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Why the ECHR is not fit for purpose

In this guest post, Torquil Dick-Erikson, explains why the ECHR does not even do what it says on the tin, so it is not much good for protecting our human rights. 

Here are some details of cases showing that the ECHR is really no good for protecting human rights as we understand them in Britain, and indeed in some cases the Court itself has violated the rights of applicants.

This is a court that has ruled:

  • that the 10-year old torturers and murderers of 2-year-old baby James Bulger did "not get a fair trial" and were entitled to compensation...  (Thompson and Venables vs the United Kingdom - 1999)
  • But that it was right to give a criminal conviction to street market traders in Sunderland for selling bananas by the pound weight as their customers preferred, instead of by the Kilo as Eurolaw demanded? (Thoburn and others vs the UK - 2004)
  • And that five years in pre-trial detention for an INNOCENT suspect with no public hearing was "reasonable" under article 6 of the Convention because "detention is intended to facilitate the preliminary investigation" (verbatim, in the Court's motivation !) (See Luciano Ferrari Bravo vs the Republic of Italy - 1984)

Over and above the vagaries of the Court, made up as it is of judges who are the political appointees of 46 governments, some with highly questionable Human Rights records of their own, there is a major shortcoming in the wording of the Convention itself. It does not in fact make provision for the fundamental right of anybody not to be imprisoned, even temporarily, without sufficient evidence of a prima facie case to answer. This is provided by Section 38 of Magna Carta (1215), and ensured for us in the laws of Habeas Corpus (Act of 1679). See more details in

If there be insufficient evidence, or none, then an arrest followed by a period of imprisonment, based merely on some clues, is what we consider to be “arbitrary”. The real reason for the arrest and imprisonment can be different from the declared reason. It can be political. In contrast to the ECHR, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights does ban specifically “Arbitrary arrest and imprisonment” in its article 9.

Other instances:

-Sabadistsch-Wolff vs Austria (2018): Ms Sabaditsch-Wolff, an Austrian citizen, said in a meeting, that the prophet Mohammed married a girl aged six and consummated the marriage when she was nine. And that in today's world he would have been had up for paedophilia. A member of the audience felt offended and reported her for hate-speech. She was tried for it, and convicted, again on appeal, and her conviction was confirmed by Austria's supreme court. She went on to take Austria to the ECtHR for violating art. 10, her right to freedom of speech, but that Court rejected her argument saying that protecting religious sentiment outweighed her right to freedom of speech. 

In effect the ECtHR upheld a de facto reinstituted criminal blasphemy law in Austria, certainly in favour of Muslims. It failed to uphold the right to freedom of speech.

-British novelist victim of medical homicide in Florence (a triple violation by the Court itself of three supposedly protected rights): The victim died from an intestinal occlusion after barium had been prescribed and fed to her in the absence of direct medical supervision, in violation of precise medical laws which are intended to stop the (usually lethal) administration of barium to a patient with an intestinal occlusion. The two doctors involved, and responsible, made verifiably untrue statements to the judicial investigators, and these were proven to be untrue by documentation which was presented to the investigators. During the four years of the investigation, the investigators completely ignored the untrue statements and the documentation presented, and dropped the case, shelving it as "insoluble". The malpractice, with its lethal effects, therefore went undetected and unsanctioned.

Having no further recourse as injured party under the Italian legal system, the victim's son applied to the ECtHR against the Republic of Italy under article 2 of the Convention, on grounds of wilful and deliberate failure to conduct the investigation with due diligence and hence to protect the right to life, affording its violators an undeserved immunity and impunity. The Court left the applicant under an illegal gagging order during the two years of its deliberations, thus violating his right to freedom of expression (supposedly protected by art. 10 of the Convention), and in the end rejected his application, in its turn, not considering and refuting with counterarguments, but simply ignoring, the facts and the documentation he had produced in evidence regarding how the Florentine investigators had simply airbrushed them out. Only when he was told of the rejection of his application, did he learn that the panel of seven judges of the ECtHR who heard the case included not one, but two, Italian judges, one representing Italy, and the other standing in under the flag of San Marino. The second of these two was as Italian as the first and had worked for the Italian State Advocate's office, which was a party to the case, having defended Italy in the proceedings.

His right to an "impartial tribunal", supposedly safeguarded by article 6, was thereby violated by the European Court of Human Rights itself, since this panel included two judges from the country being accused, so the tribunal did not even have the appearance of impartiality. (see Torquil Dick-Erikson vs Italy, case 37900/97, greater details included in his submission to the UK Ministry of Justice delivered on 8th March 2022 as part of the Ministry’s HRA reform consultation; readers can decide for themselves if the Court acted with justice and honesty or not.)

Cases where the ECHR could have been invoked, if it had included a valid Habeas Corpus right, but was not, in particular in the light of the Ferrari  Bravo case showing the total inadequacy of article 6 in this regard:

-Colin and Andrew Dines and two others: Colin Dines, a retired British judge, had been involved in some business dealings with a major Italian Telecoms company, Fastweb. Fastweb's top management came under investigation, and were arrested and imprisoned, by the Italian judiciary on a suspicion of conducting VAT carousel fraud.

The arrest of a suspect, on the basis of mere clues, often takes place at the outset of an investigation in Napoleonic-inquisitorial jurisdictions (ie practically all over the continent). Investigations are then conducted with the suspect in prison for the duration of the investigation, with no right to a public hearing (no Habeas Corpus). As we saw the ECtHR ruled in another case that 4 yrs and 11 months of preventive detention with no public hearing is no violation of the Convention because (verbatim) "detention facilitates the preliminary [!] investigation". The pointlessness of the ECHR is thus shown up, as regards the fundamental right of freedom from arbitrary arrest and imprisonment.

After many long months in prison the case against the Fastweb management collapsed, and their CEO gave interviews in Italian media protesting at the treatment he had received.

While the investigation/prosecution was still underway, the judicial investigators had found Colin Dines's name in some of the Fastweb papers, and said "Let's call him in for questioning". So they issued an EAW against him, as well as his son and two other Englishmen. The story got some coverage in the Daily Mail and the Telegraph, but did not make many significant waves. Dominic Raab, his MP, raised it in Parliament, and said later "The case has stuck not only in my memory but also in my throat"; it may be hoped that now he is Justice Secretary, it will be possible to lay the ground to remedy situations such as this.

As I understand it Colin Dines had a heart attack on the eve of his extradition, so was not himself extradited, though his son Andrew and two others were. They suffered over a year of preventive detention in Rome, first in prison and later under house arrest in a hotel, and were then induced to accept a shortened sentence of some three years in exchange for not putting up a defence, which meant they could go straight home, since the last two years of their sentence could be suspended. They were told by their Italian lawyers that under Italian law this did not mean they had admitted guilt. But later it emerged that they had been misinformed, and in the UK they were told that it did, and they were landed with a millionaire demand from an Italian court to pay back the "proceeds of their crime". This demand was confirmed by a UK Court.

Meanwhile Colin Dines himself, having had a heart attack on the eve of his extradition which therefore did not take place, was tried in Italy - in absentia, which is allowed under Italian law - and found not guilty (as indeed were the Italian defendants in Fastweb). No confiscation order was issued against him.  

It can here be seen here that a gross injustice against the other three was caused, against which the ECHR offered no remedy.

The lack of Habeas Corpus in continental Europe and the failure of the European Convention and Court on Human Rights to safeguard innocent suspects from very lengthy months and sometimes years of preventive detention, is apparent.

This failure is masked by the Convention's use of the highly elastic weasel word "reasonable" in article 6. Hours or at the most a few days are thought "reasonable" in the UK, whereas for the ECtHR, as we have seen, it is thought "reasonable" for a suspect to wait up to 5 years in prison for his first public hearing in open court. This prospect of apparently endless pre-trial detention was used, with deception, to pressure Andrew Dines and the two others into accepting what turned out to be a plea bargain, which did release them from their state of detention allowing them to go home at once, but left them with a criminal record and a multimillion pound liability to "pay back the proceeds of their crime".

- Andrew Symeou: This case is well-known as an instance of injustice perpetrated by the European Arrest Warrant which requires no evidence of guilt to be shown by the requesting country to any court in the country being requested to extradite a person. We are told, by Policemen's associations and other interested parties, that we must keep the EAW as is, because it provides a "streamlined" extradition system. This must sound brutally ironic to someone like Andrew Symeou, who after a swift extradition from the UK to Greece, was then held in a dreadful prison for 11 months, before his first public hearing, where the case against him collapsed completely and was dismissed owing to lack of any credible prosecution evidence. The only evidence in fact had been beaten out of his friends by Greek police, who made them sign identical statements in Greek, a language they did not understand, and which they retracted as soon as they had reached the safety of England. If only the Extradition Act 2003 had allowed a UK court to examine the evidence against him, his troubles would have been over in a few days. The proceedings would have been far more "streamlined"...

As it was, the ECHR provided no remedy against his detention for 11 months with no public hearing - indeed that Court as we have seen provides up to 5 years as "reasonable" since "detention is intended to facilitate the preliminary investigation". In fact Andrew's lawyers,nboth in England and in Greece, did not even apply to the Court, since it was obvious that it would provide no remedy.

- Prof. Clara Ponsati: A Catalan lady in her sixties working as an Economics professor at St Andrews University, she had been a member of the Catalan government of Sr Puigdemont, which attempted, by peaceful means, to establish the independence of Catalonia from Spain (rather as the SNP has tried to take Scotland away from the UK). She was arrested in Scotland on an EAW from Spain, which charged her with the crime of "violent rebellion", carrying a potential sentence of around 20 years. Unlike the Basque movement ETA, the Catalans only used peaceful methods, such as a referendum which was obstructed by the Spanish Guardia Civil which baton-charged citizens in the street to stop them from going to cast their votes. Other members of the Catalan government were arrested in Spain and held for many long months in prison before being convicted to lengthy prison sentences.
The ECHR offered no remedy, and AFAIK her lawyers did not even try to avail themselves of its services. At no time did she or her associates advocate, let alone practise, violence in their pursuit of Catalan independence. The action by Spain was clearly a violation of her political freedom, and of her right to freedom of expression (art. 10).

There are many other innocent victims of European Arrest Warrants, extradited from Britain  who faced long months in continental jails before the lack of evidence caused the case against them to collapse. Fair Trials Abroad has concerned itself with numbers of cases, and will have a list of them, with details.

- Chris Lees, a Gloucestershire estate agent working in Spain, who was falsely accused of drug dealing, arrested and beaten up by the Guardia Civil and held for over 1 year with no public hearing. At his first public hearing the case against him was dismissed for lack of evidence. His case was related in detail by him in a full-page article in Freedom Today, around 20 years ago, I think, during the time of Norris McWhirter. No remedy was available from the ECHR.

- 1000 persons locked up for long months every year "pending investigation", eventually declared to be innocent, but whose lives, livelihoods and reputations are thereby ruined. It is mentioned in my latest article in The Express ( ). This is the figure for Italy, where it has been documented by the small but significant Radical Party, and was shown on Italian State TV by the journalist Alberto Matano in two ten-week series of weekly broadcasts, titled "I am innocent" ("Sono innocente"). Each week he interviewed two - innocent - victims of the system who told their harrowing stories.
The ECHR was never mentioned during the broadcasts, for this type of practice is obviously not covered by the European Convention on Human Rights. It is clearly not confined to Italy, but is common practice in many if not most European States which are governed under the inquisitorial system of criminal justice. Under the UK’s Extradition Act 2003, all EU states are exempted from having to present any indication of evidence of a prima facie case when requesting the extradition, or as it now called, the "surrender", of a suspect. Despite Brexit, the government have confirmed this exemption to still be in force, when replying to two Parliamentary Questions, from Lord Pearson in 2020 and last year from Lord Moylan. Under that Act, every year the UK hands over people with no evidence provided and no questions asked. Numbers of those thus "surrendered" turn out eventually to be innocent, yet they are cast into this sort of meat-grinder.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights does ban "arbitrary" arrests and imprisonments in its article 9.

The ECHR does not. In addition the implementation of the UDHR, if embedded in a new British Bill of Rights, would be adjudicated by UK courts, not by a foreign court made up of the political nominees of 46 countries, some with pretty dodgy human rights records of their own. The UDHR could therefore be used by the UK as an international bench-mark.

It would then be obvious that by leaving the ECHR, and replacing it with the UDHR, the UK was not “scrapping human rights”, as is currently claimed, but restoring and enhancing them.

©Torquil Dick-Erikson, 14/03/2023. 

Torquil Dick-Erikson specialises as a legal journalist in comparative criminal procedure and is author of The European Constitution against the British Constitution (2004) and The Coming Tsunami (2010) about the very different systems of criminal justice and of policing that the UK might have thrust upon it from Brussels.

A sad and sorry page for British justice

The following is a guest post by Torquil Dick-Erikson. For the last 35 years Torquil has specialised as a legal journalist in comparative criminal procedure.

Alexander Adamescu is to be extradited from the UK to Romania, where he is wanted for prosecution on an accusation that he, together with his late father Dan Adamescu, bribed judges in Romania in 2013 in a case concerning a construction company. Mr Alexander Adamescu was living in England at the time of the alleged bribery.

He has asserted that the real reason was that his father controlled an opposition newspaper, Romania Libera, and that the accusations against them were politically motivated, by the then Romanian government. And that the Romanian prosecution service, working closely with the re-labelled but not-so-ex Securitate (Ceausescu’s secret police, analogous to Russia’s KGB), is using its judicial powers of violent coercion as a political battering-ram to bludgeon the opposition into silence. The prosecution service was headed by Ms Laura Kovesi – who has since been selected by Brussels as the EU’s supremo European Public Prosecutor.

Ms Kovesi wrote to the UK court hearing the extradition request, to deny these allegations. 

Whether or not the Adamescus gave money to Romanian judges is not the point at issue here in Britain. Indeed Adamescu's father had good arguments to show he was not guilty, but the unfair trial he received did not allow him to argue the case properly.

This case is important because it shows the cavalier manner in which two UK courts disregarded the compelling evidence that his rights to a fair trial and to humane prison conditions will be at serious risk if he is extradited. They have manifested a posture of supine acceptance of whatever a foreign Prosecutor may say. This places anyone in Britain at risk of arbitrary arrest and lengthy detention abroad on the mere say-so of any EU Prosecutor.

Mr Adamescu argued that he would not be getting a fair trial and that the prison conditions in Romania were inhumane, so that his fundamental rights under the ECHR would be violated.

District Judge John Zani swept aside these objections and ruled that he should be extradited. The High Court upheld this decision, and denied Mr Adamescu permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.

The heart of the reasoning behind DJ Zani’s decision can be found in this para. of his judgement:

328: I return to one of the basic principles of extradition. It is a rebuttable presumption that requests are made in good faith and that, absent compelling evidence to the contrary, assertions made by or on behalf of requesting Judicial Authorities should be accepted by the requested State. The onus is on the defence to rebut the presumption with compelling evidence. I have not received such evidence in this case.(*)

We should note:

  1. There surely does exist “compelling evidence”, in the form of what amounts to a deathbed, witnessed, written statement from the requested person’s own father, that, on the same charge, handled by the same prosecution service, as his own, he did not receive a fair trial, was kept in horrendous prison conditions, and was refused necessary medical treatment. This occasioned his death in custody. This statement is not mentioned in the judgement, which completely ignores this compelling piece of evidence (**). I give some details of the statement below.
  2. Mr Zani clearly preferred to believe the assertions presented by Ms Laura Kovesi, and those of other Romanian authorities that after extradition Alexander Adamescu would be accommodated in fair and humane prison conditions, rather than those of Alexander’s father, the late Dan Adamescu.
  3. Mr Zani states in para. 328 that “it is a rebuttable presumption” that UK courts must in any case believe whatever assertions might be made by a “Judicial Authority” in a “requesting State” (he does not qualify this, but one must suppose he is referring only to EU states). However by sweeping aside, indeed under the carpet, thus wilfully airbrushing out of the picture, the powerful and compelling evidence of Alexander Adamescu’s late father, he shows that for him it is actually not a “rebuttable” presumption, but an irrefutable presumption – i.e. a dogma, an article of faith. He, a Judge in her Majesty’s Court, in effect is accepting the assertions of a foreign Prosecutor as Holy Writ.
  4. Moreover. Mr Zani’s statement in para. 328 effectively reverses the age-old principle in UK law of the  Presumption of Innocence. He says here that the “onus is on the defence to rebut” with “compelling evidence” the assertions advanced by the “Judicial” Authority of the requesting State. In this case the assertions are advanced by the Romanian Prosecutor, Ms Laura Kovesi. For our British way of thinking a Prosecutor is not a “Judicial Authority”, but a mere party to a case, on a par with the Defence. 
  5. Now the idea of a “European Warrant for Arrest” was first mooted in the EU’s Corpus Juris project for a single uniform embryo criminal code for all Europe in 1997, and it included the possibility for a European Public Prosecutor to “instruct” a national judge to issue a Warrant. When Lord Hope of Craighead was chairing the Lords’ Committee which examined (and ultimately rejected) Corpus Juris, he questioned Professor John Spencer QC of Cambridge University, the British co-author of the project, on this point. Professor Spencer admitted that the idea of a Prosecutor giving instructions to a judge was a “misunderstanding” arising from a mis-translation from the French original. He said “Certainly we meant coercive acts of all sorts to be subject to the authorisation, after weighing the matter up, of the judge in the national state” (HL62, Session 1998-99, 9th Report, Minutes of evidence, p. 8, para 36). Nevertheless one part of the Corpus Juris project that was accepted by the UK was the European Warrant for Arrest, and it was accepted, and incorporated into our Statute Book in the very form that its originator had disowned as a mis-translation. 
  6. In the well-known case of the Swedish Prosecution Service against Julian Assange, Dinah Rose QC, defending, raised this very point with the Supreme Court, which ruled that for the purposes of the European Arrest Warrant legislation, a continental “Prosecution Authority” must be accepted by UK courts as a “Judicial Authority”. 
  7. This is surely a startling departure from a basic principle of British justice, that a judge must accept whatever assertions are made by a Prosecutor (and a foreign prosecutor, working to a different system from ours), and that the “onus is on the defence” to provide “compelling evidence” to the contrary.
  8. Possibly to be explained by the statement from the Home Office on Dec 1st last that there are “no plans for extradition to EU States to be made dependent on a UK court ruling that there is a prima facie case to answer”?
  9. We must conclude that underlying these somewhat bizarre statements is the principle of “Mutual confidence and recognition” by all EU states covered by the Framework Decision, as to the fairness and justice of each other’s judicial decisions, which has to be presumed by UK courts. This can only be meaningful if in reality each member State does ensure fair trials for each defendant and humane prison conditions.
  10. Dan Adamescu’s testimony rebuts quite compellingly any such presumption. In the case of Romania and in particular its treatment of Alexander’s father, unfairly tried and convicted on the self-same accusation, this presumption is shown clearly to be based on a false premise. 
  11. Evidence from other extraditees that “Romania has not abided by assurances previously given to the UK authorities” is dismissed by Mr Zani who chooses to give greater weight to the denial by the Romanian “Judicial” (i.e. Prosecutory) Authority, doubtless in obeisance to the doctrine of “mutual confidence and recognition” which under current legislation is evidently thought by him to override all other considerations, especially since our Supreme Court ruled that an EU Prosecution Authority has Judicial status. 

The High Court compounded and confirmed this view and the consequent injustice wrought by Mr Zani. It did mention the statement by Dan Adamescu, and here is how it somewhat airily dismissed it: 

171. We do not see any force in [defence counsel] Mr Keith QC’s criticism that the District Judge [Zani] wrongly ignored “the obvious and direct comparator to the appellant’s position and likely treatment”, namely Mr Adamescu senior. We understand of course why the appellant is distressed by the belief that prison conditions led to his father’s death, but we do not accept the premise of Mr Keith’s submission. There are obvious reasons why Mr Adamescu Senior is not a direct comparator in this respect. By way of examples, Mr Adamescu Senior was not extradited and did not have the benefit of the assurances which are offered in the appellant’s case; and the detention centre at which Mr Adamescu was initially held has been refurbished since he was there. 

172. We accept that the DJ might have dealt more fully than he did with the Article 3 issue. He was not however required to address every argument put forward on behalf of the appellant over a lengthy hearing. We are satisfied that on the basis of the evidence before him, and in particular in the light of the assurances given by the respondent, his decision was not wrong. […] (***)

These passages contain various gems:

  • The fact that Dan Adamescu died in prison because of grievous fault on the part of the prison authorities and their refusal to allow him necessary and timely medical treatment is dismissively referred to as a mere “belief” on the part of his son, when in fact an examination of Dan’s statement shows that it is not just a belief but a fact, as can be verified by examining the text of the statement, which the High Court omitted to do.
  • Dan’s statement does not actually say that it was “the prison conditions” as such which “led to his death” as the High Court somewhat hastily sums it up; his death was specifically due to the fact that the authorities refused to let Dan receive proper medical treatment for his very serious condition, even in the face of  his willingness to pay for it himself.
  • The High Court gives what it calls an “obvious [?!] reason” why Mr Adamescu Senior’s dreadful experience is “not a direct comparator”, in that he “was not extradited and did not have the benefit of the assurances which are offered in the appellant’s [Alexander Adamescu’s] case”.
  • Hah! The implication of this line of reasoning is clear, though absurd: since Dan Adamescu was “not extradited” but arrested in Romania and thus unable to enjoy the “benefit of assurances”, which are in contrast to be enjoyed [?!] by his son, then it has to follow that the High Court is of the opinion that anyone who is arrested in Romania runs a high risk of undergoing the frightful treatment meted out to Dan Adamescu. This treatment is not examined by the High Court. Yet Dan’s description is not contested by the High Court, which, though not examining any of its details, takes it as read. The High Court appears to be quite unperturbed and ready to accept that the Romanian authorities may regularly flout the “humane prison conditions” requirement of the ECHR for those who are unfortunate enough to fall into their clutches in Romania. Alexander however, having had the “benefit” of being arrested in the UK is supposedly able to enjoy the “benefit of the assurances” provided by those same authorities. 
  • The High Court does not consider in this context the testimony of other extraditees, who had been extradited to Romania on “assurances” which they say were not honoured. This was to have been considered by the lower court, but was then not allowed since the Romanian authorities decided not to (or asserted they were unable to) provide the necessary video-conferencing facilities for them to be cross-examined in the UK court. This testimony as to the untruthfulness of similar “assurances” is thereby erased.
  • The cherry on the cake is when they say “the detention centre at which Mr Adamescu was initially held has been refurbished [sic] since he was there.” They give no details … perhaps the hole in the ground in the corner of the room which was used as a lavatory has now been made somehow more … er, user-friendly? Or perhaps a wire-netting barrier has been provided to stop the rats from entering the cell through the drains?  
  • In para. 172 the High Court admits that DJ Zani did not deal as fully with the issue as he might have done. But then they write. “He was not however required to address every argument put forward on behalf of the appellant over a lengthy hearing.” So in effect they say that Zani was entitled to ignore, at his arbitrary choice, any arguments by the defence. The strong implication here is that these omissions were justified because the hearing was …“lengthy”! In effect no other reason is put forward to justify Zani’s refusal to consider a piece of crucial and compelling evidence. 
  • In para. 172 the High Court also writes, “We are satisfied that on the basis of the evidence before him, and in particular in the light of the assurances given by the respondent, his decision was not wrong.” Three remarks are in order here:
  1. Judge Zani did not decide on the basis of the evidence before him, since he wilfully ignored the compelling evidence of Dan Adamescu’s deathbed statement.
  2. The High Court judges do not feel confident enough to say “his decision was RIGHT”. This must be because they surely realise they are treading on thin ice, so they merely say “his decision was … not wrong.”
  3. They give the game away when they say  in particular in the light of the assurances given by the respondent”(ie the requesting State). In effect a British Court is turning itself into a rubber-stamp for a Romanian Prosecutor’s demand. Professor Spencer’s intention, as he announced it to Lord Hope, that “Certainly we meant coercive acts of all sorts to be subject to the authorisation, after weighing the matter up, of the judge in the national state” is here effectively belied. 

Mr Zani and the High Court judges would doubtless argue, in justification, that the law is as laid down in the Extradition Act 2003, and their job was merely to apply it.

Surely there is therefore a strong case for Parliament to amend that part of the TCA which continues to maintain the terms of the Extradition Act 2003 in this regard? The principle of “Mutual confidence and recognition”, certainly as expressed by Mr Zani, has scant basis in the case of Romania. Indeed, arguably, similar reasons can be found in the case of other EU member states which are governed by variants of the Napoleonic-inquisitorial system of criminal justice and procedure, so very different from, indeed alien to, ours. The principle of a-priori “mutual confidence and recognition” should be repealed, and the special preferential treatment for “Category 1”, ie EU states, abolished.

Let us now lift the carpet, look at some details of Dan Adamescu’s statement, and see just what Judge Zani had swept under it. 

So we ask – what about Dan's assertions as to the fact that he did not get a fair trial? Was there any discussion of these in Mr Zani’s court or in the High Court, and were any detailed counter-statements or arguments produced? I refer in particular to the facts about his trials in Romania, as he wrote,

- that his lawyer was not allowed to cross-examine the only prosecution witness, 

- that he and his lawyer were constantly interrupted by the judge, and 

- that the prosecution witness did not even turn up for any hearing in the Appeal Court which nevertheless confirmed his conviction ? 

None of  these items regarding the trial procedure used in Romania are addressed or considered by the High Court, let alone by Judge Zani in the lower court. They would appear outrageous in a UK context. Yet they have been passed in silence.

Likewise Dan’s description of how he and three other prisoners (Romanian judges accused of taking bribes) were cooped up in a small insufficiently ventilated cell with one tap that provided hot water for only two hours every week; and as for a lavatory they had to make do with a hole in the floor in the same room, over which he had to squat, and how, with age, infirmity and lack of exercise weakening his leg muscles, he often collapsed into his own excrement. 

Both humane prison conditions and a fair trial are considered "fundamental human rights" even by the ECHR, and if there be substantial grounds to fear they would be violated, this provides valid reasons, even under the Extradition Act 2003, for a UK court to refuse to execute an extradition request. It appears that the “assurances” provided by the Romanian authorities regarded only the prison conditions, and not the unfair procedures used during Dan’s trial, for which not even questionable “assurances” were provided. 

It should consequently be obvious that by denying these rights in favour of “assurances” from the Romanian Prosecution service, both Mr Zani and the High Court failed to deliver justice. 

The legal proceedings now appear to have been exhausted, and the Romanian government has applied pressure on the UK through the British Ambassador, to expedite the execution of this extradition. 

Some way must be found to stop this. If not, it would indeed be a sad and sorry page in the annals of British justice. Parliament must surely act to change the law and remove the quite unwarranted presumption that there are always valid grounds for “mutual confidence and recognition” with EU member states.



(*) Ref. Judgement by DJ John Zani:

(**) Ref. Dan Adamescu’s statement, he signed each page, witnessed by his own lawyer. Shortly after signing it he entered a coma and later died: &

(***) Ref. High Court judgement:



Possible threats to the UK's national security and to the security of every UK inhabitant from a security treaty with the EU

The following research by Torquil Dick-Erikson has been sent to the the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament (ISC). 

Here are some facts that we believe need to be brought to the attention of the ISC:

How many in government, at any level, are aware that the European Court of Human Rights declared that up to 5 years in prison awaiting, not just trial, but a prisoner's first appearance in a public hearing in open court, is perfectly legitimate, and a "reasonable time" under the Convention's article 6, because it believes that this preventive "detention ... is intended to facilitate the preliminary investigation"? This judgement, rejecting an application from an Italian against Italy, dates from the mid-eighties, but is now necessarily a part of that Court's jurisprudence, ie its settled doctrine, so is relevant today, and shows clearly that the Court and the Convention have no place for Habeas Corpus. See details in the second half of this article. 

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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]

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The greatest stimulant to economic success worldwide is individual freedom

The following letter by Christopher Gill, a former chairman of The Freedom Association, was published in the Sunday Telegraph last weekend.

"SIR – James Crisp’s report about possible compromises in the Brexit negotiations regarding the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) is alarming.

"If the Boris Johnson administration thinks there can be any compromise on matters directly affecting individual liberty, it betrays the very principles it purports to uphold.

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