Our MEP Gerard Batten continues with the next few answers to the frequently-asked questions you might have about this summer’s referendum. If you have any further questions, please contact Gerard on firstname.lastname@example.org
- Other sources, like Nick Clegg MP, say that a much smaller number of our laws come from the EU. What is the truth?
You may hear quoted figures of only 9%, or perhaps only 13%, as representing the percentage of our laws coming from the EU. That is a misrepresentation of the contents of a House of Commons Briefing Paper that stated about 13.2% of our laws come from the EU. But the paper warns that the figure does not take into account the large number of EU Regulations that automatically pass into UK law. The 13.2% figure refers solely to Acts of Parliament required to transpose EU Directives into law. Taking Regulations into account, the recalculated figure is more like 65%. That is within the range described under answer 17., which was between 50% and 80% in any given year, varying with the EU’s legislative output.
- Haven’t measures such as introducing the European Arrest Warrant made us safer from criminals and terrorists?
The simple answer is that they have not. The European Arrest Warrant is just one part of an EU system of criminal justice being created which supersedes the English legal system. Britain was one of the first countries (it was back in 1870) to pass an Extradition Act. That Act required prima facie evidence to be presented to the English extradition court for it to satisfy itself that there was sufficient evidence against the accused person to justify surrendering him or her to a foreign judicial system.
The 1870 Act worked well until the then Conservative Government replaced it with the Extradition Act of 1989, the small print of which allowed the European Convention on Extradition to be ratified in 1990. This removed the requirement for prima facie evidence to be presented to the English extradition court.
The Extradition Act 2003 removed further safeguards for the accused person. Under the Act, ‘extradition’ became ‘judicial surrender’. It allowed a British citizen to be removed to any other EU member state purely on the strength of a form completed by the relevant foreign authority; this can be purely on ‘suspicion’. No prima facie evidence is presented to the English court and indeed they have no power to prevent ‘judicial surrender’. This goes entirely against the centuries-old English legal protection enshrined in Habeas Corpus which prevented imprisonment without evidence and without a charge being formally laid for a specific offence under English law.
This is because of the EU doctrine of ‘mutual recognition’ which says all EU legal, judicial and penal systems are of equal standing – which is palpably not so. British citizens can be sent abroad purely at the request of a foreign examining magistrate and locked up for months or even years while investigations take place. In contrast, British Police cannot request extradition of a suspect to the UK unless and until they have fully investigated and amassed sufficient evidence for a charge to be laid.
This highlights the fundamental difference between the Continental and the English legal systems: under Continental ones, people may be and are imprisoned for long periods while accusations are investigated, whereas under the English system people may only be imprisoned (on remand) after a specific criminal offence has been fully investigated and charges laid. The English legal system evolved over 800 years as much to protect the innocent as to convict the guilty. Those principles are being sacrificed in favour of an EU system of criminal law.
- I have heard that the courts can prevent extradition if the accused person’s human rights are at risk. Is this true?
That may be the case in theory, but in practice it does not work. All EU member states have signed the European Convention of Human Rights. The English court will take the view that, because EU member states have signed the Convention, under the doctrine of ‘mutual recognition’ they cannot then be deemed to be in breach of it – even if all the known facts contradict this.
For example, it is well-known that countries such as Greece, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and others, are frequently in breach of the Convention, because of their institutionalised corruption or because of the conditions in their prisons; nevertheless and despite this, suspects will be ‘judicially surrendered’ to them. The author has been present in the English Court of Appeal when such a judgement has been made.
- Don’t we need to be in the EU to help protect us from organised crime and terrorism?
The EU’s open borders policy has put us more, not less, at risk from criminals and terrorists. The open borders policy has meant that Europe’s criminals have migrated to where they think they can most lucratively operate, and that means countries like Britain. The EU’s Freedom of Movement Directive (Directive 2004/38, Article 27(2)) says that ‘previous criminal convictions are not enough to justify exclusion’. So even if we know someone to be a convicted criminal, we have no power to prevent his or her entry to our country. We have seen convicted murderers, rapists and paedophiles come from Europe to the UK and then commit more appalling crimes over here.
Metropolitan Police Chief Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe revealed recently that 29% of the Met Police’s 250,000 arrests in a year were of foreign nationals (admittedly, not all being EU citizens), but of these, only 13% resulted in a charge or summons (The Evening Standard, Friday 18th March 2016). The excuse for not being able to bring them to justice was because it was not possible to check their DNA, fingerprints or previous convictions, and so they were released.
Open borders also aid terrorists. We have seen terrorist attacks in a number of European capitals made by terrorists who can easily cross borders under the EU’s Schengen open borders system. Britain is not in Schengen, but any EU citizen has the right to come to Britain if he or she so wishes. Europe has plenty of its own home-grown terrorists who have free access to the UK, but we also saw how, in the Paris attacks of November 2015, at least one of the murderous terrorists was operating on a forged passport. Whenever these terrorist attacks occur, the EU uses the act as an excuse to call for yet more power over police and judicial matters and to create or enlarge the EU’s own security and intelligence services.
Writing in the magazine Prospect, MI6‘s former head (1999-2004), Sir Richard Dearlove, made it clear that Britain would be safer outside the EU. He stated that leaving the EU would make it easier to deport terrorists and control our borders. He added that Europe would not turn its back on Britain or our intelligence services, because “Britain is Europe’s leader in intelligence and security matters and gives much more than it gets in return”. (Daily Mail, article by James Slack and Tamara Cohen. 23rd March 2016)
When the UK is out of the EU, the organised crime and terrorist threat would not go away. But then we would be free to control our own borders and we could continue, as we have always done, to share our intelligence with our allies. But allowing our intelligence services to be merged with an EU intelligence service would be a tremendous mistake.
Part 6 follows tomorrow.