The Government notes that the statements by Keith Azopardi and the GSD in respect of the McGrail inquiry infer that the Chief Minister, the Hon Fabian Picardo QC MP, exercised some statutory or constitutional power in respect of Mr McGrail’s early retirement.
Most recently, the GSD stated that: “… when Ministers exercise statutory or constitutional power it needs to be subject to checks and balances. That is why we have been calling repeatedly for the McGrail Inquiry that was promised 19 months ago…”.
In fact, no minister, including the Chief Minister, has any power under the Constitution to seek, compel or otherwise influence the removal, retirement or resignation of a Commissioner of Police.
Furthermore, and as Mr Azopardi should be aware, the Police Act 2006, presented and passed by the GSD when in Government, similarly gives no such power to the Chief Minister.
Under the Police Act, the Gibraltar Police Authority is the only body having the power to seek that the Commissioner should retire in the interests of the efficiency, effectiveness, probity, integrity or independence of policing in Gibraltar. The Act further provides that the GPA must consult the Governor and the Chief Minister but requires the agreement of only one of these in order to proceed to seek such a retirement. The Governor alone has the power, under section 13 (1) of the Police Act, to suspend or call for the resignation of a Commissioner of Police.
Mr Azopardi and his party singularly fail to understand the law, in respect of both the constitutional and statutory framework of policing in Gibraltar and the absence of any power in the hands of the holder, from time to time, of the Office of Chief Minister.
The Chief Minister will make a further announcement next week on the commencement of the Judicial Inquiry into the retirement of the former Commissioner of Police once all necessary arrangements for the Inquiry are established.
The delays in respect of the convening of the said inquiry have been related to availability of a senior judge and his / her ability to come and go from Gibraltar for extended periods (necessarily longer than Court of Appeal sessions), and not for any other reason, whatever Mr Azopardi and his supporters may suggest.
NOTES TO EDITORS
SECTION 34 POLICE ACT 2006
Removal of Commissioner.
34.(1) The Authority acting after consultation with the Governor and the Chief Minister and with the agreement of either of them, may call upon the Commissioner to retire, in the interests of efficiency, effectiveness, probity, integrity, or independence of policing in Gibraltar.
(2) Before seeking the approval of the Governor and the Chief Minister under subsection (1), the Authority shall give the Commissioner an opportunity to make representations and shall consider any representations that he makes.
(3) Where the Commissioner is called upon to retire under subsection (1), he shall retire on such date as the Authority may specify or on such earlier date as may be agreed upon between him and the Authority.
SECTION 13 POLICE ACT 2006
Governor’s powers in default by Authority.
13.(1) The following powers are exercisable by the Governor where the Authority has failed to discharge or perform a responsibility imposed on the Authority under this Act-
(a) to require the Authority to provide a report on any policing matter;
(b) to direct the Authority to submit the Force to an inspection by an appropriate inspectorate;
(c) to direct that an inquiry into policing in Gibraltar be made;
(d) where an inspection or inquiry under this section identifies any shortcomings, to direct that, within the financial resources available to it, the Force take appropriate remedial action;
(e) where in the opinion of the Governor the integrity, probity or independence of the police has been compromised or is at risk, to direct the Force to take appropriate action to remedy the situation or avoid the risk;
(f) to suspend from duty, or call for the resignation of the Commissioner.
(2) The Governor will keep the Chief Minister informed of any exercise by him of a power under this section and shall provide to the Chief Minister a copy of any report produced as a consequence thereof.