Continued participation in the European Arrest Warrant

Part of Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:15 pm on 11th September 2018.

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Photo of Nick Thomas-Symonds Nick Thomas-Symonds Shadow Solicitor General, Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Security) 6:15 pm, 11th September 2018

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that intervention. He always speaks eloquently when he speaks from the Front Bench on these matters. I do not want to divide the House on this issue. My amendment proposes a robust reporting mechanism. The Minister has stated that there are other ways of doing this, and I am perfectly happy to consider them, but I hope that he will go away and look at this proposal before the Bill appears in the other place, so that we can avoid the kind of suspicion that my hon. Friend Stephen Pound has just described.

Amendment 14 relates to legal professional privilege, and to a person’s ability to consult a lawyer in private. That is an important principle. In recent weeks, following the case in the UK Supreme Court of the Serious Fraud Office v. Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation, it has been stated that

“the rule of law depends on all parties being able to seek confidential legal advice without fear of disclosure”.

I do not believe that we have to balance liberty against security in these circumstances, as we have to do in so many other areas. There is a simple, practical solution to this, and I hope that the Minister will be able to go away and look at it so that I do not need to divide the House on this amendment.

This relates to stops at the border. There is a power in the Bill for an officer not only to watch someone receiving legal advice but to hear that legal advice being given. The power to watch has pertained for some time. Lawyers often give advice with an officer standing behind a glass frontage, for example. That has been a feature of our criminal justice system for many years. The Chair of the Justice Committee is nodding, and he will know that that practice can be used to protect the person being questioned, or indeed to protect the lawyer in certain circumstances. I have no issue with that. The power to overhear the advice gives rise to a major issue, however.

I heard the concerns that the Minister expressed in Committee. His first argument was that, rather than contacting a lawyer, a person might contact someone they wanted to notify of the fact that they had been stopped. He also argued that they might notify a lawyer who would not adhere to the professional standards that we would expect, and who might pass some information on. The third scenario that he mentioned was that of a lawyer inadvertently passing on a piece of information. The solution that I have suggested to the Minister, which I hope would deal with all three points, would be to have a panel of lawyers, properly regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Law Society, just as we currently have a duty solicitor scheme in police stations. In that situation, lawyers would both have the expertise and be properly regulated, meaning that the Minister might not have the same concerns about people’s ability simply to contact who they wished.