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29 Apr 1999 : Column WA55

Written Answers

Thursday, 29th April 1999.

General Pinochet

Lord Lamont of Lerwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their estimate of the known costs hitherto incurred by the Crown in the case for the extradition of General Pinochet.[HL2021]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): During the extradition proceedings against Senator Pinochet there have been court hearings in Bow Street Magistrates' Court, the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court and the House of Lords. These hearings have involved work by lawyers and officials in the Crown Prosecution Service, the Legal Secretariat to the Law Officers, the Home Office and the Treasury Solicitor's Department, as well as counsel instructed for the Spanish authorities, the Home Office and the amicus curiae.

It is not possible at this stage to provide a detailed estimate of all the costs incurred by the Crown in the extradition proceedings.

However, as at 25 March 1999, fees for counsel instructed by the Crown Prosecution Service on behalf of the Kingdom of Spain amount to approximately £300,000. Travel and interpreting costs to the Crown Prosecution Service have yet to be finalised. No figure is available for the cost of Crown Prosecution Service staff time.

The fees of counsel instructed by the Treasury Solicitor's Department on the Home Secretary's behalf are an estimated £100,000 to date, of which £18,000, subject to agreement or taxation, is recoverable under a costs order made against Senator Pinochet by the Divisional Court.

For security reasons, it has been the policy of successive governments not to provide information about police operations relating to protection. The Home Office allocation of £200,000 to the Surrey police force is to assist with the unexpected costs to that force of Senator Pinochet's residence in Wentworth.

Additionally, costs incurred by the Treasury Solicitor's Department in respect of counsel instructed as amicus curiae as at 19 April 1999 total approximately £60,000, plus VAT on part of that sum.

Lord Lamont of Lerwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What has been the cost, on the basis of payments so far made, of the counsel employed by the Crown Prosecution Service in the case about the extradition of General Pinochet.[HL2070]

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The Lord Chancellor: As at 25 March 1999, fees for counsel instructed by the Crown Prosecution Service on behalf of the Kingdom of Spain amounted to approximately £300,000.

Lord Lamont of Lerwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Chancellor on 12 April (WA 97), whether the Crown Prosecution Service lawyers, when they travelled to Madrid before the issue of the second warrant for the arrest of General Pinochet, met Joan Garces, former adviser to President Allende.[HL2020]

The Lord Chancellor: Warrants for the arrest of Senator Pinochet have been issued by the Bow Street Magistrates' Court on 16 October 1998 (the first arrest warrant), on 22 October 1998 (the second arrest warrant) and on 15 April 1999 (the third arrest warrant).

A lawyer from the Crown Prosecution Service, accompanied by counsel instructed by the Crown Prosecution Service on behalf of the Kingdom of Spain, has visited Madrid in connection with the proceedings against Senator Pinochet on three occasions. The first occasion was on 22 and 23 October 1998; the second occasion was on 22 and 23 December 1998; and the third occasion was on 6 and 7 April 1999.

Before, during and after visiting Madrid there has been telephone contact between the Crown Prosecution Service and counsel and Judge Baltasar Garzon Real.

During visits to Madrid, the Crown Prosecution Service lawyer and counsel have attended meetings with Judge Baltasar Garzon Real and also meetings chaired by Judge Baltasar Garzon Real at which representatives of the Spanish interested parties have been present. These have included Dr. Juan Garces, Enrique de Santiago, Carlos Slepoy and Virginia Dias. They were only met after the second warrant had been issued. Additionally, secretaries, assistants and interpreters have been present at meetings.

During the first visit the Crown Prosecution Service lawyer and counsel met the acting British Ambassador prior to meeting the Spanish authorities.

The Crown Prosecution Service lawyer and counsel have attended in Madrid to receive instructions from Judge Baltasar Garzon Real, to inspect documentation and to advise on the extradition proceedings.

Throughout the extradition proceedings the Crown Prosecution Service has been acting as agent for the Kingdom of Spain in its capacity as a private lawyer acting for a foreign client and not that of prosecutor, as has been recognised by the Divisional Court. It would not therefore be appropriate to detail the contents of the meetings held in Madrid. The matters raised touch on legal professional privilege and are for resolution through the judicial process.

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Pro bono Work: Legal Staff in Government Service

Lord Phillips of Sudbury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will give legal staff in government service the opportunity to undertake pro bono work during the course of their employment; and whether they will take into account the pro bono activities of firms of solicitors in the private sector when selecting between them for government work.[HL2026]

The Lord Chancellor: The Government encourage any member of the Government Legal Service who wishes to participate in pro bono work, in their own time, to do so. That support has already been made clear in another place. Government lawyers are public servants who are paid to advise the Government. When participating in pro bono work, they remain bound by the requirements of the Civil Service Code and the Civil Service Management Code.

When selecting a firm of solicitors for government work, government departments follow public purchasing policy and reach a decision based on value for money. They will measure expertise and delivery against cost.

The nature and extent of pro bono activities of firms of solicitors in the private sector may be relevant to the expertise they profess, and, if so, the Government will take that into account when selecting among them for government work.

Falkland Islands: Lan Chile Flights

Lord Graham of Edmonton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What exchanges they have had with the Government of Chile over the cancellation of Lan Chile flights to the Falkland Islands.[HL2263]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): Lan Chile has not flown to the Falklands since 31 March, when its contract with the Falkland Islands Development Corporation expired. As my honourable friend the Minister of State made clear in his answer of 25 February to the honourable Member for Chesham and Amersham (Official Report, cols. 451-53), the continuation of that contract after that date was a commercial matter for discussion between Lan Chile and the Falkland Islands Development Corporation. On 19 April my honourable friend reported that the Government of Chile had issued a decree prohibiting Chilean carriers from flying to the Falklands with effect from 10 April.

I have now spoken to the Chilean Foreign Minister.

I told him that we strongly disagree with his Government's decree. I underlined that there was no justification for the Chilean Government taking such a measure and have urged Senor Insulza to reconsider it. I reminded him of the commercial and social benefits for remote communities, both in the Falklands and in

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southern Chile, of Lan Chile being allowed to continue flights to the Falklands.

We are in close touch with the Falkland Islands Government on alternative air links.

Council of Europe: 50th Anniversary

Baroness Gould of Potternewton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What arrangements are being made to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Council of Europe in London on 5 May 1999.[HL2230]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Ministers of Council of Europe Member States and guests from Strasbourg have been invited to a ceremony in the Palace of Westminster on 5 May at which my noble friend the Lord Chancellor will make a keynote address on the importance of the Council of Europe. Her Majesty The Queen will grace a reception at St. James's Palace, where the Council of Europe's Statute was signed 50 years ago on 5 May 1949. The Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra will give a concert in the Barbican Centre on 4 May in the presence of HRH Princess Alexandra.

The United Kingdom is an active member of the Council of Europe which plays a valuable role in promoting human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe. The Council of Europe has helped to set the standards which must form the basis of a stable modern Europe. In recent years, it has played a vital part in fostering these values in the newly democratised States of Central and Eastern Europe and in providing practical assistance to help them achieve the standards to which all Council of Europe members are committed. The Council of Europe is also contributing its expertise to the efforts of the international community to restore peace and stability in the Balkans.

The Council of Europe, through the legally binding mechanisms of the European Convention on Human Rights and the newly created Single Court, has set the pattern and standard for the protection and promotion of human rights in Europe. The work of the Council in promoting the protection of the rights of members of national minorities is particularly vital to the development of the region and the well-being of its citizens.

The United Kingdom has been active in the work being done to follow up the report of the Committee of Wise Persons, set up after the Council's second Summit in 1997, to enhance the Council of Europe's ability to address the key threats to democracy and fundamental freedoms in Europe today.

As a signal of the importance that the United Kingdom attaches to this, Her Majesty's Government has put forward a candidate (Mr. Terry Davis MP) for election to the post of Secretary General of the Council of Europe, which falls vacant at the end of August.

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