» Wednesday, July 12, 2006

NatWest Three/Extradition

Asked if the arrangements were nearly identical between the two countries, why was there such pressure for Britain to ratify the treaty if it was roughly the same anyway, the Prime Minister’s Official Spokesman (PMOS) replied that as he had been saying for the last week, we had to separate out two things. One was the equalisation of the position on extradition in the 2003 Act which brought America into the same evidential basis as 48 other countries which did not need to provide prima facie evidence to the UK. Those countries included: Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Georgia, Iceland, Israel, Lichtenstein, Macedonia, Moldova, New Zealand, Norway, and many others. What the 2003 Act did was equalise the position on extradition, and we did not ask for prima facie evidence from those countries, so the question people had to answer was: why should we uniquely ask it of the US when the US did not ask it of us? In terms of the treaty, the PMOS said that it dealt with a different matter, which was updating the range of offences to take account of internet fraud, etc.

The Nat West 3 case was not under those new arrangements. The key point was that of course these people were quite correctly innocent until a verdict was decided, but equally, people should take into account that there was a US court case. As a result of that US case, which had decided that it was right to seek extradition, there were court cases here which said that extradition was right.
Asked why was Britain now putting so much emphasis on ratifying the treaty when it appeared to be inconsistent with the fact that we were broadly in parity anyway, the PMOS said that was a confusion that had been created. We did want to ratify the treaty because it modernised and updated the range of offences. That was completely separate from the issues about evidence and burden of proof. Eight people had been extradited in the last three years from the US to the UK.

Put that the distinction that had been drawn by the lawyers in the case was that whereas if we wanted to extradite from the US, then we had to go through the US courts, but if the US wanted to extradite from the UK, it was different, the PMOS said that this case had gone before a US court which had decided that there was probable cause.

Put that that was the point, i.e. that it had gone before a US court and not a British court, the PMOS said that our arrangements with the US were analogous to the arrangements to the arrangements with 48 other countries. Were we saying that uniquely, we should treat the US differently? And if so, why were we saying that?

Put that if Azerbaijan wanted to extradite three bankers, there might be similar protests, the PMOS asked why we did not see similar protests over other cases of extradition? Why should we treat this case differently?

Put that there was a fundamental point which was that for extradition both ways, we were accepting involvement in the American courts, not the UK courts, which was why people saw it as an imbalance; as well as this, they also saw it as an imbalance because of the treaty, as explicitly, we had given the US a lower burden of proof than the one that applied to the UK, the PMOS replied that the legal view was very firmly that the evidential basis for the US was roughly the same as that for the 48 other countries.

Asked if that meant the practical application of the evidential basis, the PMOS said that the Government’s lawyers had said that the evidential basis was the same as the demands of the other countries. Were we saying that we had to change our extradition procedure uniquely for one country, as opposed to all the others? The PMOS asked: should it be more difficult to extradite to the US than it was to Azerbaijan?

Asked if we expected the Nat West 3 to be on an aeroplane tomorrow to the US, the PMOS said that he was not going to speculate or comment on a process which had been approved by a High Court here, and one which was a process which had happened independently.

Put that surely the point of ratifying was to operate under the 1972 extradition treaty, and that we had organised a level playing field for them, but they had not implemented it, as the latest treaty was not just about modern offences, but rather, it was about the burden of proof, the PMOS said that it was not. In terms of the evidence issue, the 2003 Act modernised extradition law in this country in relation to all the other countries, including the US. It was a feature of modern extradition law that prima facie evidence was not required from each other. That was true of our relationship with these other countries, and it was true of our relationship with the US.

Put that we still had to produce enough evidence to satisfy the 1972 treaty, the PMOS said that was not true, as the level of evidence that we had to produce to extradite from the US was the same now, as the US Ambassador had said today. The US was not different in this regard to other countries; we did not dictate the same language to other countries, as they had their own extradition laws and were sovereign countries. Rather, it was vital to ensure that the language meant the same, roughly.

Put that there was a world of difference between the words "information" and "evidence", the PMOS said that the legal view in Government was unanimous in saying that the legal basis was roughly the same.

Asked further about the legal disputes regarding extradition, the PMOS replied that he was not a barrack room lawyer, or indeed any kind of lawyer. Rather the PMOS took advice of Government lawyers, and their advice was clear.

Asked if the Prime Minister shared a suggestion made by Baroness Scotland that there was a strand of anti-Americanism in the Lords, the PMOS replied that he was not going to get into characterising the critics of this. They appeared to be wrong in fact and wrong in law. There was no discrimination in terms of the level of proof between us and the United States. There had been in the past and we corrected it. The discrimination was against the US and we ended that discrimination.

Asked if the Government’s legal opinion was that there was clearly a case to answer and things should proceed as they were doing, the PMOS said that the High Court had come to its judgement and the Government saw no reason to disagree with that judgement.

Asked if there had been a failure on our part to explain the situation further, the PMOS replied that in terms of lobby, people should look at the lobby notes in the past week where he had tried to explain it. The PMOS said again that he was not a lawyer. In terms of the opposition, it was up to them to explain why the US should be treated differently from the list of countries.

Asked if we were saying that under the previous arrangements before 2003, the Nat West 3 might have been extradited in the same way, the PMOS said that he could not answer the question without getting into the case. Before 2003, the requirement was prima facie evidence, and the PMOS pointed out that we did not require prime facie evidence of any other country.

Put that it was the case that if America wanted to extradite in the UK, the US court decided whether or not the evidence met the probable cause standard, and if the UK wanted to extradite to the US, it was also a US court that decided if the evidence met the probable cause, the PMOS said the journalist should speak to the Home Office about the precise arrangements, as he was not going to speculate. The PMOS said again that our arrangements with the US were the same as our arrangements with 48 other countries.

Briefing took place at 12:00 | Search for related news

1 Comment »

  1. Fraud has always been a problem, but now that the Internet is more popular, fraud seems to have found a new home. People use to have to worry about phone calls from scammers, and perhaps the unethical contractor, but today’s big worries come from the things that can show up online in a person’s email inbox. Those phone scammers are still around, but most of these types have turned to the Internet to find victims. Apparently, there are a lot of people out there that are easily taken by Internet fraud, and you don’t want to be one of them.,*`’


    My personal web blog

    Comment by Pamelia Waits — 20 May 2013 on 5:29 pm | Link

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