The European Arrest Warrant

By reason of its effect on individuals, the EU Arrest Warrant (EAW) is probably the most pernicious of all EU legislation to-date.  All 27 EU countries, with 23 languages, are involved.

The EAW breaches just about every basic safeguard built into the administration of Anglo-Saxon Criminal law.  In particular the EAW allows the arrest of individuals on the say-so of unidentified officials, on the flimsiest of evidence, even confusing one name with another.

  • Individuals may be held indefinitely in gaol without appearing before a magistrate in public to hear the charges against them.
  • There is no mechanism for cancelling an Arrest Warrant: even where individuals have been judged not guilty of the offence entered on the EAW, it still lies in the police files for ever.

By far the worst feature for British citizens is that they are subject to the judicial processes of 26 other countries, including the Eastern European states, whose justice systems include thousands of people brought up under Communist dictatorships until 1991 where justice independent of the state was virtually absent.

The case of Deborah Dark

The organisation Fair Trials International (link) has a long list of cases which it claims are causing serious injustice, including that of Deborah Dark, who was arrested and acquitted of drug offences in France in 1989, retried in her absence and, without her knowledge sentenced to six years in gaol.  In 2007, 17 years later, Miss Dark was arrested at gunpoint in Turkey (which is not part of the EU) on an EAW issued by the French authorities.  She was then released, and on return to the UK told by UK police that no EAW was outstanding against her.  In 2008 she was arrested while on holiday in Spain, then freed from custody by the Spanish authorities on grounds of passage of time and unreasonable delay since the alleged offence.  On arrival back in the UK Deborah was arrested again on the French EAW, released on bail, but thankfully City of Westminster Magistrates refused in April 2009 to allow extradition to France on grounds, like the Spanish, of unreasonable delay.  However, she is still at risk of being arrested if she travels in any of the other EU countries, as there is no mechanism for EAWs to be cancelled.

Another shocking case of British Authorities’ failure to protect their citizens: McGoldrick and Turner

In 2008 Jason McGoldrick, accompanied by his heavily pregnant wife, returned to Britain through Heathrow Airport from a holiday.  He was arrested and marched off to prison, having to leave his wife with all their luggage to make her way home on her own to the Midlands.  The British police who behaved in this brutal way, were executing an EAW issued by a Hungarian official.  The alleged offences were very vague and contained no actual charges: the Hungarians used the EAW to investigate McGoldrick and his business associate Mike Turner about their Hungarian business venture which had failed.

The British extradition proceedings were a sham, the court concerned not bothering to examine the charges against Mr McGoldrick and Mr Turner, simply concerned to rubber-stamp the EAW and have Jason and Mike sent to prison in Hungary.

What is shaming is that it was a British court which executed the EAW, claiming that this was the procedure which had been agreed with the other EU countries.  Britain-Watch has noted recently (post of November 1st) the way that “procedures” have come to dominate the fire service and police service in certain areas of the country.  In point of fact, the EAW is supposed, under its own rules, to be used only for conducting a criminal prosecution of precisely worded charges, not merely for investigation of possible breaches of the law in the country seeking to use the EAW.

In the McGoldrick and Turner case we see the same “procedures” mentality again.  In the Deborah Dark case (above) the Westminster Magistrates, to their credit, declined to accept the “procedures” excuse, showing that the apparatus of British justice can still protect the citizen, if their functionaries care to take the trouble.  Unjust and arbitrary laws can be changed by the direct action of citizens like John Hampden in the run up to the English Civil War in the 17th Century, or more recently the Poll tax in 1989.

It is a manifest disgrace that with the previous (Blair) government, having signed us up to the EAW with all its obvious dangers for British people, the present coalition government ignores the plight of people like Jason McGoldrick and Michael Turner, and that the courts – only too prepared to set aside British asylum law in favour of illegal foreign immigrants* – cannot exert themselves on behalf of British citizens caught in the toils of former Soviet-block legal processes.

There was plenty of opportunity for the magistrates to hold up the execution of the EAW if they had put their duty to their fellow citizens ahead of the demands of a foreign official: the fact that the warrant did not specify precise charges carrying a sentence of longer than 12 months, the likelihood that McGoldrick and Turner would not get a fair trial within a set period of time, with interpreters provided by the Hungarian authorities – all of which have been grounds for refusing to send foreigners back to their own countries for trial.

The plain fact is that anything with the word “Euro” attached to it trumps everything in the minds of the British political class and the judiciary: freedom and the protection of British citizens – everything which hitherto they have believed in: habeas corpus, magna carta – the lot.

The EAW issue, like John Hampden’s cry for freedom from an arbitrary and overbearing state, concerns any and everyone travelling in the Continental EU.  Mike and Jason are being persecuted, held in a legal limbo, awaiting news of any trial, let alone news of any charges – but with the Hungarian EAW still in existence.

A fund to mount a legal challenge (possibly judicial review on the grounds of oppressive exercise of the state’s power against the demands of natural justice) to this EAW has been set up for Mike and Jason and more generally to force a revision to the whole EAW system.  The fund is administered by Harvey and Co, Chartered Accountants, 21 Market Place, Blandford Forum, Dorset, DT11 7AF.  The account is held at Lloyds TSB – account name: “Harvey and Co, re: free Mike and Jason”; sort code 30-91-08; account number 25302868.  Any branch of Lloyds will accept donations or they can be made by credit card on 07977-585253.

*Readers will be relieved to know, we are sure, that Abu Hamza, the Moslem cleric serving a 7-year gaol sentence for inciting murder and racial hatred, who acquired British citizenship and access to benefits for his family of 7 children by marrying an English woman as an illegal immigrant, will nonetheless be allowed to keep that citizenship and the passport which goes with it.

Why is this?  Well it’s courtesy of something called the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, SIAC, in the person of Mr Justice Manning, who said: “We are satisfied on balance of probabilities that if a deprivation order were to be made, the appellant (Abu Hamza) would be made stateless.”

What is it with these people?  Why should the British people be made to care about a foreign criminal in this way?  Why should judges be allowed to put the interests of foreigners ahead of natural justice for the British people?  Only early retirement of the judges with this sort of mentality and those who appointed them will bring a semblance of sanity into the judiciary’s dealing with foreigners demanding favours.  Only the repeal of the Human Rights Act will deprive the judiciary of any excuse for acting in these British-disregarding ways.                                                            

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