Jonathan Taylor: SBM Offshore

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:41 pm on 9th November 2020.

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Photo of Lisa Nandy Lisa Nandy Shadow Foreign Secretary 3:41 pm, 9th November 2020

I start by extending my best wishes to the Foreign Secretary, who I understand is self-isolating.

I thank Caroline Nokes for securing this urgent question. There is no doubt that the case of Jonathan Taylor, as she said, sends a chilling message to others who find themselves in a similar position. That is why it was so disappointing to hear the Minister’s response today.

Does the Minister agree that the charges of bribery and corruption brought against Mr Taylor bear all the hallmarks of a retaliatory act by the Government of Monaco for the widespread wrongdoing his evidence helped to expose? Mr Taylor’s legal team, whom she referred to, have stated repeatedly that there is no basis in law for the red notice issued by Interpol for his arrest and have challenged its legitimacy as a clear abuse of process.

Mr Taylor has spent 100 days since his arrest in Croatia awaiting the outcome of legal proceedings that will determine whether his extradition to Monaco is granted. Why, during those 100 days, have the UK Government failed to make representations on his behalf to the authorities in Croatia or Monaco? The message this inaction sends to potential whistleblowers is serious: that a British citizen who brings to light bribery and corruption overseas can be pursued by foreign powers without protection or intervention from their own Government.

The Monégasque authorities have failed to instigate a single criminal investigation into the corruption that Mr Taylor’s whistleblowing brought to light. I was pleased to hear that the FCDO has approached the Monégasque authorities, but I remind the Minister that it was only four months ago that the Foreign Secretary stood at the Dispatch Box and praised Sergei Magnitsky for his bravery in highlighting corruption and wrongdoing. Will she tell us what has caused the Government to review their position?

The Minister said that the UK Government are unable to intervene in the legal processes of Croatia and Monaco, but surely she accepts that abdicating their responsibility to a British citizen is a clear contradiction to the interventions the Government have previously made on citizens facing similarly spurious charges elsewhere.

Finally, what message does the Minister think this inaction sends to British citizens who unearth the kind of widescale corruption that Mr Taylor brought to light, who believed that the granting of protected witness and whistleblower status would safeguard them from harassment and persecution? What message does it send to foreign Governments about the willingness of this Administration to stand up for and protect their own citizens abroad? The silence from the Foreign Secretary and his Ministers is deafening, and it will be heard throughout the world unless the Government change course and take the steps necessary to bring Mr Taylor home.