Reacting to the latest statements by the GSD and Mr Daniel Feetham in relation to the recent nolle prosequi entered by the Attorney General in a conspiracy to defraud case, the Chief Minister, the Hon Fabian Picardo QC MP, said:
“I note that the GSD want to continue to cast unfair and baseless aspersions against my political and professional reputation arising from a decision to enter a nolle prosequi, in relation to a case of conspiracy to defraud, which I did not influence, seek to influence or take.
“In order to address the latest statements from the GSD and, in particular, Mr Daniel Feetham, I nonetheless reiterate that, as a matter of law, the Chief Minister has no POWER contained in any statute or in the Constitution to remove a Commissioner of Police. The Chief Minister only has the RIGHT to be consulted or reported to if the power to seek the retirement, resignation or suspension of a Commissioner is exercised by the Gibraltar Police Authority or the Governor respectively. That is exactly what I told parliament when I made the relevant statement in July 2021 and the subsequent answers I have given in answers to questions in the Parliament. Mr Azopardi is trying to mislead the public by pretending that the words on the pages of Hansard could possibly mean anything else.
“In relation to Mr Feetham, he needs to realise that the first person who has referred to him in this debate was his current party leader, Mr Azopardi, who mentioned the partners of Hassans as a collective which includes him specifically. He therefore needs to have a conversation with his current party leader if he does not want to be involved in these party political exchanges because he would have been as much a beneficiary of what Mr Azopardi suggested as every partner of Hassans would have been.
“In fact, however, as I told GBC on Friday, I made the decision that the company that the partners of Hassans who, including Mr Feetham, were shareholders in, 36 North Ltd, should NOT have the benefit of the Government contract. I therefore acted in entirely the OPPOSITE way that Mr Azopardi was imputing and suggesting and in a way that did NOT benefit the partners of Hassans, Mr Feetham included. Mr Azopardi, for his part, needs to acknowledge and accept this or challenge it.
“For that reason, it is clear that there is NO political embarrassment to me in this case other than as Mr Azopardi is trying to make up for his own benefit. I am perfectly happy for all information relevant to my involvement to be made public. The only embarrassment we are likely to see in this matter is Mr Azopardi’s own, when all matters have been properly ventilated, and he is seen, once again, to have been chasing gossip and rumour for his own benefit in detriment to the truth and the best interests of the people of Gibraltar.
“The fact of the matter is that the GSD are clearly mounting a baseless and calculated attack on the criminal justice system in Gibraltar. They are doing so only in order to try to advance their partisan position and to try to unfairly discredit me in the process, as they have done in different ways the past thirty years since I first went into politics.
“As things simmer down, when people see all the facts, as they will, and calmer heads prevail, the public will see that I have acted at all times properly and in the best interests of Gibraltar at every stage.”
The Government expects to make a full announcement as to the convening of the McGrail Inquiry during the course of this week.