The Attorney-General (Mr Dominic Grieve): I have had no recent discussion with the Crown Prosecution Service in relation to that matter.

Caroline Lucas: I should really like to understand what happened to the evidence in the Babar Ahmad case and, specifically, why the CPS apparently gave it directly to the United States without considering it first. Ministers have refused my written question on the matter, saying that it would “prejudice…proceedings”, so will the Attorney-General explain why and tell us what bilateral agreements are in place to allow evidence gathered by UK police about crimes alleged to have been committed in the UK to be provided to the US authorities in cases considered for trial in the US, such as that of Babar Ahmad?

The Attorney-General: As the hon. Lady will appreciate, the case is live, and that is the reason—I have no doubt—why the CPS has been guarded about any response that it can give to her. She has raised a number of very specific questions, however, and I respectfully suggest that the best thing to do is for me to write to her and to try to answer the specific matters that she raised at the end of her question.

Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington) (LD): What role can the Attorney-General and the Government play in ensuring that there are no more Babar Ahmad cases?

The Attorney-General: I have to try to work out where the right hon. Gentleman’s question is coming from, but the main complaint about the Babar Ahmad case is the length of time that it is taking. As he will be aware, proceedings started on 5 August 2004, and in this country proceedings, including the refusal of leave to appeal to the House of Lords, were completed on 6 June 2007. The problems and delays since then are in fact due to the European Court of Human Rights, and that ties in with my answers to earlier questions about the inordinate length of time that it takes to bring such cases to the European Court of Human Rights—with consequences, in the case of Babar Ahmad, that are plainly undesirable.

Emily Thornberry (Islington South and Finsbury) (Lab): The Attorney-General may have read on 11 December in The Sunday Times, as I did with some interest, that the Government will be

“asking British magistrates to examine detailed evidence involved in each case”

and bringing forward plans to allow judges

“to order a trial in Britain if they considered it would serve justice better.”

Given that the House is committed to reforming extradition, are those the sort of changes that we are to expect, and when are we going to hear about them officially?

The Attorney-General: As the hon. Lady appreciates, the Home Office leads on the question of extradition. I indicated when I last took questions that the Government take the view that, first, they need to study the Scott Baker report, which they are doing, and then they will come to the House with proposals. I hope that that will be as soon as possible. In the meantime, I suggest to her that speculation in The Sunday Times is not always the best indication of Government policy.

SOURCE: Hansard.com

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