Today Liberty will seek to intervene in the High Court in proceedings against the Government and DPP for not allowing Babar Ahmad (accused of setting up terrorist fundraising websites and detained for eight years without charge) to be prosecuted in the UK. The authorities will currently neither prosecute nor allow the private prosecution attempted by businessman Karl Watkin. Instead they are facilitating extradition to the US.
Liberty has written to the Court and other parties in the case seeking to intervene, having long been concerned with the lack of safeguards in the UK’s arrangements under the Extradition Act 2003. Its position is that if all or a substantial part of the alleged criminal conduct took place in the UK, a person should face trial here where it is in the interests of justice that they should do so.
Liberty’s letter explains:
“The lack of a “forum” provision within the Act fails to recognise the serious impact that extradition has on the person to be extradited and the lives of their family. It fails to recognise the inevitable difficulties involved in prosecuting a crime in a foreign jurisdiction where many of the witnesses and evidence will be in the UK – as is likely to be the case here…
“In this case it appears that it was the Metropolitan Police that uncovered a great deal of the evidence that is likely to be used against Mr Ahmad. Yet this information appears simply to have been passed to the US with no proper consideration of whether the prosecution should be brought here in the UK. Had the evidence been properly considered by the CPS and not simply passed to the US authorities, it appears highly likely that there would have been sufficient evidence to charge Mr Ahmad and place him on trial here. Indeed the judge who considered the original application for extradition Senior District Judge Timothy Workman remarked when making the order: ‘This is a difficult and troubling case. The defendant is a British citizen who is alleged to have committed offences which if the evidence were available, could have been prosecuted in this country.’”
Emma Norton, solicitor for Liberty, said:
“The alleged offences are extremely serious and when people in Britain are accused of having committed crimes in this country, they should be tried here. Outsourcing justice under our lax extradition laws undermines public trust in British law enforcement.”
Contact: Liberty Press Office on 020 7378 3656 or 07973 831128
NOTES TO EDITORS:
1. In 2006 amendments were made to the Extradition Act that would allow a UK court to bar extradition (if appropriate) on the grounds that some or all of the alleged conduct had taken place in the UK. Yet these amendments have never been brought into force. If a “forum bar” had been on the statute book, it would have been possible for a UK judge to halt the extradition of Gary McKinnon, Christopher Tappin and Babar Ahmad. There is nothing to prevent the Government from activating this amendment and changing the law.
2. Liberty’s Extradition Watch campaign demands:
- That a person should not be sent to stand trial in a foreign court without a basic case being presented in a British court;
- If the crime is alleged to have occurred in whole or part in the UK, then extradition should not occur if a British court decides it is not in the interests of justice to extradite;
- A person in the UK should not be extradited for something that is not a crime in the UK;
- For more information on Liberty’s Extradition Watch campaign please visit: www.extraditionwatch.co.uk.
3. For a copy of Liberty’s letter to the High Court, please contact the Liberty Press Office.