McGrail Inquiry completes evidence from Op Delhi officers, with former Commissioner to take witness stand today

Former police Commissioner Ian McGrail will today commence giving live evidence to the McGrail Inquiry, which is tasked with investigating the reasons and circumstances leading to his controversial early retirement in June 2020.

Mr McGrail will be the third witness to give live evidence to the Inquiry, which last week heard from two police officers who at different times led Operation Delhi, the police investigation into the alleged “hacking and sabotage” of Gibraltar’s National Security Centralised Intelligence System.

Operation Delhi has emerged as a central issue in the Inquiry.

Much of the two officers’ evidence centred on search warrants that the Royal Gibraltar Police sought to execute at the home and office of Hassans senior partner James Levy, KC, on May 12, 2020.

Mr McGrail’s lawyers told the Inquiry the search warrants had triggered an angry response from Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, Mr Levy’s close friend and a sabbatical partner of Hassans.

They allege this set in motion a sequence of events where police were placed under intense pressure over the conduct of Operation Delhi that ultimately forced Mr McGrail to take early retirement.

Lawyers for the Government parties - including the Chief Minister, the then interim Governor Nick Pyle, and Attorney General Michael Llamas, KC – refute this and say Mr McGrail retired because he knew he had lost the confidence of the Governor and the Chief Minister.

On Friday the Inquiry heard that Mr Levy voluntarily handed over his electronic devices when approached by police with the warrant on May 12, 2020, but that he withdrew consent the same day.

The Inquiry heard too that the RGP had sought a voluntary statement from Mr Levy as opposed to an interview under caution, and that this followed advice from the Attorney General, Michael Llamas, KC, after the initial attempt to execute the warrants.

Superintendent Mark Wyan said it was not usual for the Attorney General to advise in a police operation and that his proposals, while not unlawful, sought “facilitation, perhaps even negotiation” and took the RGP away from the “established procedures” it would normally adopt.

Supt Wyan said that although he “didn’t feel pressure”, there was “influence” that meant the RGP “ultimately proceeded with a course of action that was highly unusual” in this case.

He said RGP officers had attended a meeting with the Attorney General “very certain” about the manner in which they would conduct the interviews and “left that meeting with a different way of dealing with the matter”.

He said this caused delays and that “despite chasing”, it took the RGP “a long time to obtain” the voluntary statement.

In the meantime, the search warrant had expired.

“Therefore, without the search warrant we would have problems accessing the mobile phones,” Supt Wyan said.

He added that the “act of agreeing to the voluntary statement” had a “subsequent” impact on the RGP’s ability to investigate as they “normally would have done”.

With hindsight, Supt Wyan said he did not agree with decision to request a voluntary statement.

The Inquiry heard that by October 2020, police accepted they no longer had reasonable grounds to suspect Mr Levy, who was never arrested or charged.

But the Inquiry heard too that at the time, some officers felt the outcome may have been different had they executed the search warrants and conducted an interview under caution.

Supt Wyan said the RGP had also planned to speak with Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, for information from a “Government perspective”, but that Mr Picardo was never a suspect in this case and was “always a witness”.


Retired Superintendent Paul Richardson, who led Operation Delhi at the time of the search warrants, recalled the attempt to execute the search warrants on Mr Levy.

Mr Richardson was wearing a body warn camera when he attended the offices of Hassans and a conversation with Mr Levy was recorded.

Sir Peter Caruana, KC, the lawyer representing the Government parties pressed Mr Richardson on some of his comments during this exchange.

Sir Peter read a transcript of the conversation between Mr Richardson and Mr Levy.

According to Sir Peter, Mr Richardson had told Mr Levy: “I can assure you with my hand on my heart that nobody has interfered at all with my conduct of this investigation.”

Mr Richardson asked for clarity as to when he had made that comment during his attendance at Hassans that day, prompting Sir Peter to ask whether there had been any subsequent interference.

Mr Richardson said he had been called by Mr McGrail to leave Hassans and return to New Mole House police station after the Chief Minister had given the Commissioner the “dressing down of his career” over the warrants.

Mr Richardson said this “clearly had an effect” on his attendance at Hassans, but that it was not an “interference”.

“I'm saying that if that comment was said at the very beginning of that meeting - and I don't know when it was said - and later on I had been recalled from the premises to brief the Commissioner, that that had clearly had an effect on my attendance at Hassans,” Mr Richardson said.

“I wouldn't say that that was an interference though in the investigation.”

The Inquiry heard how, after the events that day, Mr McGrail “covertly” recorded subsequent meetings with senior officials when discussing Operation Delhi.

One of those recordings, which was played during the hearing, included a conversation Mr McGrail and Mr Richardson as they left a meeting with the Attorney General.

Mr Richardson was heard stating that Attorney General “doesn’t bully” and when he sees the “strength of the argument” he “tries ways around round it, but then accepts it”.

Sir Peter asked Mr Richardson whether this was a “contemporaneous, instinctive” assessment of the Attorney General’s position, and therefore “most likely to be true”.

There was “no suggestion of pressurising, of bullying - the contrary - or being forced or interference or anything of the kind,” Sir Peter said.

“I agree with what you've just said, yes,” Mr Richardson replied.

Friday’s hearing included a private session after the witnesses said they found it difficult to fully answer some of the questions without sharing sensitive information that was subject to a restriction notice issued by the Gibraltar Government ahead of the Inquiry.

The Inquiry continues.


HASSANS senior partner James Levy finally gave evidence in the McGrail inquiry today. The King’s Counsel went toe-to-toe with fellow heavy-weight Patrick Gibbs, the high-profile barrister who got actor Kevin Spacey off

GIBRALTAR’s Chief Minister has announced he will step down after his current term. Fabian Picardo told a popular podcast things had gotten ‘a little stickier’ and ‘I’ve had my fill of this

Operation Delhi was an RGP investigation into the alleged hacking and/or sabotage of the National Security Central Intelligence System.

NSCIS began as a means of monitoring the length of Gibraltar's land border queue. From this modest beginning, it grew to become a vital tool for the management of all Gibraltar's borders. Through a number of different modules, it allowed law enforcement and government to oversee arrivals and departures by land, sea and air.

Former Police Commissioner Ian McGrail alleges that Op Delhi was the real reason he was forced into early retirement. Ros Astengo takes us through the timeline.

Please see video at link above 4:35min