Liberty and Conservatives warn Downing Street on EU arrest warrant dangers

06 December 2002

On Monday afternoon, Parliament opens the debate on the Government's Extradition Bill, which will include the incorporation into UK law of the EU Arrest Warrant.

On Monday morning (shortly after 10am), liver Letwin (Conservative shadow home secretary) and John Wadham (Director, Liberty) will deliver a letter to Downing Street highlighting the serious concerns that they and others have about the Extradition Bill.

From 10.30am-12 noon, there will be a rally at Parliament to oppose the Bill - with speakers including Oliver Letwin, John Wadham, Russell Walters (Director, Democracy Movement). John Burnett MP - the Liberal Democrat spokesman on the issue will also raise his party's concerns about the Bill.

The lobby will be in the MacMillan Room, Portcullis House, SW1. Press welcome.

Last Thursday, a Home Affairs Select Committee report highlighted serious concerns with the Bill and the arrest warrant. An Early Day Motion on the subject has been tabled by the Conservative home affairs team. The letter to the Prime Minister has been jointly signed by Mr Letwin and his frontbench team,Mr Wadham, Mr Walters and the eminent extraditon barrister Clive Nicholls QC

John Wadham, director of Liberty said of the Bill: "Speeding up the bureaucracy of the extradition process needn't be a problem - but we need safeguards to ensure you aren't sent to a foreign prison, under foreign
laws, without good reason.

"This Bill, and the EU arrest warrant, seek to cut away those basic protections. Foreign authorities should need to show they have a
substantive case against the person to be extradited. We must have adequate protections against improper extradition".

Oliver Letwin said "The European Arrest Warrant will allow British citizens to
be extradited for crimes - some of them vague and undefined - that are not crimes in the UK.

"This is a gross infringement of our civil liberties and would lead to our citizens facing trial in other countries, some of whose legal systems operate on the presumption of guilt."