Ed: the following article was meant as a comment post, replying to a comment by Ralph Prothero on the letter by TDE we published here on Saturday, 31st October. You can find Ralph Prothero’s comment post at the link given. Due to its length we publish it as an article in its own right and we do so moreover so that this debate won’t sink below the horizon.
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A possible scenario that we can envisage would be in the run-up to a general election, where we’d have a Brexiteer set of candidates versus a Rejoiner set. A few weeks prior to a vote, requests for arrest and extradition could be received, say, against certain former MEPs, on accusations, perhaps, of “fiddling European Parliamentary expenses” or something equally defamatory.
If the UK-EU extradition arrangements then in place were a replica of the existing EAW, as I fear they might be under a “security treaty” now being discussed, but not publicised, in Brussels, then, say, Nigel Farage or whoever, would be trussed up and shipped over to a dungeon in Brussels, on the orders of the European Public Prosecutor, or perhaps a Belgian Prosecutor acting on instructions. No questions could be asked by a British court, and there would be no obligation on the Prosecution to produce any evidence, nor any right under local laws of the prisoner to a speedy public hearing in open court, where he might demand to see the evidence of a prima facie case against him.
According to our own Supreme Court, ruling in the Assange case, any European Prosecutor is a “judicial authority” who can give orders to a British judge. This ruling took no account of the fact that the British co-inventor of a “European Warrant for Arrest”, originally contained in the Corpus Juris proposal, admitted to the Chairman of the Lords’ Committee that examined the Corpus Juris embryo criminal code for all Europe in 1999, that this was a “misunderstanding arising from a mis-translation” for which he took responsibility, and that his intention had that a British court should be able to “weigh the matter up” and decide for themselves. The Lords’ Committee eventually rejected the whole Corpus Juris proposal. This did not prevent the European Arrest Warrant from being inserted, as thus misunderstood and mis-translated, into the Extradition Act 2003 where it has been on our Statute Book ever since, causing numbers of cases of severe injustice (one innocent victim was even a British judge – Colin Dines).
In the possible scenario we are envisaging, the British public would be faced with the fact that a “judicial authority” had requested an arrest and an extradition to imprisonment “on remand”. Since this sort of thing can only happen in the UK if there is a strong prima facie case based on hard evidence already collected by the prosecution, most people would assume that this was also true in Europe. The fact that the Warrant had been issued by a “judicial authority” would make the case of guilt look even more plausible. The MPs who by a vast majority voted to reconfirm the EAW, and the media who failed to oppose it, in 2013, would be under the same misconception. The (groundless) doctrine of “mutual confidence and recognition of each other’s judicial systems and decisions”, never having been properly examined or debated, would hold.
Since the matter would be up to a foreign court, our rules on “contempt of court” would not restrain the anti-Brexit sections of our media from coming out in full-throated support of the prosecution “case”. The Prosecuting authorities would release/leak “unofficially” tit-bits of innuendo which could be taken up by unscrupulous media to influence public opinion.
They could actually arrest as many people as they liked, and pin any sort of accusation on them. There would be uproar in the UK, public opinion would be disoriented, the Tory Party would be split, the Brexit Party discredited, and the chances of a Rejoiner set of candidates winning seats would be considerably increased.
We might then find ourselves with a Rejoiner majority in Parliament. If that happened, it would be said that the “people of Britain had changed their minds since the 2016 referendum” and Brexit would be terminated. The UK would be back inside the EU, only of course without the opt-outs from Schengen, the Euro, etc, or any rebate on our subscription.
Just if readers think the above scenario sounds quite outlandish, consider the following cases, where judicial powers of arbitrary accusation, arrest and imprisonment have been used and abused in EU states as a battering-ram to destroy political opponents:
Last year Matteo Salvini, as Italy’s Minister of the Interior (Home Secretary), ordered a boatful of some 140 migrants not to dock in an Italian port (for some days, while arrangements were sought to have them redistributed to other EU states). His party was polled as the one with most support in the centre-right coalition, and he was hoping to win an early election. The Italian judiciary have now accused him of “kidnapping” (“sequestro di persona”) and he is facing a criminal trial with potentially a very lengthy prison sentence. Since this case was publicised his popularity in the polls has gone down, and he is now looking much less likely to ever become Premier.
Dan Adamescu owned a Romanian opposition newspaper. He was arrested and imprisoned on orders from the Romanian Prosecution service, and died in prison, after not receiving the medical treatment he needed. The new supremo European Public Prosecutor selected by the EU institutions, Ms Laura Kovesi, was a leading member of the Romanian Prosecution service at the time. A report hosted on www.tfa.net gives details, also of Romanian judiciary working hand in glove with the not-so-ex Securitate, Ceausescu’s equivalent of the KGB.
A Catalan slightly-built, grey-haired lady, Professor Clara Ponsati, who teaches economics at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, had been a member of President Puigdemont’s separatist Catalan cabinet. For this she was pursued in Scotland by a European Arrest Warrant issued by the Spanish judiciary, on accusations of “Violent rebellion against the Spanish State”. Her lawyer was preparing to put up a spirited defence. The Spaniards withdrew the EAW against her, and against Puigdemont himself. However colleagues in Spain have been in prison awaiting trial for many long months now, and they all face sentences of up to 25 years. She can expect the same fate, if she ever returns to Spain.
We in Britain are accustomed to thinking that judicial powers authorising violent behaviour by agents of the State are only used against criminals. This is not so in many other parts of the world, including Europe, where these powers can be and sometimes are used against political opponents.
The essential thing to avoid our own political processes from being disrupted in this way, and to keep everyone in Britain safe from arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, is for the extradition arrangements that will replace the EAW next year to allow a British court, faced with an extradition request from an EU or any other State, to demand to see and to assess any evidence of wrong-doing already collected by the requesting State, and if it considers it to be insufficient, to refuse the extradition.
The government must reveal if it will demand and insist that any future extradition arrangement with the EU will include the reacquisition of these powers by a British court, or not. Until it does tell us, we are authorised to believe the worst.
If it fails to do this, we should expect the Express to raise its voice and demand that it do so.
It is said we must regain control “over our laws, our borders, our cash and our fish”.
But unless we regain control over our bodies, we will control nothing.
P.S.: There have been numerous articles in The Express mentioning a “trade deal”. Occasionally it mentions a “trade and security deal”, but AFAIK has never gone into details about the “security” aspect. Of course the security aspect also includes Defence, which has received some coverage, thanks to the efforts of David Banks and Veterans for Britain.