Clause 70 - Arrest warrant following extradition request

Part of Extradition Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 2:30 pm ar 14 Ionawr 2003.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Ceidwadwyr, Surrey Heath 2:30, 14 Ionawr 2003

I beg to move amendment No. 154, in

clause 70, page 35, line 33, leave out subsection (4).

We are once again putting forward the views of the Law Society of England and Wales. We share its view that there is no justification in the Bill for two different part 2 proceedings for what the Law Society calls category or part 2 countries. The clause provides that an Order in Council could in future designate the part 2 categories into sub-tiers: one that would require information; the other, evidence to support the warrant. The Opposition have not seen anything that justifies a requirement for a lesser degree of evidence for any part 2 state.

Issues relating to the Human Rights Act 1998 and procedural safeguards will not be so effectively monitored and enforced in part 2 proceedings. In the absence of such enforcement mechanisms, the Law Society of England and Wales says that there should be a requirement for prima facie evidence, which will provide protections against foreign states embarking on what the courts refer to as fishing expeditions. In my years in practice at the Bar, I worked on various cases that involved reducing the opportunities for parties to go on such fishing expeditions. I am sure that the hon. Member for Orkney and Shetland (Mr. Carmichael) will know from his experience north of the border—he is nodding—that the courts there are keen to avoid such fishing for evidence.

A requirement for prima facie evidence would avoid potential uses of the procedures for merely incompetent or mistaken investigations. Again, I am indebted to Mr. Roscoe of Victor Lissack and Roscoe Solicitors. As a specialist in the field, he drew my attention to several cases in which entirely trivial accusations appear to have been made against people in this country. One case was dropped in a matter of days after someone had been extradited. In the meantime, however, a huge amount of taxpayers' money had been wasted on extradition proceedings.

In another case, the Czech authorities sought to extradite a Mr. Sivak. I make no general criticism of those authorities, but I understand from Mr. Roscoe, who drew the case to my attention, that the Czech Republic—an applicant state to the EU—was pursuing investigations that it should not have been pursuing. The Czech Republic may, of course, become a part 1 country, but even in the case of part 2

countries, we are concerned that there should be no possibility of sub-divisions, or of allowing requesting states to go on fishing expedition or pursuing trivial inquiries.

We will have other opportunities to consider de minimis provisions, which we will doubtless discuss in our debates on part 5. At this stage, I merely want to place on record the concerns of the Law Society of England and Wales and specialist extradition solicitors, which we share.