Thursday, 17 January 2008

EU threat to Britons right to trial

I had always been under the impression that, in Britain, an accused person should have their day in court to defend themselves - That we don’t hold trials and convict people in their absence.

I know it is inconvenient and spoils government figures - rather like that old fashioned, un-dynamic, not new or forward looking, idea of ‘innocent until proven guilty’. Rather than the reverse, so beloved of many other (no doubt dynamic and forward thinking) European nations, or the right to remain silent.

So it is a little disturbing to find that there is a meeting of EU Justice ministers planned for next week, where the Attorney General is apparently planning to do a ‘Gordon Brown’ and rubber stamp measures that could change all that boring old fashioned stuff about having your day in court.

Patricia Scotland QC (Baroness Scotland of Asthal, Attorney General) is planning to rubber stamp the extradition of British nationals, who have been convicted in absentia, for imprisonment in European jails.

Also included is a planned hand-over of "a wide range of personal data". Won’t that be so much more effective once the government imposes it’s ID card system on us and they have even more personal data to give away?

So imagine for a moment you have had a fortnights holiday in Spain. Unbeknown to you, you are somehow implicated in an offence. They can’t find you when they get round to wanting to speak to you and you are back in the UK. They can’t immediately trace you. You get convicted in your absence…

The first thing you know is when you are arrested for extradition to start your sentence in a Spanish jail.

Any sane citizen should be concerned that Government ministers are continuing with their bad habit of blithely signing away yet more British rights.

Shadow Home Secretary, David Davis said: "Now there is a real risk that British citizens will be abandoned to face European punishments without trial,"


James Higham said...

Patricia Scotland QC

Great name - better than Lynndie England.

CFD Ed said...

From Dominica via Walthamstow (Asthal is in Oxfordshire).

Walthamstow High School for Girls, University of London, Middle Temple, Called to the bar in 1977, Queen's Counsel, Bencher of the Middle Temple, Millennium Commissioner, Commission for Racial Equality, life peerage as Baroness Scotland of Asthal, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department, made a member of the Privy Council, Home Office - Minister of State for the Criminal Justice system and Law Reform, Attorney General…

Mrs Smallprint said...

Our government seems pretty keen on exporting its own citizens to face trial in America and Europe but when it comes to exporting foreigners who commit crimes here they are strangly reticent.

Odd eh.

Mrs S.

CFD Ed said...

Spot on Mrs S. A telling point.