Clause 203 - Channel Islands and Isle of Man

Part of Extradition Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:30 pm on 21st January 2003.

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Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Conservative, Surrey Heath 3:30 pm, 21st January 2003

The point that I wanted to raise has been expanded by a briefing that I received during our lunch break. The Minister will remember that when we served on the Proceeds of Crime Bill for many months last year, he and the right hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) used to poke fun at the then shadow Minister, my hon. Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Grieve), and me for the number of lunchtime and dinner briefings that we received. Those briefings were helpful and shed light on the debate, and today's briefing was the same.

The Minister knows that I have a particular interest in the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. I have raised that in Committee before, and it is a personal, long-standing interest, which also falls within the Home Office remit. There are shared responsibilities between the Home Office and Foreign and Commonwealth office for our overseas territories. If I recall correctly, I made some brief points in our debate at the beginning of part 5 on British overseas territories, which are also referred to in clause 178. I shall ask specifically about the interlinking between

clauses 203 and 178.

I hope not to go out of order, but I want to mention a case that was drawn to my attention this lunchtime. It is not an extradition case but, like other cases that Members have referred to, it has overtones that could cause concern for the future development of extradition law. We have sensitivities with cases involving international funds—funds that travel across borders—and the Government wanting to extradite large-scale crooks who are involved in money laundering.

My attention was drawn to the huge embarrassment caused to some parts of Her Majesty's Government and the Cayman Islands Government over the recent collapse of the Eurobank case. I shall not take up the Minister's time today, because that would not be in order, but I ask him, when he is considering the Bill's impact on extradition involving overseas territories, to undertake to examine with his officials and those who work with his noble friend Baroness Amos, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister, the implications that the Eurobank case may have for extradition law.

I read one or two brief press reports over the weekend. I gather that the trial was going to cost many millions to prepare, and that it has now collapsed in disarray because it is thought by the Cayman Islands court that one of the witnesses was working for the security services in this country. That could also happen with money laundering to the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man. If I had known about that case before we debated clause 178 I might have raised it then, but the collapse happened since that time and before today, so this is the first time that any member of the Committee could have drawn it to the Minister's attention.

The Minister and I share a desire to stop money laundering. The issues that we debated at such length on the Proceeds of Crime Bill are raised under this Bill, because international criminals who are involved in money laundering are among those who need to be extradited out of this country to face justice elsewhere or extradited back to face justice here. It is a matter of concern whenever a money laundering case collapses after the expenditure of a huge amount of taxpayers' money—whether it is our money or the Cayman Islands' money does not matter; it is the principle. I hope that the Minister will examine the matter and write to me and other members of the Committee, if they are interested. This serious matter has apparently caused a huge rift between the Cayman Islands Government and the UK Government, of which I am scratching the surface. If I went any further, Mr. O'Hara, you would rule me out of order.