Select Committee on European Union Minutes of Evidence


Examination of Witnesses (Questions 120 - 129)

WEDNESDAY 4 JUNE 2003

BOB AINSWORTH MP, MR CLIVE WELSH, MR RICHARD CLAYTON AND MR PAUL REGAN

  120. Is this an area where we will need legislation of some sort?
  (Mr Ainsworth) There is secondary legislation still pending under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
  (Mr Clayton) It comes under Part II of the Proceeds of Crime Act still to be drafted, but there is a power in section 445 to apply Part 8 for foreign requests.

  121. I see. There are also Articles which deal with Joint Investigation Teams. Who is going to be responsible for keeping the activities of the Joint Investigation Teams under some degree of scrutiny? Who will have that responsibility in the UK? Will it be somebody who will be accountable?
  (Mr Ainsworth) We already run joint investigations with the US. The UK's mutual legal assistance treaty with the US does not include provisions for Joint Investigation Teams, but it does not prevent joint investigations from being established and we have participated in joint investigations with our US counterparts for many years using the treaty as a basis for judicial co-operation. The ability of our police and customs officers to conduct investigations without the type of judicial direction that is common on the Continent means that most investigative measures are available without having to resort to judicial co-operation. Judicial co-operation is a subject matter of the agreement and because the UK can provide non-coercive assistance without a judicial decision our law enforcers can provide a greater degree of co-operation with the US than many other Member States, but this is an area that we will have to give consideration to and it may be, from our discussions with the United States, that there will need to be some legislation in order to allow for the establishment of Joint Investigation Teams in the judicial requirement to do so.
  (Mr Clayton) What is quite likely is perhaps for the Chief Constable of the force here to be legally answerable for torts. There is a provision in the 1996 Police Act as amended by the Police Reform Act providing for that in relation to Joint Investigation Teams.

  122. That is what I was going to ask about. Will there be somebody to whom complaints can be addressed, if they arise, about the activities of Joint Investigation Teams? Will that be somebody who can be reasonably easily identifiable?
  (Mr Clayton) You would be suing the force.

  123. You would have to know who to sue. If it is a domestic police investigation then there is the Chief Constable or the Metropolitan Commissioner.
  (Mr Ainsworth) The Chief Constable would remain responsible in the case of the joint investigation.

  124. Although the complaint might be against the foreign members of the Joint Investigation Team.
  (Mr Ainsworth) Warrants can only be issued by the British part of the Joint Investigation Team.

  125. The Government is satisfied that there is an appropriate level of scrutiny and accountability regarding the activities of these teams, is it not?
  (Mr Clayton) I know there is provision in the Police Act 1996 as amended to deal with such teams in relation to co-operation with EU members and similar arrangements no doubt would be applied.

  126. Finally, what about investigations by non-federal or local administrative authorities which may lead to criminal prosecution, there is provision on a discretionary basis for mutual legal assistance to be supplied to authorities of that character. Does the Government have any particular policy in regard to providing this assistance to these sorts of authorities?
  (Mr Welsh) If the authority requesting assistance does not have proper competence in criminal investigations we will not provide mutual legal assistance.

  127. And tax investigations which may lead to prosecution?
  (Mr Welsh) Taxes crimes, yes. It is where it becomes very much removed from a criminal investigation. Article 8 is designed to deal with people like the IRS who have a choice of which way they go.

  128. And vice versa, our own revenue authorities?
  (Mr Welsh) Yes.

  129. Minister, we have taken a great deal of your time, you have had to go and vote and come back and I am extremely grateful to you for the trouble you have taken and for the breadth of the assistance you have given us on these important agreements.
  (Mr Ainsworth) I hope the team has been able to help. I am sorry for the timetable that has been necessary.

  Chairman: I do not think it was the Government's fault, but there we are. We are very grateful, thank you.





 
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