Examination of Witnesses (Questions 240-245)|
23 JANUARY 2007
Q240 David Winnick: Mr Kennedy, Eurojust,
as we know, is the European body which deals with investigation
and prosecution of serious organised crime and no crime is more
serious than murder. In the last two days there have been the
most serious allegations that the Northern Ireland police force
at the time was in collusion with loyalist murder gangs and some
16 murdersobviously part of the United Kingdom and part
of the European Union. Would your organisation have any role to
play, any competence in looking into these allegations?
Mr Kennedy: Eurojust is not an
organisation that has any operational capacity to investigate
or prosecute. We are in existence to support and help the national
investigating and prosecuting authorities to be more effective
when they are dealing with cross-border cases. I do not know if
there is an investigation going on. If there is an investigation
going on in Northern Ireland that needs to have some assistance
from another European Union country, then we would be available
to facilitate that. We do not have an investigative or prosecution
Q241 David Winnick: The Northern
Ireland Police Ombudsman has published her report and very serious
allegations are contained in that report. It is obviously up to
the British Government to decide now what to do. My question was
whether your organisation would have any role to play. Presumably,
if the British Government, unlikely as it may be, were to ask
Eurojust to play a role, you would do so.
Mr Kennedy: If there is a role
for us to play, certainly, yes, and we would not be approached
by the British Government but rather by the police or the prosecuting
Q242 David Winnick: For you to become
involved, you would need the invitation of the British Government.
Mr Kennedy: No, the investigating
or prosecuting authorities.
Q243 Mrs Dean: Mr Kennedy, Eurojust
seem to support the harmonisation of criminal law across the EU.
Could you give a specific example of why you think harmonisation
is vital and what are the constitutional implications for the
UK of criminal law making at EU not national level?
Mr Kennedy: If the laws were harmonised
in all the Member States of the European Union it would make it
much easier for the European Union investigators and prosecutors
to cooperate with one another.
Q244 Mr Benyon: Do not hold your
Mr Kennedy: No, but it would make
it easier than it is now. That is the point I would like to make.
The point is that in an investigation there is usually a number
of witnesses to be seen, statements to be taken, and taken in
a particular format. If you take that as an example, that is not
done in other non common law systems in the same way; that is,
a police officer visiting a witness, taking a statement as to
what he or she saw at the scene of a crime or what he or she did
linked into the crime. In other countries, a statement perhaps
would be taken by a police officer or investigating judge, which
would be simply the details of what this person said. There would
not be a declaration. If everybody across the European Union had
to make what we call section 9 statements, it would make life
a lot easier for all the prosecutors in the common law countries.
It is not like that and it will not be like that for some time,
so I shall not hold my breath, but, if you ask what could be done
where there are problems, this is one area, but there are many
other areas that could be expanded on. The more we can bring our
system and their systems in line and make changes in both to bring
them closer to one another, that is inevitably going to help.
But, even if they do not become harmonised, it is possible to
cooperate. It is possible in all the systems to develop and to
work together and to deal with the particular vagaries that one
might find within any of the systems that are working together.
Q245 Mrs Dean: Following on from
improving systems, I wonder, Mr Kennedy, whether you have any
comments on the Home Secretary's suggestion of splitting the Home
Mr Kennedy: I heard about it in
general terms but I think it is perhaps something that needs to
be considered at some length and in detail. I do not know what
the proposal is, as to what would be put where, so it is very
difficult and perhaps inappropriate for me to comment.
Mrs Dean: Could I thank you both very
much for coming along this morning. Your evidence has been very
useful to the Committee. Thank you.