terms of the suppression of terrorism in Northern Ireland. This added to the general satisfaction felt given the underlying aspects of Operation Delhi which I have referred to.
On 4th February 2023 Mr. McGrail met with Mr. McVea, the senior investigating officer, and his assistant Mr. Kirkpatrick. The conversation was cordial and Mr. McGrail urged Mr. McVea to try to obtain authority from the Governor to expand the range of matters under investigation to the extent that they impacted on the Public Inquiry. Mr. McGrail made himself available to assist Mr. McVea and his team in whatever way they required.
In the period since 4th February 2023, Mr. McGrail was surprised that he had not been contacted again by the investigators but thought that this was because they must be busy conducting enquiries. Meanwhile, Mr. McGrail has been working all hours to try to meet the deadlines and requirements imposed by the Inquiry to ensure that the final hearing takes place in September.
At 07:30am on 23rd March 2023, a group of six police officers led by Mr. McVea attended at Mr. McGrail’s home, armed with a Search Warrant. He was arrested before the Warrant was executed. His personal belongings were searched and his IT and mobile devices were seized and taken away. These contain all the legally privileged communications which Mr. McGrail has had with his legal advisors and all the documentation that he was preparing in compliance with the Inquiry’s directions. We are hopeful that these will be returned to Mr. McGrail during the course of the day, but this has not been confirmed.
People listening to or reading this statement will draw their own conclusions.
Meanwhile, Mr. McGrail understands that there are a number of other lines of enquiry which the PSNI is investigating and he confirms that he remains available to assist law enforcement in whatever is required of him.
Mr. McGrail is confident that it will soon be found that he has not committed the alleged offences and calls on the investigators to expedite conclusion of their work so that it does not impact on the Inquiry’s timetable. It is however regrettable that the investigators should have acted as they did yesterday.
In relation to this and all other matters, the Royal Gibraltar Police has been kept fully informed since at least November 2022.
In summary, Mr. McGrail called the Inquiry, reported the data breach to the authorities, suggested that an external police force be brought in to investigate that and other sensitive matters, notified the RGP of the documents that he had in his possession, met with the lead investigating officer, and made himself available, and despite all this was arrested following an unannounced dawn raid, four months after he uncovered the data breach and made relevant reports to the Inquiry and to the RGP .
Mr. McGrail has asked me to thank the members of the Royal Gibraltar Police who attended on him at the New Mole House Police Station yesterday. He considers them to be a credit to Gibraltarian policing and wishes to join the Governor and Commissioner Ullger in their reassurances to the public that the RGP continues to function competently, notwithstanding the grave challenges that they face as Commissioner Ullger stated in his recent Police Orders newsletter which has caused so much public disquiet."
Statement on Behalf of Ex-Commissioner of the Royal Gibraltar Police, Mr Ian McGrail by Charles Gomez & Company Lawyers | 24.03.2023