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Extradition Bill

8.37 p.m.

Further consideration of amendments on Report resumed on Clause 67.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns moved Amendment No. 184A:

"(7) Where an alleged offence is the subject of an arrest warrant but the offence was committed by a competitor in an international sporting event, that warrant must be referred to the Home Secretary who must make a decision separate to any decision of a United Kingdom court as to whether extradition to the requesting country would be proper in all the circumstances."

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, my noble friend Lord Moynihan has not managed to get back yet. We have progressed so rapidly—cantered is indeed the right word—that we have reached the amendment a little earlier than we thought we would. I make it clear from the beginning that I do not seek to press the amendment. It was tabled to invite the Government to give, in a sense, a progress report on their discussions since Grand Committee with the relevant organisations—those involved in international competitive motor sport, in putting together the Olympics bid for the future, and in preparing our athletes for competing in the Olympics in Greece.

The noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, has already mentioned that sometimes the judicial system in Greece appears to be a little wanting. There are concerns about the safety of our people who compete there and perhaps get into a position where an offence is allegedly committed that leads to a European arrest warrant being issued in their name.

In Grand Committee, I posed a series of questions for the Government and was trying to argue, particularly on behalf of international motor sport, that there ought to be some special procedure to give an extra safety valve if a person were accused of an extraditable offence and an arrest warrant were issued in their name. The safety valve in the amendment is to suggest that the person would not be extradited until and unless the case had been referred specifically to the Home Secretary, who would then consider whether extradition was right. In other words, the amendment introduces the back-stop of the Secretary of State through the back door for Part 1.

I am aware that those in both the Olympic sports and motor sports have particular anxiety about the issues, so I shall pose some questions. What discussions have been held with those representing international motor sport and the Olympics since Grand Committee? What assurances have been given to them about the operation of the European arrest warrant as it may affect competitors? I hope that it will not do so, but there may be circumstances in which it does. What advice in particular has been given to those assisting athletes and competitors to prepare for the next Olympics in Greece? I beg to move.

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My Lords, I do not think that we will make great progress with the amendment

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this evening and I am sorry that the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, is not here to hear me say that. In a sense, I suspect that I owe him half an apology.

The amendment, graciously moved by the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, is not one that we can support; nor, I suspect, does the noble Baroness think that we can support it. I am grateful to her for saying that it is probative of what discussions have taken place since Grand Committee. As I understand it, there have been no further discussions since then. I should be honest in saying that from the Dispatch Box.

The amendment does not take us very far. It is not half as useful as the noble Baroness would perhaps see it or as the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, would see it. I should put on record why that is the case. In doing so, it is tempting simply to read the record and remind your Lordships of what was said by the noble Viscount, Lord Bledisloe. In his normal, forensic way, he destroyed both the drafting and the principle of the amendment.

On the drafting, he made a number of comments, the highlight of which was,

    "it is not limited to offences committed in an international sporting event. If the fight Mr Tyson had in his hotel had been an international sporting event, it would have applied to him in relation to his rape".

That is perceptive stuff. The minor drafting change which has been made to the amendment since then does not overcome that problem.

It was on the principle that the noble Viscount's arguments were particularly devastating. It is worth quoting them:

    "Why on earth should those who consciously go to a foreign country to take part in a sporting event have greater protection than casual visitors to that country? . . . What criteria is it suggested that the Home Secretary apply?"—[Official Report, 8/7/03; col. CWH 69.]

That is a very hard question to answer and it remains unanswered.

The other question which remains unanswered is: what is the mischief that the amendment would cure? In Grand Committee, the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, made a long speech in which he alleged that all kinds of disasters would follow if the Bill went through unamended. All sports, it appeared, would suffer. Formula 1 would move wholesale out of the United Kingdom and the Government would have let down the whole of the sporting world. Those are serious allegations, but the noble Lord did not explain why those consequences would arise. Is it really the case that having an efficient extradition system will lead to the death of sport as we know it?

I should remind your Lordships that we already extradite to all other EU countries and would certainly have no cause to refuse an extradition case where it involved a matter as serious as death or grievous injury. The fact that we will now be able to do so more swiftly is a boon to justice which benefits those involved in sport every bit as much as it does the wider community. It is simply not sustainable to argue that efficient extradition procedures present a threat to sport.

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Leaving all that aside, perhaps I should demonstrate why the amendment is unnecessary. It provides that where death or serious injury has resulted from a sporting event, the case should come to the Secretary of State for him to decide whether extradition would be proper. What does "proper" mean for those purposes? I foresee all kinds of legal challenges turning on that point.

It would not be sensible to single out sport in that way. Tragically, sport can lead to serious injuries and deaths, as we all know, but it is not the only such activity. If we were to accept the amendment, we would presumably face pressure for an equivalent provision from every UK mining company that engages in work overseas or from every construction company that takes on a job abroad. United Kingdom airlines would doubtless be in the queue for special exemption, as would just about any British company that owned or ran a factory outside these shores.

Quite simply, that is not workable. Individuals whose specific actions lead to death or injury will continue to be liable to extradition as they are at present. The Bill provides that if any part of the conduct occurs for which extradition is sought to the United Kingdom, we can extradite only if the conduct would be seen as illegal here. On that basis, I do not believe that those who run the UK-based Formula 1 teams need have any concerns about the introduction of the European arrest warrant.

Those who have not been directly involved but have, perhaps, set the general company policy and direction from the UK will be able to establish that part of their action took place in this country and therefore they will be safe from extradition as long as their conduct was not criminal here. If their conduct would constitute an offence in the United Kingdom, there is no reason why they should be exempt from extradition. However, as long as UK law does not regard their actions as criminal, they are protected from the possibility of extradition.

I do not want to stray into the whole issue of corporate manslaughter, as it goes far beyond the scope of the Bill. I simply say that it is a matter for this Parliament to determine whether the United Kingdom should have such an offence on its statute book. If Parliament decides that we should, we should be prepared to extradite for it.

I repeat that it cannot be right to single out one sphere of human activity from all others. If a motor racing driver kills four spectators, it is just as serious a matter—certainly to the families of the victims—as if a normal motorist kills four pedestrians on a high street. Why should we apply different tests for extradition?

The noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, asked some questions which I shall try to answer. No discussions with the sport have taken place since. No sporting body has come forward to make known to us its concerns about the points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan. No assurances have been given, because we do not recognise the problem. No advice has been given to the Olympic team because, again, we

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do not see a problem. However, we remain more than happy to discuss the matter with any sporting body that wishes to come forward because it believes that there is a problem. As yet, however, no sporting body has identified that problem, and certainly not in the terms outlined by the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan. I repeat that we do not see why introduction of the European arrest warrant will represent a particular problem for sport.

I am sorry that I cannot be more helpful. However, we do not think that there is half the problem that the noble Baroness and the noble Lord have outlined in the amendment. Nevertheless, we stand ready, as ever, to discuss these matters constructively if they are brought forward to us.

8.45 p.m.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, of course, the Minister will be aware that I made it clear in Grand Committee that the Government have been made aware of these problems by the international sporting body, which approached his honourable friend in another place, the then Minister, with its concerns. At that stage the Government held meetings with the international motor sport organisation. It was as a result of the motor sport organisation's dissatisfaction with the assurances that it had been given by the Government that it approached us and we subsequently tabled the amendments for Grand Committee.

As we are on Report, I did not seek to intervene when the Minister responded in detail to the text of the amendment. I stated in moving the amendment that I was not going to press it, that I was not wedded to the text itself, and that it is merely a lever to ask what the Government have done since Grand Committee. The Minister, in his honest way, says, "Well, nothing". I shall talk to my noble friend Lord Moynihan. He will talk further with those who have approached us and ask whether there is anything that we need to do on Third Reading, or whether we can "short circuit" the matter. I am not being flippant.

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