Clause 11 - Bars to extradition

Part of Extradition Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:45 pm on 9 January 2003.

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Photo of Bob Ainsworth Bob Ainsworth The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department 4:45, 9 January 2003

The hon. Gentleman is fortunate to have got his act together in time. He is indebted to the

hon. Member for Surrey Heath for holding up the proceedings to enable him to do so.

The effect of new clause 2 is twofold. It would prevent extradition where any part of the offence occurred in the United Kingdom and in cases where the offence occurred outside the requesting state but for which the UK would not claim extra-territorial jurisdiction. It would be wrong to preclude extradition simply because some part of the offence occurred in the UK. Naturally, where the substantive part of a crime occurs in the UK we would want to prosecute the perpetrator. But it is possible to foresee circumstances in which the minor part of a crime, such as some of the preparation for it, takes place in the UK, and the major criminal activity takes place in the other, part 1 country. Crime is becoming more international. I do not believe that Opposition Members want to rule out extradition, and the other country would have a far stronger case to prosecute than the UK would.

A practical example may help. In a complicated computer fraud, a single e-mail that formed part of it could have been sent from the UK, notwithstanding the fact that every other part of the crime took place in France and the victims were all French. However, the proposed change would oblige us to refuse the extradition request. Surely that cannot be right.

The second leg of the new clause would mean that we did not extradite in cases in which the offence occurred in a third country, but the offence was not one for which the UK would take extraterritorial jurisdiction. That could create problems. Germany, for instance, takes jurisdiction over anything done by its citizens. It would therefore take jurisdiction over a German who beat someone up while on holiday in France and then fled to the UK. Obviously, the French would have an interest in prosecuting the case, but if the victim were also a German, it might make more sense for the Germans to pursue it. All the witnesses would have returned to Germany, and the hearing could be conducted there.

Clause 63(5) would allow the Germans to extradite the German suspect from the UK, but under the Liberal Democrat amendment, because we do not take extraterritorial jurisdiction over the offence of grievous bodily harm, we would be unable to do so. People should not be able to evade justice simply because they cross the border between different jurisdictions.

I hope that the hon. Gentleman accepts that there are good reasons not to accept the new clause. Incidentally, I shall be extra careful in listening to the interpretations that he places on what I have said—I am sure that Hansard will be, too—because he seems to go a bit beyond it on the odd occasion. He seems to infer that I have said things that in fact I have been very careful not to say.