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19th April 2024, 14:52

​Director of Public Prosecutions tells McGrail Inquiry he did not advise against a search warrant in Operation Delhi, as operational matters are for the police to direct

Published by GBC News

DPP does not advise on police operations

The Director of Public Prosecutions has told the McGrail Inquiry he did not advise against a search warrant in Operation Delhi, as operational matters are a matter for the police to direct. 

Christian Rocca KC said once asked, he did express a preference for a production order - as a less intrusive method of seeking the evidence - but believed the search warrant to be “defensible” should it be legally challenged.

Mr Rocca has been answering questions from the Counsel to the Inquiry, Julian Santos, about his role in the spring of 2020 in advising police about their attempt to execute a search warrant at the home and offices of Hassans Senior Partner James Levy KC.

The investigation was into an alleged hacking of the national security information system. Mr Levy has claimed the investigation was fundamentally flawed. He was never charged and denies any wrongdoing.

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Sharp business practice, person of interest & then suspect

Mr Rocca described his thinking, over time, of how to deal with Mr Levy and his involvement in the alleged hacking of NSIS. Initially he thought his involvement may amount to ‘sharp business practice’, which means dishonest but not illegal.

But Mr Rocca said he later beleived Mr Levy was a person of interest - understandable for RGP to consider him a suspect - and his view was it was “perfectly fine” for the RGP to seek to interview him under caution, should they choose to.

He said it was the police lead Paul Richardson who decided how to proceed with the police investigation: Mr Rocca said the approach was for Mr Richardson to decide, he made the call and Mr Rocca would back him.

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'Shocked' by Ian McGrail's covert recording of meeting

Mr Rocca said he didn’t know Ian McGrail was secretly recording a meeting on the 13th of May with him, the Attorney General, Paul Richardson and the Government Solicitor. He said he was shocked and felt betrayed when he found out. 

Mr Rocca said he doesn’t think a secret recording is justified in a room where five people could corroborate what was said, but he acknowledged he does not know what was going through Mr McGrail’s mind at the time.

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Attorney General's message to the Chief Minister about meeting with DPP

In a text message from the Attorney General to the Chief Minister, sent after the RGP had attempted to serve the search warrant, Michael Llamas KC tells Fabian Picardo he’d met the DPP, who confirmed he ‘strongly advised against a search warrant’.

That’s evidence relied upon by Mr Llamas and Mr Picardo.

Mr Rocca effectively today told the inquiry he disagrees with that characterisation of his meeting with the Attorney General. He repeated that it is not for the DPP to advise for or against a search warrant, as the police are autonomous in deciding how to proceed.

The DPP says he gives prosecutorial advice.

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Who did DPP speak to about Operation Delhi?

Mr Rocca said he had never provided any information on operational matters to the Chief Minister, and that Fabian Picardo has never sought to contact him about any criminal investigation.

He also said he felt shocked and betrayed when he learned former Commissioner Ian McGrail had secretly recorded meetings with five people in the room. He said he wasn’t in Mr McGrail’s mind, but believed a secret recording could never be justified.

Mr R says he did not speak to Lewis Baglietto KC, Mr L’s lawyer in Operation Delhi. Important to say he did not divulge his advice to the RGP at the time, as that information would be privileged and sharing it would be improper.

Asked how he would feel about someone else doing so, he said it would be a matter for them.

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Special treatment for James Levy KC?

He said the meeting with the Attorney General and the RGP to discuss how to proceed with James Levy KC was not special treatment. It was to allow for a "full and frank discussion". But it would be for the police to decide, as they have autonomy, he said.

However, he said Mr Levy was different to the other suspects in that investigation, as they had been charged by that time already. Given that Mr Levy therefore already knew the police were investigating the matter, the element of surprise a search warrant allows (over a production order) is less important. If someone might consider disposing of evidence, and they have advance warning of the investigation then the element of surprise is less important.

And, Mr Rocca said Mr Levy was treated differently to others in another respect. He said if someone else "at Glacis" had tried to stop a search warrant, "he would not have been given the quarter" Mr Levy was given. That created a problem for everyone, he said.

Mr Rocca said it was a very serious criminal investigation. The Chairman invited him to leave it there, suggesting he was coming close to the material covered by the Government’s restriction notice.

Mr Rocca continued to give evidence on Friday afternoon, answering questions from the lawyers for the core participants.