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The unknown war Britain must win
Date 07/05/2012 15:46  Author webmaster  Hits 2288  Language Global

William Dartmouth MEP

Britain is now engaged in two wars, the War on Terror and the War on Crime. Opinion is divided as to whether we are winning these wars or not.

But Britain is fighting another war and this is one we are losing.

In this war we are failing in the fight against the wiping-out of hard won tradition and fair play established over centuries. This war is the War to protect our Liberties.

Britain faces a twin attack on our Liberties, on the one hand via the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), on the other from the European Arrest Warrant (EAW).

Between the two, they are crushing the rights and liberties of British citizens and residents. The EAW removes Britain's ability to protect its own citizens from being deported.

Meanwhile the ECHR has taken away Britain’s right to remove from our country those who plan to harm us or have committed crimes against us.

The Liberties of 60 million British citizens are trapped in a pincer movement between the EAW and the ECHR. To put it another way, we cannot deport convicted foreign criminals: At the same time we cannot protect our own people from being deported.

There is no half-way house of simply withdrawing our signature from the ECHR. Our membership of the European Union makes the UK's signature obligatory. So there it is, in a nutshell, until and unless the UK leaves the EU, we cannot withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights and must live with consequences.

Yet though Britain cannot deport foreign criminals, it seems to be the easiest thing in the world for our own citizens and residents to be whisked out of the UK by means of the EAW.

In Britain we have all been shocked by the extradition to the USA of 65 year old Kent businessman Christopher Tappin. The Americans claim he sold batteries to Iran as part of a missile components project. Apparently, the Americans' allegations are based on an FBI "sting operation".

Mr Tappin has been unable to give evidence in his defence to any British Court. As a result he appeared in chains at a court in El Paso, Texas and is being held in solitary confinement 23 hours a day. The US-UK Extradition Treaty is one-sided and there are now strong calls that the Treaty be changed.

In my own South West constituency I have been involved with two young men, Michael Turner and Jason McGoldrick, who were held in appalling conditions in a Budapest prison for 114 days. Without the campaign on their behalf they, under Hungarian Law could have languished there without coming to trial for three years - extendable to four years.

They were victims of the EAW that led to them being taken from their homes in handcuffs and handed over on British soil to the Hungarian special police. On arrival in Hungary, Michael and Jason were led through Budapest airport by a chain around their necks, as if on a dog lead.

Their alleged crime, involving a failed business with debts of the equivalent of £18,000 spread over 120 people, would, in my opinion, in Britain, have been heard by a Civil Court. And probably a Small Claims Court at that.

Michael and Jason will not know their fate until June this year (2012). The alleged offences took place 2003-2005. At no time has a British Court been able to hear the evidence.

Since the EAW was established in 2004 it has effectively thrown out the long-established protection of British law, specifically Habeas Corpus - no imprisonment without trial.

Under British law, a Court must justify the detention of any person. There is always the Presumption of Innocence.

The EAW recognises none of this. Under the EAW extradition has been reduced to a box-ticking exercise. When the boxes have been ticked, deportation takes place. British judges no longer have the right to consider primary evidence and deny extradition.

So now British citizens can be carted off to some former Eastern Bloc country and be subjected to a legal system where people can be locked up without trial literally for years.

The EAW was portrayed as an answer to terrorism. It was pushed through in the wake of 9/11. But it has been transformed and mutated in a process which shames those who proposed it and still support it. All in the name of European integration. The EAW was spearheaded by the Liberal Democrats.

The concept that criminals and terrorists should not be able to flee and hide behind a technicality is a good one.

However, we do not have to trash the hard won liberties of the British and the integrity of British laws for Governments and police forces to co-operate throughout the world.

For example, Britain has been a member of Interpol since 1923 and has extradition arrangements with numerous other sovereign nations - including for example a fast-track extradition Treaty with Spain.

It is a fact that Governments and police forces could, did and do cooperate to fight terror and organised crime. Indeed that is what happens now with non-EU governments.

We can fully cooperate with countries on the European continent without ourselves being signed up to the EAW.

Most of us have despaired at the way the European Court of Human Rights has interpreted the European Convention on Human Rights as a "scoundrels' charter". People convicted of serious crimes and known terror suspects walk freely in Britain by their cynical use of these "rights".

How many times have we heard of their "human right" to have a family life or even a family pet or that they face serious punishment in their own countries if they are returned. In consequence, we cannot deport Abu Qatada and his kind, at the same time we cannot deport our own.

Yet when UK citizens have tried to appeal against a European Arrest warrant on the grounds that THEIR Human Rights were being breached none have so far been allowed.

To protect the basic Liberties of all of us in Britain the Coalition Government must, at the very least, suspend the EAW forthwith.

The obsessive supporters of a common European Justice System and the European Court of Human Rights are placing at risk our basic Liberties. We are no longer protected against random arrest and violent foreign criminals.

This is the war, the war to protect our hard-won Liberties, established since Magna Carta, that the Establishment politicians are losing, but we must not lose.