The EAW is unconstitutional. Here is how it can be struck down

© by Torquil Dick-Erikson, 04/04/2018

Not just EAW arrests are unconstitutional, but so are all arrests made on no evidence.

This is the chief difference between an arrest made on a domestic arrest warrant and an arrest made on a European Arrest Warrant.

A domestic arrest warrant must be backed by evidence already collected, under our UK laws on Habeas Corpus, based on Magna Carta sec.38 (see below).

In contrast, under the Napoleonic-inquisitorial systems used in continental Europe, a suspicion based on clues held by the investigator (who usually wears a judge’s robe), is enough to order an arrest and an imprisonment. Then they seek evidence, while the suspect may languish in prison for months, with no right to a public hearing during this time. See details in my speech at the House of Lords, given on 15th March 2017. In this speech I also dealt with the inadequacy of the European Convention on Human Rights in this regard.

The injustice of the EAW when issued against a person in Britain is that the British court is not allowed to ask to see any evidence.  Often there is none, or so flimsy it would not stand up for 5 minutes in a UK court. When our MPs passed the Extradition Act of 2003 they surely assumed that all our EU “partners” must have a requirement for evidence similar to ours. The assumption was unfounded, as various cases since then have demonstrated, e.g. Andrew Symeou, or Colin Dines, a British judge forcibly transported to a prison in Rome.

This is the nub of the case of the Catalan Professor Clara Ponsati, and which, it is to be hoped, will be at the heart of the debate to be held in the Sheriff’s court in Edinburgh on April 12th next, or perhaps subsequently.

Here, in summary, is my suggestion as to how the EAW against her can be dismantled:

  1. She is accused by the Spaniards of “violent rebellion” and “misuse of public funds”. (It is clear that Prof. Ponsati has never used nor advocated violence, the use of the term shows bad faith on the part of Spain’s judiciary, an intention to smear her character before public opinion.)
  2. She should ask the prosecution to produce evidence of this.
  3. The court will respond that under the terms of the Extradition Act 2003 this is not necessary, these are matters that will be dealt with by the Spanish courts, and her request will be refused.
  4. At this point she can quote Habeas Corpus and Magna Carta sec. 38, which stipulate that no legal proceedings can be started against anyone without evidence (see details below).
  5. The court will reply that the Extradition Act 2003 dispenses with the need for the foreign judicial authority to produce evidence to a British court, and its provisions supersede the earlier ones in Habeas Corpus and Magna Carta, by implied repeal.
  6. At that point she can say that Habeas Corpus and Magna Carta are CONSTITUTIONAL LAWS, which are not subject to implied repeal, quoting the precedent of the Metric Martyrs judgement by Lords Laws and Crane (see details below).
  7. It then becomes apparent that the EAW is unconstitutional, repugnant to our Constitution, and invalid in the UK.

I cannot see how the Court can answer this. They might wish to refer it to the European Court of Justice, which of course will have no regard for our Habeas Corpus or Magna Carta safeguards (unknown in continental Europe), but at that point the matter takes on enormous public interest, not just in Scotland and Catalonia, but world-wide.

Two contrasting legal systems will be seen to be in conflict. Our Magna Carta based heritage, versus the Napoleonic-inquisitorial heritage of continental Europe (adopted in toto in the EU’s “Corpus Juris” proposal for a single EU-wide criminal code, which was rejected by the UK in 1999. The EAW is the first step towards Corpus Juris).

Domestic arrests, whether made in England, Scotland or Northern Ireland, have to be supported by evidence of wrong-doing already collected by the investigators beforehand. To make sure that this happens, Habeas Corpus stipulates that an arrested person must appear in open court within hours, or at the most a few days (or in very extreme terrorist cases, 28 days), and there charged formally with a precise accusation. And if so required, the prosecution must be able to produce their evidence of a prima facie case to answer, at that hearing.

This fundamental right, which protects innocent people who are wrongly suspected of crime, descends from Magna Carta, section 38. This (usually unnoticed) section is the basis of Habeas Corpus, which prevents people from being arrested and imprisoned arbitrarily, on no evidence.

In their incredible and foresightful wisdom, 800 years ago, our forefathers laid down, in Latin – and the Latin is important – in just fifteen words, the basis of our freedom from arbitrary arrest and prosecution or persecution and harassment by officers of the State. It says:

“Nullus balivus ponat aliquem ad legem, simplici sua loquela, sine testibus fidelibus ad hoc aductis.”

In English:

“No legal officer (balivus, originally “bailiff”) shall put anyone to the law ie shall start legal proceedings against anyone (NB “anyone” “aliquem” – this is a universal human right, not limited to “free men”), on his own mere say-so, without reliable witnesses who have been brought for the purpose.”

N.B. Note the use of the past participle “aductis”: the witnesses, the evidence, must have already been collected BEFORE any legal proceedings, such as an arrest, are started. In continental jurisdictions they can, and often do, order suspects to be arrested first, and then, AFTERWARDS, they seek evidence. They are allowed to do this under the provisions of their own Napoleonic-inquisitorial systems, which are alien to our own Magna Carta heritage. This procedure, also called “fishing expeditions”, is NOT ALLOWED under Magna Carta and Habeas Corpus laws.

This means that nobody can be subjected to any legal act, like arrest or detention, without previously collected EVIDENCE.

Most people think the EAW is just about catching criminals. It is not. It is potentially a tool for tyranny. It is a threat to the freedom of the innocent. It can be wielded by the British authorities against suspects in Europe, but also by any European judiciary – however reputable or however dodgy – against any of us.

Here are some details of the case judged on Appeal which gives us the useful precedent, whereby Habeas Corpus and Magna Carta can trump the Extradition Act 2003 even though they were passed earlier.

It was a famous case some years ago, when some market traders in Sunderland were convicted and given a criminal record for having sold bananas by the pound weight instead of by the kilogram as had become compulsory under an order complying with an EU directive, issued under the legal force of the European Communities Act 1972 (ECA72). The defendants of this absurdly unfair conviction became known as “The Metric Martyrs”. They appealed against their conviction, but their appeal failed.

We must look at the reasons given, why their appeal was turned down.

When the Appeal Court Lords Laws and Crane confirmed the conviction of the Metric Martyrs, they gave a novel answer to the defence’s arguments: the defence had argued that the 1985 Weights and Measures Act (WMA85), which allowed market produce to be sold in lb and/or kg, was subsequent to the ECA72 (under whose provisions the order criminalising the sale of fruit by the pound weight instead of by the kilogram had been issued). Therefore, argued the defence, the WMA85 over-rode that part or that effect of the ECA72 under the doctrine of implied repeal, whereby if there be a conflict between laws then the subsequent law is deemed to have over-ridden and annulled the provisions of the earlier law.

Not so, said their Lordships. They said that the ECA72 had the status of a “constitutional act”, and so could not be over-ridden by subsequent legislation under implied repeal, but only if the repeal was explicitly spelt out in the text of the subsequent Act.

Since the WMA85 did not explicitly repeal any provisions of the ECA72, which it might have done by including words like “any provisions in or deriving from the ECA72 notwithstanding”, but didn’t, then in this case the earlier ECA72 must be held to prevail over the later WMA85. They even added, as a consolation “sop” to the defence, that Parliament is in any case free to repeal the ECA72 whenever it wishes, as long as it does so explicitly.

The Metric Martyrs now presented an appeal to the House of Lords, but it was thought that their appeal was not worthy of consideration, so the decision of the Appeal Court acquired the status of LEGAL PRECEDENT, which as every law student knows, is now binding on subsequent decisions.

This “innovation” by Laws and Crane can be summarised in general terms as follows:

  1. There are now two levels of law in the United Kingdom: a) Constitutional laws and b) Ordinary laws. There are different rules applicable if Parliament wishes to repeal any of them.
  2. In cases where there is a conflict between two ordinary laws, the later law is deemed to annul those provisions of the previous law in conflict with it, under the well-established doctrine of “implied repeal”, whereby that part of the earlier law, if found to be in conflict with the later, is declared null and void.
  3. In cases where there is a conflict between an ordinary law and a previous constitutional law, then the constitutional law is held to prevail over the ordinary law, UNLESS the subsequent ordinary law EXPLICITLY repeals a provision in the preceding constitutional law. Parliament can repeal any constitutional law by simple majority vote, for one bedrock rule of our constitution is that No Parliament Can Bind Its Successors. This is also the basis for the doctrine of implied repeal.
  4. So, what Laws and Crane established is the principle that Parliament cannot change the constitution by implied repeal.
  5. By the same token, if there is a conflict between two “constitutional laws”, then it must surely follow that UNLESS the subsequent constitutional law EXPLICITLY repeals a provision in the preceding constitutional law, then the preceding constitutional law prevails.

Therefore if the Extradition Act of 2003 had been intended to over-ride Habeas Corpus and Magna Carta sec. 38, it should have said so explicitly. In fact it did not abrogate section 38 of Magna Carta! Indeed section 38 is hardly ever talked about because, in the English-speaking world at least, it is considered too obvious that you need evidence of wrong-doing before starting legal proceedings against anyone.

To get round this, a UK court would have to deny that Magna Carta and Habeas Corpus had constitutional status, or Parliament would have to repeal them. It is highly doubtful that either would have the heart and stomach to do so. The wave of public anger and indignation would be overwhelming.

That the European Arrest Warrant is in fact incompatible with Habeas Corpus is dealt with by Jonathan Fisher QC in his learned Opinion (para. 4 page 2, and para.s 70-85 pages 19-22):

How to rid ourselves of the European Arrest Warrant

THE EUROPEAN ARREST WARRANT (EAW) IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

IT MUST – AND CAN! – BE STRUCK DOWN.

HERE IS HOW.

 

© by Torquil Dick-Erikson, 24/3/2018

Not just EAW arrests, but all arrests made on no evidence, such as those suffered by Lauren Southern, and others.

Most think the EAW is just about catching criminals. It is not. It is a tool for tyranny. It is a threat to the freedom of the innocent. It can be wielded by the British authorities, but also by any judiciary – however dodgy – anywhere in Europe, against any of us.

Theresa May and Amber Rudd want it to continue indefinitely, in a Security Treaty to be signed between the UK and the EU, even after Brexit.

Here is the shocking interview of Lauren Southern by Tommy Robinson,

Ms Southern, a Canadian citizen aged 22, was subjected to a banning order by the British authorities, preventing her from entering the UK, on grounds that she intended to interview Tommy Robinson, who they said was a “right-wing, racist leader”. On a previous visit she had distributed leaflets saying that “Allah was a Gay God” – as an experiment to test the reaction of the public and the authorities, and to verify the extent to which freedom of speech is curtailed now in the UK.

Not only was she banned from entering, she was also detained by Kent police for 3 days. During this time they telephoned her father in Canada to tell him that they were holding her under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, although they had no reason to suspect her of being a terrorist. Her father recorded the conversation.

It is indeed shocking, that people are now being detained, as Ms Southern was, on no evidence of wrong-doing. And as indeed happens regularly with the EAW, although there is in that case the (fake) excuse that the foreign authority issuing an EAW “must” already have evidence, although in fact the foreign authorities don’t have to have any evidence under their own Napoleonic laws as I explained during the CIB conference that Lord Pearson kindly hosted in March last year.

What happened to Ms Southern is a clear breach of Magna Carta, section 38. This (usually unnoticed) section is the basis of Habeas Corpus, which prevents people from being arrested and imprisoned on no evidence.

In their incredible wisdom, 800 years ago, our forefathers laid down, in Latin – and the Latin is important – in just fifteen words, the basis of our freedom from arbitrary arrest and prosecution or persecution and harassment by officers of the State. It says:

Nullus balivus ponat aliquem ad legem, simplici sua loquela, sine testibus fidelibus ad hoc aductis.”

In English:

“No legal officer (balivus, originally “bailiff”) shall put anyone to the law ie shall start legal proceedings against anyone (NB “anyone” “aliquem” – this is a universal human right, not limited to “free men”), on his own mere say-so, without reliable witnesses who have been brought for the purpose.”

N.B. Note the use of the past participle “aductis”: the witnesses, the evidence, must have been already collected BEFORE legal proceedings, such as an arrest, are started. In continental jurisdictions they often order suspects to be arrested first, and then, AFTERWARDS, they seek evidence. They are allowed to do this under the provisions of their own Napoleonic-inquisitorial systems, which are alien to our own Magna Carta heritage. This procedure, also called “fishing expeditions”, is NOT ALLOWED under Magna Carta and Habeas Corpus laws.

This means that nobody can be subjected to any legal act, like arrest or detention, without previously collected EVIDENCE.

Ms Southern and Tommy Robinson talk about legal redress for her dreadful experience at the hands of the British State. Might I suggest that what she suffered was an abuse of due process, indeed a perversion of justice, at the hands of the Kent police officers who detained her thus, on NO EVIDENCE. Her Habeas Corpus rights were VIOLATED.

Now if Ms Southern brings a case against the Kent police for unlawful detention (or some such offence, maybe false imprisonment…?), the Kent police might put forward the counter-argument that the PTA provisions gave them that power, and, since it comes after Magna Carta and indeed after the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679 (and any subsequent modifications), it over-rides those guarantees under the doctrine of implied repeal.

This counter-argument can be invalidated as follows:

There was a famous case some years ago, when some market traders in Sunderland were convicted and given a criminal record for having sold bananas by the pound weight instead of by the kilogram as had become compulsory under an order complying with an EU directive, issued under the legal force of the European Communities Act 1972. The defendants of this absurdly unfair conviction became known as “The Metric Martyrs”. They appealed against their conviction, but their appeal failed.

We must look at the reasons given, why their appeal was turned down.

When the Appeal Court Lords Laws and Crane confirmed the conviction of the Metric Martyrs, they gave a novel answer to their defence’s arguments: their defence had argued that the 1985 Weights and Measures Act, which allowed market produce to be sold in lb and/or kg, was subsequent to the 1972 ECA (under whose provisions the order criminalising the sale of fruit by the pound weight instead of by the kilogram had been issued). Therefore, argued the defence, the WMA1985 over-rode that part or that effect of the ECA1972 under the doctrine of implied repeal, whereby if there be a conflict between laws then the subsequent law is deemed to have over-ridden the provisions of the earlier law.

Not so, said their Lordships. They said that the ECA72 had the status of a “constitutional act”, and so could not be over-ridden by subsequent legislation under implied repeal, but only if the repeal was explicitly spelt out in the text of the subsequent Act.

Since the WMA85 did not explicitly repeal any provisions of the ECA1972, which it might have done by including words like “any provisions in or deriving from the ECA72 notwithstanding”, but didn’t, then in this case the earlier ECA72 must be held to prevail over the later WMA85. They even added, as a consolation “sop” to the defence and to Eurosceptics in general, that Parliament is in any case free to repeal the ECA72 whenever it wishes, as long as it does so explicitly.

The Metric Martyrs now presented an appeal to the House of Lords, but it was thought that their appeal was not worth hearing, so the decision of the Appeal Court acquired the status of LEGAL PRECEDENT, which as every law student knows, is now binding on all subsequent decisions.

This “innovation” by Laws and Crane can be summarised in general terms as follows:

  1. There are now two levels of law in the United Kingdom: a) Constitutional laws and b) Ordinary laws. There are different rules applicable if Parliament wishes to repeal any of them.
  2. In cases where there is a conflict between two ordinary laws, the later law is deemed to annul those provisions of the previous law in conflict with it, under the well-established doctrine of “implied repeal”, whereby that part of the earlier law, if found to be in conflict with the later, is declared null and void.
  3. In cases where there is a conflict between an ordinary law and a previous constitutional law, then the constitutional law is held to prevail over the ordinary law, UNLESS the subsequent ordinary law EXPLICITLY repeals a provision in the preceding constitutional law. Parliament can repeal any constitutional law by simple majority vote, for one bedrock rule of our constitution is that No Parliament Can Bind Its Successors. This is also the basis for the doctrine of implied repeal.
  4. However what Laws and Crane established is the principle that Parliament cannot change the constitution by implied repeal.
  5. So by the same token, if there is a conflict between two “constitutional laws”, then it must surely follow that UNLESS the subsequent constitutional law EXPLICITLY repeals a provision in the preceding constitutional law, then the preceding constitutional law prevails.

So if in a case against the Kent police charging them with unlawful detention or false imprisonment, their defending counsel should argue that the PTA1972 over-rides any provisions of Magna Carta 1215 or indeed Habeas Corpus, under “implied repeal”, the counter-argument could be to say that Magna Carta has CONSTITUTIONAL status, and so has Habeas Corpus. Therefore if the PTA1972 had been intended to over-ride it it should have said so explicitly. In fact it did not abrogate section 38 of Magna Carta! Indeed section 38 is hardly ever talked about because, in the English-speaking world at least, it is considered too obvious that you need evidence of wrong-doing before starting legal proceedings against anyone.

After all the public razzmatazz (on both sides of the North Atlantic) about celebrating our Magna Carta heritage in 2015, I would like to see a judge having the brazen face to deny that Magna Carta has Constitutional Status! And since Ms Southern is a Canadian citizen, and Ms Pettibone (who was also so detained) is a US citizen, and both countries proclaim Magna Carta as a founding document of their – and our – civilization, I think that this argument ought to have the power to crush these miserable bureaucrats who try to steal our liberties.

As indeed was the original intention of those who drafted it, all those centuries ago.

And indeed as commentators from Coke to Churchill have repeated down the ages.

Previous attempts to get us out of the tentacles of the EU through the law courts have failed. Largely owing to the unwillingness of the judges to go against Parliament. And to the general climate of opinion which was held to be in favour of EU membership.

But now that Brexit has won the referendum, and the government is officially in favour, some judges might at least be willing to follow the precedent of the Appeal Court’s Laws and Crane…. who will thereby be hoisted with their own petard!

Torquil has also brought to our attention another appalling example of why we must leave the EAW – the case of a Catalan Professor at St. Andrews University who faces possible extradition to Spain.

The European Arrest Warrant – an expert’s opinion

We have frequently emphasized the importance of ending our participation in the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) if Brexit is truly to mean Brexit.

Jonathan Fisher QC produced this comprehensive summary of  the EAW in 2014, when Parliament was debating whether to opt back in to 35 criminal justice measures contained with in the Lisbon Treaty after obtaining an opt-out four years earlier.

As readers will know, Theresa May, then Home Secretary, led the ultimately successful campaign for us to opt in. However, Brexit provides us with welcome opportunity to reconsider this ill-advised decision.

The issue may be taken out of our hands as the EU has already suggested that we may not be able to be part of Europol on Brexit and our exclusion may stretch to include the EAW  as well.

We cannot, however, take this for granted so it is in our interest to continue to campaign against the EAW and this means informing ourselves as best we can about this iniquitous scheme. Mr Fisher’s document is a very useful resource in this regard. In particular, it has pointed out how it conflicts with our historic liberties under Common Law. For instance, “the EAW does not sit happily with the fundamental principles which underpin Habeas Corpus.

As Archbishop Desmond Tutu pointed out on the BBC “Today” programme” on 16th February 2006, Habeas Corpus is such an incredible part of freedom”  Unshackling ourselves from the EU will therefore be compromised if the freedom-threatening European Arrest Warrant is allowed further to menace UK citizens on independence. 

The proposed alternative to the European Arrest Warrant is not satisfactory

I am afraid that David Davis’s scheme for a new European Arrest Warrant is not at all satisfactory as it stands. Here is the essence of it:

__________

Under the proposal a new “ad hoc” legal commission would replace the European Court of Justice (ECJ) which currently rules on extraditions.

The new panel would have a Supreme Court judge, an ECJ judge and one from a third neutral country to rule on each extradition.

__________

This proposal as it stands is merely cosmetic, and here is why:

Any oversight by a superior body, whether our own Supreme Court or even more so by a new ad hoc mixed legal commission can only see and ensure that the current EAW legislation is applied by the lower courts.

And the main problem is that it is not proposed here to alter the current EAW legislation, which says that prisoners must be surrendered at a bald, unsupported, demand from the requesting State, with no examination by a court of the requested State of evidence of whether there is a serious case to answer or not.

It is – wrongly and wrongfully – ASSUMED by many in Britain that the EU states will all have assembled evidence of guilt and will be “prosecution-ready” before they issue an EAW (as is the normal practice in Britain). Indeed according to the Treaty we are bound to trust them blindly to have done so, under the doctrine of “mutual confidence and recognition”.

Our politicos and legal eagles, not to mention pundits, are still – willfully? – ignoring the fact that the practice in States ruled under the Napoleonic-inquisitorial dispensation is to arrest a suspect FIRST, and only AFTER they have him under lock and key, do they try to build a case and seek evidence against him. This often takes months, while the unfortunate rots in duress vile with no public hearing, as we have seen happen all too often.

This is not – as our own people assume – due to the sloppiness of continentals in applying standards that we in Britain consider to be right and normal; it is the way their system functions normally, and is supposed to function. They do not work to our standards,  but to their own, which are completely different from, indeed alien to, ours.

I have been through the historic reasons, going back 800 years, for this profound difference elsewhere and shall not do so again here.

Whether the grounds for suspecting, and for arresting, a particular person amount to serious evidence of a case to answer, or flimsy evidence that would not stand up to serious scrutiny, or no evidence at all but merely clues, or just a hunch, or even a prejudice, on the part of the investigators, is sorted out in Britain by our Habeas Corpus.

This provides a right for a prisoner to be brought into a public hearing in open court within HOURS or at most a few days after arrest. And there he can demand to be shown the evidence on which he was arrested. He must there be “charged”, and in Britain and other English-speaking nations a charge must be based on hard evidence, already collected, of a case to answer. No right to any such speedy public hearing exists in continental States, where six months, extensible, in prison “pending investigaton” with no public hearing, is considered a normal limit (for many categories of cases, not only extreme terrorism cases), as per the Corpus Juris proposal for a single unified criminal code for all Europe.

Some years ago an attempt by our own government to introduce 42-day detention without charge nor public hearing in terrorist cases was resisted and opposed on principle by none other than David Davis himself, who nobly resigned his seat and stood for re-election on this very point, and was returned again by his electorate who clearly shared his concern to keep our traditional safeguards of the liberty of the subject. Has he forgotten this? How can it have escaped his notice that the EAW as it stands brings in not just six weeks, but six months, in the case of Andrew Symeou eleven months, detention without charge or public hearing?

The European Convention on Human Rights provides no remedy. Its article 6 merely says that a prisoner must have a public hearing within a “reasonable” time after arrest, and the continentals will say that it is “reasonable” for them to take six months to investigate a person and assemble evidence against him of a case to answer.

One solution could be to force the continental States to hold a Habeas Corpus public hearing within hours of receiving a prisoner to show that there is a case to answer, or to release him. We have already seen that this would not be accepted by them for it goes against their whole legal culture. Indeed in 2002 the late Neil McCormick QC MEP presented a motion to the EU Parliament to set up a “Euro-Habeas Corpus” to go with the EAW, but it was overwhelmingly voted down.

So it will have to be our own courts who demand that an EAW, or indeed a warrant received from any foreign State, must be accompanied by evidence of a case to answer which can be examined by a UK court with the power to reject it if considered insufficient. This is what happened before the European Extradition Act of 1989. The delays complained about were largely due to the foreign authorities, who are quite unaccustomed to having to investigate first and arrest after. They prefer to do it the other way round. Under our previous legislation, they had to do it our way. Now we have to do it their way.

At present the UK is forced to conform to the continentals’ yardstick. This flies in the face of Magna Carta (clause 38).  But people on British soil (even if not British citizens) must be entitled to the protection of British laws. This always used to be the case, and it must be restored.

The renewal of border checks will enable the UK to keep out known foreign criminals whose identities have been flagged up to us by foreign authorities. So the garish scare-mongering about “Britain becoming the Costa del crime” and the “honeypot for criminals” argument can be laid to rest.

The practical argument that supporters of the EAW cannot answer is: if no substantial evidence of guilt is collected BEFORE arrest, how can the authorities know that they have got the right person to accuse? Indeed the record of the EAW’s application shows many cases where perfectly innocent people (including even a British judge – Colin Dines!!) were targeted and made to suffer forced transportation and often lengthy imprisonment, thus allowing the truly guilty parties to escape scot-free.

Even if we had our own Supreme Court to oversee the application of the EAW, it can only do so on the basis of the legislation as it stands. However sympathetic it might be towards an obviously innocent victim of a monstrous judicial muddle, or even of persecution on a trumped-up charge, as long as the doctrine of “mutual recognition” remains on our Statute book, the Supreme Court cannot do anything other than apply it. Willy-nilly. Judges in our lower courts have even been embarassed about EAW cases like this, but have been powerless to do anything other than apply the law as it stands. The Supreme Court would be in a like position.

So a reform of the EAW needs to insist that when foreign authorities send us a warrant to arrest someone on British soil, they must also send an indication of the evidence of a prima facie case to answer. Otherwise we cannot prevent them from using the EAW as a tool for fishing expeditions.

Is David Davis going to set us free from the EAW?

It is very good to see that David Davis, by raising the point about the supremacy of the ECJ’s jurisdiction over the EAW, has taken a first step to breaking us free from the shackles of the continental inquisitorial justice system, so alien from ours. I am hoping that he might now take a second step, viz, as follows:

In my speech on Alien Legal Systems, at the CIB event in the House of Lords on March 15th this year, I mentioned David Davis. Here is an extract from that speech, with my personal challenge to him which he might now answer, and indeed perhaps he will answer it:

 “For us in Britain, the preliminary public hearing in open court,  where the prisoner is formally charged, must take place within hours, or at the most a few days, after his arrest and detention.

Some years ago there was an attempt to extend this, in serious terrorist cases, to three months, then reduced to six weeks. An MP called David Davis fought a noble battle of principle against this – he resigned his seat and stood again for Parliament on this very point – Habeas Corpus. He won and was returned to his seat. In the end, Parliament fixed a maximum limit of 28 days of detention without charge, and only in exceptional cases of terrorism. This is what we in Britain consider to be “reasonable”.

But for many EU states, under their Napoleonic-inquisitorial jurisdictions, it is considered “reasonable” to keep a prisoner under lock and key with no public hearing for six months, extensible by three months at a time. These are the terms of the Commission’s Corpus Juris proposal for an embryo single uniform criminal code to cover the whole of Europe, including the British Isles. This is what is may be faced by anyone in Britain who is targeted by a European Arrest Warrant. And on a long list of crimes, not just terrorist cases.

Now is the David Davis who resigned his seat to stop the six weeks’  detention bill on no evidence, the same David Davis now in charge of the government’s Brexit department? If so, does he share Ms Rudd’s wish to keep us subject to, not six weeks, but six months and, in the case of Andrew Symeou, nearly a whole year’s detention with no public hearing? If he opposes it, will he please say so openly?

This is no marginal matter. As I have shown, whoever controls criminal justice, controls the police and prisons, and thus holds the  ace of trumps in the struggle for power over a country. And that is precisely what Brexit is really about – who shall hold power in this land? Shall it be the unelected bureaucrats in Brussels? Or shall it be the people of Britain?

So we see that the European Convention is a very thin blanket,  designed to cover systems with Habeas Corpus as well as those without. It can only work if the woolly ambiguity of its use of words like “reasonable” [in article 6, referring to a prisoner’s right to a public hearing within a “reasonable time”] remains unchallenged.”

[For your ease of reference, the whole speech is here (7 pages)]

Magna Carta and Europe

Although written two years ago to mark the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, this article remains very topical as our Brexit divorce begins. It is imperative for it to include a complete break with the Napoleonic inquisitorial legal system which dominates the EU if Brexit is truly to mean Brexit.

Magna Carta crossed the oceans. In all the lands where English is spoken, its principles are known and recognised.

But it never crossed the Channel.

In 1215, in England the Barons were confronting King John; in Rome Pope Innocent III was setting up the machinery of the Holy Inquisition.

A major purpose of Magna Carta was to limit the powers of the King – the central State authority.

In contrast, the Inquisition expanded and deepened the power of the authorities over the individual. Not only actions, and words, but even thoughts, were scrutinised and, if “culpable”, punished.

In ancient Rome, an accuser faced a defendant, and the case was decided by a judge, independent from both. Under the Empire, the Emperor’s word became law. The dark ages saw more primitive forms of judgement (trial by ordeal, by combat…)

As analysed by the late, great, Italo Mereu, Professor of the History of Law at Ferrara University, in his painstakingly detailed history of the Inquisitorial system from the origins to the 1970s, “Sospettare e Punire” (“To suspect and to punish”), the Inquisition brought together the functions of prosecutor and investigator with that of the judge, in the new figure of the Inquisitor. The Inquisitor’s job was to identify, seize, and interrogate a suspect, in order to arrive at the “truth”. Or, it might be said, at the desired result.

The arbitrary powers of the inquisitor, and of his superiors, were clearly vast. The machinery of the Law became a tool for the ruler to ensure complete command and control over his subjects.

Clearly Magna Carta constituted a potent obstacle to such arbitrary exercise of power. In fact the Pope was furious when informed about what had happened at Runnymede, and wrote to the English bishops and abbots who had helped set it up telling them they had done something “abominable” and “illicit”.

The specific constraints on the power of the State provided by Magna Carta include the famous and much celebrated clauses 39 “No free man shall be…. punished… save by judgement of his peers and by the law of the land”, and 40 “To no-one shall we deny, delay, or sell justice”. Clause 39 in particular removed from rulers a crucial power of government, the power to decide who should be punished and who not. This power was placed in the hands of a jury of the defendant’s peers, thus laying a foundation stone of democracy, and a bulwark against arbitrary punishments.

For eight hundred years since then, the English and the continental criminal procedures have gone off in different directions.

The Inquisition ravaged the nations of continental Europe for centuries, persecuting and prosecuting witches, heretics, and…. scientists. Initially an ecclesiastical institution, its methods were adopted by secular rulers, as a means of suppressing opposition of any kind.

England alone escaped its grip. We fought off the Spanish Armada, which would have brought the Spanish Inquisition to our shores. Elisabeth I rejected the inquisitional method – “I will not make windows into men’s souls”. A sort of papal “fatwa” promised a fast track to heaven for any Catholic who murdered her. Yet she did not outlaw those who followed the old religion, though subjecting them to some constraints.

The power of Parliament grew and in the mid-seventeenth century prevailed over that of the king in the civil war. Parliamentary supremacy – representing ultimately the will of the people – was then firmly consolidated with the glorious – and bloodless – revolution of 1688-89.

Meanwhile across the channel absolutism held sway. The King of France famously proclaimed “I am the State”.

The French Revolution swept away much of the old order. The “rights of man” were proclaimed. Then soon Napoleon took over the helm of France, and his armies set about invading most of Europe to export his notion of the “rights of man”. His codes of law to this day underlie the legal systems used on the continent.

Some of the original thinkers of the enlightenment, like Voltaire, whose ideas helped spark the French revolution, had drawn inspiration from the very different system of government they had seen in England. But Napoleon did not adopt Magna Carta, nor its principles, in criminal procedure. He adopted and adapted the basic elements of the inquisition, redirecting it to serve not the Church, but the State.

In the traditional English system, the powers of jurisdiction governing the different parts of criminal procedure are attributed to different bodies. Essentially, the police, divided into 43 independent local constabularies, investigate a case; the magistrates (mostly non-lawyers, unpaid volunteers working part-time) sign arrest warrants, and then decide bail and committal to trial in public hearings; a barrister is hired to conduct the prosecution in court, where he or she faces another barrister hired by the defence; the judge presides over the proceedings in court deciding procedural disputes between the parties, and handing down the sentence after a guilty verdict. And crucially, the verdict is entirely in the hands of a jury of 12 ordinary citizens, voters selected by lot from the electoral register, peers of the defendant, just as was establsihed by Magna Carta so long ago.

The distribution of these powers into different hands provides essential checks and balances, not just between the legislative, executive and judicial functions, as famously prescribed by Montesquieu, but within the judicial function itself, on whose delicate balance depends the individual freedom of each and every citizen from arbitrary arrest and wrongful imprisonment. The use of legal violence on people’s bodies, by arrest and imprisonment, is an exclusive prerogative of the sovereign State in any society. Its arbitrary use is a prime tool of tyranny. This is why effective legal safeguards against misuse are so necessary. Here lies the genius of Magna Carta, which 800 years ago in England provided the first legal safeguards against such arbitrary misuse.

Compare and contrast with today’s Napoleonic-inquisitorial systems, where a career judiciary, whose members are State employees, comprises prosecutors and judges, but excludes defenders. The prosecutor is nowadays no longer the selfsame person as the judge, but they are both servants of the State (though they may sometimes be institutionally independent from political control), and they are close colleagues, who can work in tandem together on case after case. The judges may have been prosecutors during the course of their careers, but normally they will never have been defenders.

Under the Napoleonic-inquisitorial dispensation used in continental Europe, all these powers are placed in the collective hands of one brotherhood – the career judiciary.

In Italy, for example, criminal investigations, prosecutions, assessments of evidence, decisions on arrest, bail or remand, the direction of courtroom proceedings, judgements of guilt or innocence and sentencing are all under the exclusive control of members of the career judiciary (“magistratura” – not to be confused with the idea of an English “magistrate” for which there is no equivalent).

After a law degree, young law graduates face three career alternatives: attorney, notary, or the judiciary (“magistrato”). To become a judge, they must pass a stiff State exam (set and marked by existing members of the judiciary), and then they are in. After one year’s “apprenticeship”

(“uditorato”), they are assigned to a judicial office as a prosecutor/investigator or a judge, where they sit, pen in hand, empowered to order criminal investigations, arrests, bail, committals, etc. They are not trained in detective techniques, relying on their book knowledge of the law. But they direct the police (who may have such training) in the conduct of criminal investigations. It is said that this separation between competence and responsibility in criminal investigations explains why numbers of cases are not investigated as fruitfully as might be hoped.

Trial by Jury – that great heritage of Magna Carta – has no place in the Napoleonic-inquisitorial dispensation. Most cases are dealt with by professional judges alone. Very serious cases are heard by what might look like a jury of ordinary citizens chosen by lot. Actually, the verdict and the sentence are decided by a mixed panel of six lay “jury-people” and two professional career judges. They all go into the jury-room together, where the “judge’s summing-up” is delivered in secret. Although the six jury-people can outvote the two professionals, the latter obviously take a leading role in guiding the verdict. They also have other means of ensuring that what they consider a “perverse” verdict can be appealed against. There are no safeguards against double jeopardy – the prosecution are perfectly entitled to appeal against an acquittal, even if no fresh evidence has emerged.

Two other direct legacies of Magna Carta are clause 40 – “to no-one shall we delay justice”, and the not-so-often celebrated clause 38. The latter is worth quoting in the original: “Nullus ballivus ponat de cetero aliquem ad legem simplici loquela sua, sine testibus fidelibus ad hoc aductis” – “No judicial officer shall initiate legal proceedings against anyone on his own mere say-so, without reliable witnesses brought for that purpose”.

These provisions are ensured by Habeas Corpus. Under Habeas Corpus, a suspect if arrested must be brought into open court within hours (or at the very most, a few days), and there charged formally. And the charge must be based on enough hard evidence, already collected, to shew that there is a prima facie case to answer.

It is perhaps taken for granted in English-speaking countries that any proceedings must be based on evidence. Not so however on the continent. In Italy, for example, a person may be arrested on the orders of two members of the judiciary (one acts as “prosecutor-cum-investigator” and the other as “judge of the preliminary investigations”), at the outset, on mere suspicion based on clues (“indizi”). Hence the title of Professor Mereu’s book. The prisoner becomes a “person-under-investigation” (“indagato”), and can be kept in prison during the investigation, which can last months, before the authorities are ready to commit him. There is no right to any public hearing during this time. Within hours of arrest, the prisoner is interrogated by the two judges who ordered his arrest, in a secret hearing. He is assisted by his lawyer (or by a lawyer appointed by his interrogators if he cannot afford his own), and he can try to persuade them that they have got the wrong person, but he cannot see any evidence against him until much later.

All this directly violates clauses 38 and 40 of Magna Carta. Yet this is what happens to British subjects and others who are subjected to the European Arrest Warrant. Under the EAW no British court is allowed to ask to see any evidence of a prima facie case. Presumably the Parliamentarians who voted for this measure must have believed that the foreign judicial authority issuing the EAW would already have the necessary evidence, to be exhibited in a public hearing soon after extradition took place. Yet numbers of innocent Britons can testify that this is not the case. Famously, Andrew Symeou spent 11 months in a Greek prison before his first appearance in an open court hearing, where the case was dropped, owing to lack of any serious evidence.

It is thought that the European Convention of Human Rights offers adequate safeguards for the innocent. It does not. The ECHR makes no provision for Habeas Corpus, let alone Trial by Jury. Article 6 vouchsafes an appearance in a public hearing within a “reasonable” time after arrest, but does not specify what is “reasonable”. For us it is a matter of hours or at most days. In Europe it can be months or even longer.

Our forefathers, in their wisdom, laid down these safeguards for our freedom. Their words have rolled down eight centuries, to protect us. Yet today, we are abandoning them, for an illusion, based on wishful thinking.

This 800th year after Magna Carta is also the 200th anniversary of Waterloo. How ironic if Napoleon should have the last laugh after all.

 

For anyone wishing to study this subject in more detail, this submission to the House of Lords Committee on opting out of various criminal measures in the Lisbon Treaty is worth reading.

Photo by bekra