Letter from Christopher Gill, Chairman
of The Freedom Association
Are you aware that acceptance of the European
Union arrest warrant will expose the people you are elected to
represent to 14 foreign systems of criminal justice? How much
is known about those foreign systems and, more particularly, do
any of them provide the equivalent safeguard of Habeas Corpus?
As you know every British subject currently
enjoys the protection of Habeas Corpus which ensures that all
arrested persons have the absolute right to a public hearing within
24 hours where they can oblige the prosecution to exhibit evidence
it has already gathered against them. If it has none the prisoner
goes free. Please ascertain what the equivalent provisions are
in each of the other member states before casting your vote on
the Extradition Bill.
Does Her Majesty's Government in fact know what
provisions apply in all other EU countries? Has HMG collected
any facts and figures as to how the law is actually applied in
other EU countries? Is it aware that in Italy, for example, of
the 56,002 people currently in prison less than half (21,705)
are convicted and serving sentences and that the balance (34,297),
against whom evidence may or may not have been laid, languish
in custody pending trial at some indeterminate date in the future?
Do you know how many prisoners are currently
detained in other EU member states before trial with no right
to an immediate public hearing and with no obligation on the part
of the prosecution to exhibit any evidence against them during
their enforced incarceration? How long, on average, do those apprehended
spend in that situation? What is the maximum duration of pre-trial
detention in those countries? The European Convention on Human
Rights provides for a public hearing in a "reasonable time".
In the UK a "reasonable time" is, by statute, limited
to 24 hours which may, at the discretion of magistrates be extended,
but not, even where murder is suspected, beyond 96 hours without
charges being proffered. In other member states a "reasonable
time" is open to interpretation and, as evidenced by the
so-called "plane spotters" in Greece, can be and often
is, quite arbitrary.
For the people you represent who currently enjoy
absolute freedom against arbitrary arrest and wrongful imprisonment
the European Arrest Warrant will mean deportation to continental
jurisdictions where they can expect a very much longer period
of detention with no right to a public hearing and no obligation
on the part of the prosecution to exhibit any evidence against
them or even a prima facie case.
Other aspects of the European Arrest Warrant,
too numerous to mention in a brief letter, are cause for alarm.
The fact that people can be apprehended upon the assumption that
an arrest warrant will be forthcoming without it actually being
in the hands of the arresting officer at the time of the arrest;
the fact that the person carrying out the arrest can be any person
designated by the Home Secretary as an "appropriate person"
for that purpose and that the arrest warrant itself need not describe
the actual offence that the arrestee is supposed to have committed
are all highly dangerous and sinister developments, not least
when, in the case of Europol, its officers are themselves "immune
Are you sure, beyond all doubt, that it is wise
to vote for a proposition that will expose your constituents to
a system of criminal justice which is so totally alien to our
own system of jurisprudence and of which they are, as yet, so
Only if you are perfectly satisfied that you
could stand up in front of your constituents in a public meeting
and, say that you have honestly and diligently obtained satisfactory
answers to these and other relevant questions should you give
your support to these illiberal and tyrannous measures.
I look forward to your early response.