Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Phone Call Theresa May Must Make

I haven't had a strong view on the European Arrest Warrant up to now. Until today. I could see its value in bringing trans-border criminals to justice more speedily, even if my gut instinct was to feel that it was yet another chink in the armour of sovereign British justice.

Today's Sunday Telegraph story about an apparently innocent British man being arrested under this warrant and now being held in a Greek jail has changed all that. The story was first covered HERE by Andrew Gilligan in last week's Sunday Telegraph. This week Andrew has been to Greece to visit Andrew Symeou in his Greek jail. Unfortunately the story is not online so I can't link to it, so let me give you an extract from last week's.

Andrew's family say he has never been in trouble before. But now he faces a
trial for murder on grounds which look painfully thin. Campaigners say his is
one of the most worrying examples of how the controversial "no-evidence-needed"
European Arrest Warrant can place British citizens at the mercy of unfair
foreign courts.

It all started on the Greek holiday island of Zakynthos, or Zante, at 1.30 on the morning of 20 July 2007. In a nightclub called Rescue, a young Welsh roller hockey player, Jonathan Hiles, remonstrated with someone for urinating on the floor. That person then punched him and he fell, suffering a fatal brain injury. Five of Jonathan's friends, with him in the club that night, gave initial statements to police saying the assailant was clean-shaven, with a blue shirt.

Andrew's parents say he was not in Rescue when the incident happened, and had no idea it had even taken place. He had a beard at the time, and was wearing a yellow shirt that night.

On July 22 and 23, the victim's five friends, in separate interviews, gave new statements to the police identifying Andrew, from a photo, as the killer. But there was something odd about the statements. Although supposedly taken at different times on different days, they all used precisely the same, rather stilted, words.

Mr Symeou also says that the photo shown to the five witnesses, of a group of people, had Andrew circled with the word "perpetrator" written on it in Greek.

On July 24, armed with the new statements, the police hauled in Charlie Klitou and Chris Kyriacou, two friends Andrew had been with on the night of the killing (Andrew himself had flown home at the end of his holiday by then).

They, too, signed statements implicating Andrew. But as soon as they emerged from police custody, they retracted them, saying the testimony had been dictated to, and beaten out of them.

The two boys told Andrew's British extradition hearing that they had been threatened, punched and slapped. Charlie Klitou said: "I told [the Greek police officer] that I didn't see Andrew Symeou get no one and he was saying 'Really?' three times, and then I said no again. I got hit by the big guy with a fist quite hard. The big guy left the room and came back with a black police bat and was tapping it in his hand. I couldn't think, I was just sitting there waiting to be hit."

Georgina Clay, a Club 18-30 holiday rep on Zante, testified to the same hearing that she had seen the two afterwards. One had a swollen face, she said, and they were
clearly terrified.

In statements to the Welsh inquest into Jonathan's death, the five original witnesses against Andrew also changed their stories. Four of them said they had not seen the punch being thrown at all, only the urination. And the descriptions all gave still did not match Andrew Symeou.

As Andrew's MP, Joan Ryan, put it: "Of the seven witness statements that
allegedly implicate him, two have since been withdrawn, four are contradicted by
statements made in the UK and the only witness statement in which a perpetrator
is actually identified describes an attacker who bears no resemblance to Andrew."

None of this, unfortunately, had any effect whatever on the extradition. The judge said what he had heard might seem "uncomfortable", and the fast-track process "may be a matter for legitimate debate and concern". But he could not intervene: "The abuse jurisdiction of [Britain] does not extend to considering misconduct or bad faith by the police of [Greece]."

The process was predicated on the assumption that the Greek system "must be regarded as capable of providing sufficient minimum safeguards for a fair trial in a
civilised country".

I really would urge you to read the full article HERE. Andrew Gilligan has written more widely about the European Arrest Warrant today HERE.

Theresa May has recently extended the powers of the EAW by signing up to the European Investigation Order. I hope she understood what she was doing.

I kick myself dor not instinctively recognising the dangers of the European Arrest Warrant. Andrew Gilligan has (not for the first time) done us all a public service by highlighting the case of Andrew Symeou.

And if Theresa May is the woman I think she is, she will pick up the phone to her Greek counterpart tomorrow morning and ask him to put right this apparent massive injustice.

Go on Theresa. You know you want to.

UPDATE: As Tim Worstall says in the comments, this case has been taken up by UKIP MEP Gerard Batten, and has also been reported elsewhere. I feel rather guilty that this is the first time it has come across my radar, but I suspect I am not alone.


john in cheshire said...

We should repeal any legislation relating the EAW. Iain, this is what being in the EU is all about. If you have any influence in the current Conservative party, then they need to be made to change their position regarding our membership. I've repeatedly sent such messages to George Osborne, my MP. Ignored, as I expected. Why can't you and the political elite acknowledge that we are historically and culturally different from the rest of Europe (I would say we were more advanced than them, until about 30 or 40 years ago, when our so-called elite embraced socialism and rejected Christianity). Any charge against one of our own (I'm not talking about illegal immigrants, of course) should be subjected to the rigour of our own courts before deciding to extradite someone.

Michael Heaver said...

Iain, UKIP MEPs have been highlighting this case for years now:

I think the likes of Theresa May must be aware of it and are unwilling to do anything about it.

Norton Folgate said...

Bet she doesn't do a damn thing.

Who in there right mind would agree to sign up to extend the "no evidence required" arrest warrant in the first place?

I thought they said they would be repatriating laws, instead they have already signed away more of our rights.

Don't worry though, fatboy Pickles is tackling the nuisance of too many road signs so the coalition is working and all is well.

Old BE said...

It seems obvious to me that we should never extradite any British citizen to a country which does not have the same rigorous regard to human rights that our system does. If Greece does not have a trustworthy criminal justice system it should not be in the EU at all.

Anonymous said...

Another excellent Andrew Gilligan piece in The Telegraph about particularly egregious case.

It's enough to make Dan Hannans out of us all.

Dangerouslysubversivedad said...

Let us not forget that the odious Graham Watson, leader of the Lib Dems (those champions of Civil Liberties, oh my yes) in the EU Parliament has already decided that anyone extradited under these warrants is guilty before they are even charged, and anyone opposing the EAW is "The Criminal's Friend'.

This is what you're allied to, Iain. Straight from the horse's mouth. You are now a friend of crime :)

Anonymous said...

Modern legal process has been divorced from justice. Andrew Symeou is one of many innocent victims alongside all those raped or murdered by thugs let out because evidence was deemed "inadmissable".
It is immoral to say "you can't blame the police because the crooked lawyers mean they often cannot get a valid conviction without breaking the rules" but one can understand why they are tempted to bend the rules if they think rightly or wrongly that they have identified the culprit.
The Extradition Act assumes all police forces resemble Caesar's wife. in which case it would be valuable but until all EU countries have honest judiciaries, lawyers, policemen and governments there will be scope for injustices like this.
However, I still think that it is a more urgent need to change the US-UK extradition treaty

Tim Worstall said...

Yes Iain, I think you're being a little off the ball here in stating that Gilligan's the first to have anything to do with this case.

Gerard Batten (as one of Symeou's MEPs) has been following this case for years. Including turning up at each of the various court hearings about extradition so as to support the family and be there for any press. There are multiple instances of TV and radio reports being done on it, as well as several Press Association pieces.

He was, you might want to note, the only politician who did that, supported the Symeou family, tried to bring attention to this injustice.

I know because I was the UKIP press officer while all this was going on.

We can actually take it further as well. The "rapporteur" for this law in the European Parliament was Watson, the european head of the Lib Dems. That of course means that both Nick Clegg and Chris Huhne voted for it when they were MEPs.

Then, another case, the Toben case (vile man with vile views, but the Germans tried to get him extradited for something that isn't actually a crime in this country) meant that the EAW was going to violate the traditional "double criminality" required for extradition. It must be a crime here as well as a crime there for extradition to be lawful.

The EAW abolishes double criminality. So, Toben is arrested and held, who pops up in the papers? Chris Huhne, telling us all that this wasn't what the EAW was all about. So, fool, why did you vote for it then?

This really is something that UKIP have been banging on about for years. UKIP were the only British political party to vote against it in the European Parliament.

Yes, it's fair enough to think that we might be a little single minded about Europe, those of us in UKIP. But at least could you pay attention when we tell you, for years upon end, that there really is something seriously wrong with a certain proposal? Like this European Arrest Warrant?

Just as one example: if you get extradited under it you'll not be given bail. No chance, no way. So you'll rot in prison until someone deigns to try you.

Why won't you get bail? You're a flight risk as a foreigner. But, of course, the EAW itself, this thing that delivered you up to be held without bail is the very thing that means you're not a flight risk, doesn't it? Because they can come and get you where you live.

Jimmy said...

"The story was first covered HERE by Andrew Gilligan in last week's Sunday Telegraph."

Utter Bilge. The story has been widely covered before and rather more credible reporters than Gilligan who oddly neglected to mention the existence of CCTV footage. I have no more idea than anyone else here whether he's guilty or not but I understand that's what the trial, which most here seem to wish to prevent, is for.

And let's not pretend no-one ever fell down the stairs of a Brisish cop shop.

awkwardgadgee said...

Of course it is a travesty that such arrests are occurring. They are many and all equally scandalous.

But you know Iain, as well as all of us, that nothing will be done about it, no word uttered that is in any way seriously critical of the EU.

Cameron was never the sceptic he allowed himself to be painted. He is perfectly at home with things as they are; on the road to complete subservience to the unelected politburo in Brussels, just as long he is sitting in the ceremonial chair, as that is all that being PM amounts to now.

Unknown said...

This from a government whose leader first broke his "cast iron guarantee" and then said he would not permit any further loss of sovereignty. Hmmm!

Eckersalld said...

Iain, this has been covered for some time by Private Eye.

I highly recommend a subscription to it for some of the investigative work to be found in the In the Back section.

Barking Spider said...

Sorry, Iain, but many of us bloggers saw this coming ages ago. The EU is nothing but a big-state, jobs-for-the-boys,(and girls), control-freak, neo-communist dictatorship for brainless, gravy-train politicians with a lust for power!

When are the MSM going to start investigating our troughing politicians properly instead of faithfully parroting what they are told by those very same powers that be?

Salmondnet said...

The Conservative party has no better record than Labour of placing the interests of individual UK citizens before its foriegn policy objectives. If it asserts them in this case it will be time to beware of low flying pigs.

Robert said...

What comes to mind is stable doors and horses. Because Dave has reneged on the Lisbon Treaty referendum when the country would have rejected Europe and all it's arrest warrants you are now regretting it's implications.

Get real. Our politicians have betrayed this country and sold out on over a thousand years of history. This is the end of our independence, law making, traditions and the British way of life. Lisbon is the final act in the superstate jigsaw. It's self amending legislation from here on.

If you don't know this already you are an idiot. What are you complaining about? When you supported Dave, you supported these warrants and much else besides.

Bill Quango MP said...

Private Eye have been running the story for a long time.

You don't think there's anything wrong with the arrest warrant then Jimmy? The EU has widely differing criminal court procedures.

TTC said...

Welcome late to the wake up call.

Hopefully a few more 'conservatives' and 'Conservatives' will now wake up to what is going on and start listening to the warning that UKIP are giving across the board.

'Cast Iron' Cameron, thus far, is following in the traditions of the original treacherous Tory - Edward Heath.

I want our democracy, sovereignty, and legal system back.

I never gave my permission for it to be given away.

kasou said...

1948Better be careful Iain you may arrested in Greece for sedition.

Anonymous said...

If the judge says he could not intervene then what is the point of the judge?

I am not sure I believe the judge. Does the judge not have the authority to refuse the extradition if the prima face case is as full of doubt as is alleged?

Is there a corresponding EU law permitting suing for wrongful arrest?

'Don't worry though, fatboy Pickles ... ' ha beedin' ha, you certainly are a stylish piece of shite Mr Folgate. If Pickles were slim but blind then pray do inform us of the epithet you would unleash.

And to others --- your prejudice is not helped by selective memory loss. The treaty was signed, despite being voted against by the Conservatives long before Cameron became PM. There was nothing to have a referendum on. He broke no promises. Both Brown and Clegg of course did.

I am anti EU, but I find it difficult to join forces with the crassness and ignorance on display here.

Bob said...

The EU is an Orwellian nightmare

Matt said...

I agree. This has all gone too far.

Roland Deschain said...

If this has opened your eyes to the realities behind the whole EU project and the inevitable results of its continual push for further integration, then I am delighted.

But I suspect you'll harrumph about it for a while before falling behind the party line of shrugging shoulders and saying nothing can be done, before forgetting about it completely. Then nodding through the next piece of "harmonisation".

Please prove me wrong.

Brian said...

Who was it who said he wouldn't keep banging on about the EU? It's a lot worse than any of the nappies he'll be changing for the next few weeks.

Anonymous said...

So we have to rely on the largesse of a Secretary of State in order to get justice? What kind of justice is that?

What of the thousands of other EAW cases of which the public is unaware? How much worse will things become when Romania and (soon) Turkey start exercising EAWs? Turky, being a Muslim country, might wish to extradite gays who have visited it.

In a saner age, breaking the law could not be excused by ignorance of it. Now, our laws are so complex and nonsensical, that it's hard to know whether we are breaking the law. It is harder still to be aware of all the laws in all countries in the EU, as well as the US!

Life is becoming impossible for the ordinary citizen, and easier for the power 'elites' and the wealthy.

Fairly recently, France tried to extradite a Brit for a cannabis infringement more than 20 years ago and held her trial in absentia - without even advising her that she was in trouble with the law!

The Lib Dems are responsible for pushing for the EAW and May should be ashamed of herself.

I've a feeling that if she keeps her illiberal stance up (extending detention without charge, supporting the barring and vetting scheme, etc.), her majority will start to disappear at the next GE.

Unknown said...

Here are another couple of cases
1) British motorist spends weeks in jail before being deported to Poland for a minor infringement offence that was punishable with a fine

2) British man spends year in jail awaiting deportation for an in absentia murder conviction because the Italians couldn't be bothered to check his identity properly


The EAW makes me feel profoundly insecure. We know not day nor the hour when the Spanish, Greek, Italian etc prosecutors may come knocking. And I wouldn’t bank on a fair trial either. The Amanda Knox conviction was an absolute farce.

Jimmy said...


"The EU has widely differing criminal court procedures."

Are you suggesting they be harmonised?

Tony_E said...

Nothing can or will be done about this abuse, because none of our politicians (outside UKIP) have any intention of getting us out of the EU.

There is no other option, not half way house. While we have transparrent justice it is difficult for the EU project to be completed - because people can speak out against it and that will eventually not be tolerated.

Northern Monkey said...

Theresa May has recently extended the powers of the EAW by signing up to the European Investigation Order. I hope she understood what she was doing.

Clearly not. This is a perfect example of why some of us who would be natural Conservative voters won't vote for them them as long as they continue to betray the country. No hyperbole there, what else do you call it when you let your countrymen rot in foreign jails?

Norton Folgate said...

"Don't worry though, fatboy Pickles ... ' ha beedin' ha, you certainly are a stylish piece of shite Mr Folgate. If Pickles were slim but blind then pray do inform us of the epithet you would unleash."

Oh dear Trevorsden, a bit touchy about my Pickles weight comment aren't you, could it be you're a bit of a pork lord yourself?.

If he were blind he would be disabled, but he isn't blind or disabled so the comparison is wank, and his weight and sherical nature are commented on regularly including by himself.

If all you have to offer is to come on someone elses blog to complain about other peoples comments then spare us your self righteous 3rd party victimhood whining and shove it up your supersilious sphincter.

DeeDee99 said...

"Who in there right mind would agree to sign up to extend the "no evidence required" arrest warrant in the first place?"


It was Blunkett. At at the time he wasn't 'in his right mind' which was completely obsessed with the American woman from the Spectator he was sha&&ing and who subsequently gave birth to his child. His duties towards the country were a very low priority at the time.

This is just one more abuse of the British Constitution and British Rights which has been perpetuated by the EU with the connivance of our own Government. Theresa May will do nothing about it.

We should get out of it and save ourselves £48million a day in the process. But the Conservatives under Call Me Dave will never do it. The only way we will ever leave is if true Conservatives vote UKIP - or after an EU-wide Civil War sometime in the future.

Jabba the Cat said...

Welcome to the EUSSR.

Jimmy said...

"It is harder still to be aware of all the laws in all countries in the EU, as well as the US!"

Who would have guessed manslaughter was illegal in Greece?

bryboy said...

Tony Blair hijacked the Labour Party and called it New Labour. David Cameron has hijacked the Conservative Party and called it a 'Coalition'.
Anyone who cannot see that an unaudited collection of political chancers illegally sucking huge funds from member states must be either dishonest or blind.
Until the true Conservatives get rid of Cameron and his Europhiles then the British public will never be represented adequately.
We must have a strong parliamentary group who challenge the EU and not blindly accept their dictat. We should still demand a referendum!

Tapestry said...

Law is a business. Why do people imagine it is all about justice? In most countries it is simply about getting money, fitting someone up with a charge, judges getting backhanders, wheels within wheels.

In Britain we still harbour illusions about justice, but our traditions of liberty, and the need for proof before guilt is assumed are being quietly eroded.

If we want British traditions of liberty and the assumption of innocence to be preserved, we will have to get out of the EU. We are quietly acquiring the European system where the burden of proof is on the accused.

I'm all for cooperating on defensive issues, but when it comes to liberty, we need to run a democratic government of our own, on our own. Get Out Of The EU.

I am a Conservative. UKIP is a waste of a vote, which helps Europhiles to win seats at Westminster.

Penfold said...

It's Tuesday Iain, has the call gone out from May's office? is Symeou released from durance vile in a stinking Greek jail?

The EAW is clearly being abused for petty and trivial cases, not only by the Greeks, the Poles have some history here.
But, in the case of the Greeks this is yet another instance of cooked up evidence which wouldn't, and shouldn't, have stood up to a nano-seconds' interrogation under British legal standards.
It's scandalous that UK nationals can effectively be deported and subject to incarceration without trial. This is almost reminiscent of the rendition that we so heartily lambasted the Yanks for.

It is time for May to rescind cooperation on the EAW and to remove the UK from all cooperation. We should seek to incorporate checks and balances that ensure that its use reflects the level of evidence required in a British court of law.
We might also demand that loans to Greece under the EU inspired bail-out should also be withdrawn, as a mark of our disgust at the "fit-up" and the manner in which the local police and judiciary have abused legal process.