Are the UK & EU about to agree a "Security Pact" this week with reconfirmation of the European Arrest Warrant?

The following is a guest post by Torquil Dick-Erikson, a journalist specialising comparative criminal procedure

From the Daily Express, published on 18th July 2020:

"David Frost is understood to be eyeing his first breakthrough in the future relationship negotiations after holding talks with his EU counterpart Michel Barnier in Brussels. The pair agreed to put added emphasis on Britain’s future security pact with the EU as a potential landing zone for an agreement emerged. The two sides will hold four separate sessions on “law enforcement and judicial cooperation” as the Capital hosts its first ever round of negotiations with Brussels." [emphasis added]

A "security pact" is exactly what Theresa May was talking about in her notorious speech in Munich in 2018 (on the eightieth anniversary of another notorious European pact agreed in Munich!).

It is looking very much as if we are heading towards a reconfirmation of the European Arrest Warrant, indefinitely, after Brexit, as Amber Rudd, May's Home Secretary, told Parliament she wanted in early March 2017. And of course we shall doubtless remain signed up to the ECHR, whose credibility is the basis for the feasibility of the EAW.

Nearly everyone in Britain thinks the EAW is merely about catching criminals.

After over 350 years of peaceful constitutional development British (unique in Europe), we have lost sight of the fact that the "power to punish" is the supreme power of any State.

The UK must not allow any part of it to remain in the hands of Brussels. If it is, our independence can be extinguished at will, by whoever holds it.

The EAW can be used not just to catch criminals, but also for political purposes, to stifle opposition and criticism. It has already, in Britain, against at least two victims - Alexander Adamescu, wanted on an EAW from Rumania, and Professor Clara Ponsati, on an EAW from Spain. Professor Ponsati, a slightly-built grey-haired lady who teaches Economics at St Andrews University, was the object of an EAW issued by Spain against her on an accusation of "violent rebellion" because she had had a post in the Catalan separatist movement. In the event Spain withdrew the EAW against her, but if she returns to her home country she risks 25 years in prison.

The EAW, allowing arrest and lengthy preventive imprisonment while showing no evidence, is repugnant to section 38 of Magna Carta, and so should be struck down. This could and should happen in a British court, but it has not happened yet. See: https://campaignforanindependentbritain.org.uk/the-eaw-is-unconstitutional-here-is-how-it-can-be-struck-down/

People might feel reassured, since the EAW-participating States (all EU-members) are signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights. They are unaware that, amongst its other shortcomings, the ECHR, like most of the continental European States, has, for example, no place for Habeas Corpus. In one case, it decided that up to 5 years was a "reasonable time" for a suspect to wait in prison with no public hearing and no formal charge, for, as the Court said, in its decision to reject an application from a man who had waited 4 years and 11 months, "preventive detention is intended ... to facilitate the preliminary investigation". See: https://www.brugesgroup.com/blog/the-european-convention-and-court-of-human-rights-have-no-place-for-habeas-corpus

At the end of his travails, the man was acquitted on all counts. That was an extreme case, but it is now in the jurisprudence (settled doctrine) of the ECHR.

There are many other cases of innocent victims who have suffered lengthy imprisonment for nothing, like the well-known case of Andrew Symeou. There is the case of Colin Dines, a retired British judge and a constituent of the Rt. Hon. Dominic Raab, now Foreign Secretary, who was whisked off in chains to a prison in Rome, for an investigation which months later collapsed completely, and no charges were brought.

Armed with the EAW, the European Public Prosecutor (now up and running - see https://www.brugesgroup.com/blog/here-comes-the-european-public-prosecutor ), and indeed any other Prosecutor in Europe, can have anyone in the UK arrested and forcibly transported to lengthy imprisonment (months and even more) in Europe on trumped-up accusations if they feel so inclined, since they need show no evidence for a very long time while they "investigate the prisoner", and under the EAW no British court is allowed to see, let alone assess, if there be any evidence of a prima facie case to answer. Under the EAW we have to assume that the requesting State has already assembled any such evidence. (All too often, an unfounded assumption.)

But meanwhile the ensuing publicity (doubtless amplified by certain parts of the MSM) can utterly destroy the reputation of the person concerned. Think of all the mischief they could wreak in the run-up to the next General Election, to the benefit of a "Rejoiner" party or faction...! In continental Europe political careers have been ruined by a maverick judiciary (which usually includes prosecutors but excludes defenders). Keeping the EAW will allow them to do it to us too.

The point is, as Steven Woolfe, a barrister and sometime MEP, wrote, "If we have not left the European Arrest Warrant, then we have not left the European Union." See: https://brexitcentral.com/havent-left-eaw-havent-left-eu/

Lord Lamont pointed out the manifold dangers of accepting the EAW, in a powerful speech delivered during the debate on the Extradition Bill in 2003 in the Lords: https://www.brugesgroup.com/media-centre/speeches/86-research/1082-the-dangers-of-the-eu-arrest-warrant

Of course these warning voices were ignored  by the Labour government in 2003, and again by David Cameron and Theresa May in 2013. These leaders blithely and blindly accepted, and then reconfirmed, this fetter on our freedom.

But that was before the British people had spoken in 2016. They must not be betrayed now.

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  • Andrew Smith
    commented 2020-07-24 08:20:21 +0100
    Well done Torquil for that exc ellent summary of the position with first class references to other papers on the subject. The question, always, is how to prevent the government signingh up to perpetual EAW. The political class continue to look for ways of tethering us to the EU and most Conservative MPs are either Remainers or disinterested in continuing to fight for freedom; they want to forget about the EU debate as soon as possible.

    Where is our leverage.