HC Deb 15 May 1987 vol 116 cc488-99

Motion made, and Question proposed, That this House do now adjourn.—[Mr. Boscawen.]

9.41 am
Mr. John Gorst (Hendon, North)

As these will be among the last words spoken in this Parliament, it is fitting that we should reflect on one of the most fundamental issues which have concerned us in this century and in days gone by and which, one hopes, will continue to concern us for as long as we have Parliaments. Indeed, the points of order that have been raised today illustrate this very point. The issues to which I refer are matters of conscience, liberty and justice. We discuss them as they affect whole populations and at the level of the most insignificant individual. We debate with anger, with passion, with rationality, and with a great concern for truth and decency. That is what this departing Parliament is and has been for, and what the new Parliament will be for when it assembles.

It is appropriate that with its last breath the House should turn its attention to the plight of an individual and that it should mirror a concern for human rights and justice and the maltreatment of one single but perhaps not entirely ordinary human being. Captain Simon Hayward is a man of exceptional integrity and service to his Queen and country. Nothing can be more daunting than the plight of a powerless citizen confronted by the overweening majesty of an all-powerful state. It is thus entirely proper that this House should adjourn after discussing such a fundamental issue which as I have said, lies at the very core of Parliament's existence.

Exactly 63 days ago, Captain Simon Hayward, a 31-year-old captain in the Life Guards, was arrested in Sweden. He was driving a Jaguar car, belonging to his brother Christopher, back to England from Ibiza where he had been on holiday. The considerable extra distance that he was travelling was to enable him to put in a couple of days ski-ing at the invitation of a casual acquaintance known to his brother. That acquaintance, thought by Captain Hayward to be a Swede and using a Swedish-sounding name, was in fact a Scotsman known as Cay Forbes Mitchell who, it seems, had been under observation by the Swedish police for a considerable time, suspected of being involved in drug trafficking.

Following information received, I believe, the Swedish police closed in on Captain Hayward's car shortly after he had kept a pre-arranged rendezvous with Mitchell in a Swedish provincial town. In due course, half a million pounds worth of well-hidden drugs were discovered in the car. I understand that several Swedes have been arrested in connection with the case and that all of them, as well as Mitchell, are alleged to have confessed their complicity. Captain Hayward, however, has protested his innocence throughout and his strong belief that the drugs consignment could have been hidden in the car when it was stolen in Ibiza and recovered by the Spanish police just hours before his departure from the island. I understand that the Swedish police have issued a warrant in absentia for the arrest of Captain Hayward's brother, Christopher, who has since disappeared. It appears, therefore, that the police do not accept that Captain Hayward was the unsuspecting dupe of a highly professional drugs ring.

Whether Christopher Hayward is alive or dead, no one can say for certain. Chief Inspector Bihlar, who is in charge of the investigation, said to me in front of the British consul that if he went to Ibiza to investigate the case himself he feared that he might be murdered. It is thus not entirely fanciful to speculate that such a fate might have befallen Christopher Hayward if he was innocent or that he might be afraid for his life. Before dealing with any of those circumstances and their implications, however, I will explain how I come to be concerned with the case and why I believe that it has more far-reaching significance.

At the outset, two considerations will be universally accepted by my hon. Friend the Minister, by both sides of the House and, above all, by the Swedes. First, everything connected with the supply and sale of narcotics is evil and despicable, its capacity for causing misery and destruction is callous and brutal, and those who engage in this inhuman trade deserve the severest penalties. On that, there can be no disagreement by anyone.

Secondly, the due processes of detection, arrest, trial and punishment are for each sovereign state, whether Swedish or British, to determine according to its own constitutional practices. We should as bitterly resent interference by Sweden in the internal legal procedures of the United Kingdom as the Swedes would rightly resent any such interference by us. On those two matters, I believe that we are all in agreement.

There are, however, aspects of our bilateral relations which impose upon this House a duty to study the legal practices in our respective countries. First, both countries are signatories to the European convention on human rights. Secondly, we have a bilateral treaty or other arrangements for extradition with every signatory to the convention, with the exception of Ireland, Turkey and Liechtenstein. Thirdly, it is unthinkable that we should keep an extradition treaty in existence with a country whose legal procedures we regard as alien to our own notions of natural justice and humanity, especially if those procedures are not in accordance with the European convention.

In the course of this debate, I shall seek to show, by reference to known facts, that Sweden is at best in violation of the spirit of the European convention on human rights, that its pre-trial procedures specifically are contrary to natural justice, that the case of Captain Simon Hayward illustrates that contention and is not an isolated case affecting just one British citizen, and that without interfering or dictating to the Swedes about how they administer justice to their own people or to people visiting their country we should suspend the extradition treaty of 1966 until we are satisfied that the provisions of articles 3, 5, 6 and possibly 17 of the European convention are complied with in both spirit and letter. We should do that until such time as Sweden is prepared to adopt pre-trial procedures that are in accordance with universally accepted standards.

If the Minister thinks that this is a drastic and precipitant step to take, I hope that he will reflect on Sweden's record in this area. It is certainly not an unblemished one. Sweden is not a first-time offender. It has been arraigned before the Court of Human Rights in the case of McGoff versus Sweden and found to have been in violation of article 5.3. The issue involved was not being brought promptly before a judge. It was found to have been in violation of the same article in the case of Skoogstrom versus Sweden. Both cases were within this decade.

I shall now return to the description of the circumstances involved in the case of Captain Simon Hayward and I shall begin with an explanation of how I came to take an interest in the matter. Captain Hayward is not a constituent of mine, but, as a serving officer in the Life Guards who has been on classified duty in Northern Ireland for the past two years, I do not think that he is a constituent of any hon. Member. Before I visited Captain Hayward on the 54th day of his solitary confinement in Uppsala I had never met any of his family or friends

Captain Hayward was brought to see me three or four years ago by a well-known film producer who had been invited to do a documentary film on a proposed Life Guards expedition to Africa. It was running into problems that it was felt I could help to resolve. I met Captain Hayward and two of his fellow officers on about half a dozen occasions. I was struck not only by his exceptional straightforwardness but by his sense of duty towards the men under his command. In every respect he typified the highest traditions of one of the British Army's finest regiments. What I am trying to say to the House is that Captain Hayward struck me then as an individual of transparent integrity. Judge then my surprise when I learnt from the press in late March that he had been arrested in connection with a squalid and disreputable drug peddling activity. I did what I believe any hon. Member would do if he thought intuitively that a ghastly mistake had overtaken an innocent person. I wrote to Captain Hayward through the good offices of the Swedish embassy, to which I explained my interest in the case. I offered Captain Hayward help if there was anything I could do and I promised to visit him in the summer if the Select Committee of which I am a member had business that took me to Sweden.

In due course the helpful Swedish authorities in London confirmed in writing that a visit would be possible, that my letter had been forwarded to Captain Hayward and that the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs would contact our embassy in Stockholm, through which arrangements for my visit should subsequently be made.

I dwell on those details because of the extraordinary allegations from the Uppsala prosecutor and police that have appeared in the press in Sweden since my visit on 5 and 6 May. Perhaps I shall conjecture later about their motives. However, at this stage, suffice it to explain to the House that from my knowledge of what our embassy did and said on my behalf, its actions were scrupulously accurate and entirely correct. Furthermore, I must inform the House that on Tuesday of this week I issued a writ for libel against the Daily Telegraph because of its issue of 8 May in which it said in a headline: MP 'lied to Swedish police' for interview with guards officer. That headline was toned down in subsequent editions to read: Swedes angered by MP's jail visit to guards officer. Since there has been speculation in Sweden about whether I went there in a so-called private or official capacity, let me make the position quite clear. I do riot know what Sweden meant by "official", but everyone in the House will certainly know what is meant when I say that I went there in my capacity as a British Member of Parliament. To our way of thinking, nothing could be more official than that.

In the middle of April I received an acknowledgement from Captain Hayward to the letter I had sent to him. He told me very little except that he protested his innocence while admitting the gravity of the circumstantial evidence against him. He invited me to contact one of his military superiors who had visited him in detention. In two long telephone conversations with that senior officer I established many of the facts and I heard the explanations for all the known supicions held by the police. My intuitive feeling of Captain Hayward's innocence was then translated into a more reasoned one. I shared his senior officer's belief in his innocence and believed that he was being held in solitary confinement in circumstances that gave me reason to suspect that the police hoped not to prove his guilt but to entice another suspect, his brother Chrisopher, to come forward.

It was the intolerable suspicion that an innocent man was being held as bait that prompted me to inform my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, in a brief conversation on 30 April, that I would welcome a further meeting with her if I returned from my visit to Sweden on the following bank holiday Monday as convinced of Captain Hayward's innocence as I was before I left. The Prime Minister indicated her willingness to see me if I chose to seek a meeting with her.

A British citizen who has not yet been charged with any offence has been in solitary confinement for 63 days. Month by month a Swedish court sitting in secret is asked to continue that solitary confinement on the grounds that the police are presumably continuing their investigations. Meanwhile, a man against whom there is nothing more tangible than the fact that he unknowingly drove a car in which drugs were hidden remains in isolation.

Until recently Captain Hayward had been given no privileges. Now, the so-called privileges of correspondence, visits, newspapers, sweets, radio and television are provided or withdrawn in an indiscriminatory and arbitrary fashion. The prosecutor and police issue damning or damaging statements to the press and on television. They denigrate visitors like myself and make such visits a pretext for refusing any other visits to him—friends and family, in particular. We have absolutely no influence or control over this matter. The Swedish authorities have no control or influence over what any Member of Parliament says. Nevertheless, the Swedish authorities refuse access to him even by the family solicitor, Sir David Napley. Why do they behave in that fashion? Why cannot justice not only be done but be seen to be done? Is this a sophisticated, genteel, humanised version of the intolerable technique known as brainwashing?

Captain Hayward is a healthy, resilient, 31-year-old man. There is no doubt about his healthy physical condition. However, the same cannot be said of his psychological state. When I saw him nine days ago in the presence of the police and of the British consul, he had red rings around his eyes, his manner was subdued and apologetic, his speech was hesitant and faltering and at times he gave way silently to totally untypical emotion.

The day I left Captain Hayward he wrote me a letter which the authorities allowed to get through to me. It is only after deep thought that I quote from it. It is a private letter and I have not been able to seek his permission to quote from it. However, if the case that I am making is to contain any form of credibility, I feel obliged to quote certain parts of it. In the letter of 5 May he said: may I apologise for being so wet and for letting my emotions show but as you will realise I am not in the best frame of mind at present. One day I must sit down with you and analyse the effects of all this, but perhaps now is not appropriate. I am afraid though, that the pressures of my situation have slowly built up on me. It is not so much being in solitary confinement but all the other factors accumulating with isolation that seem to make one feel rather miserable. I don't wish to be seen to be stooping to self pity but I hope this explains my behaviour during our discussions. This whole affair is so unreal—I still can't quite believe it is happening … Above all I have a feeling of intense embarrassment … I also hope that my answers to your questions were satisfactory—my mind is not very clear at the moment and I am having difficulty in concentrating, so please forgive me if I was less than verbose. Contradictorily, he ended his letter by saying: despite appearances I am fine. The letter deeply disturbed me after my observations of Captain Hayward. It is absolutely clear—I have now consulted many people who know him intimately—that he is significantly disorientated. I have now pursued a number of other inquiries to establish what may be happening to him. The National Council for the Welfare of Prisoners Abroad approached me the day before yesterday. That organisation was established about eight years ago. The council told me that not only is my hon. Friend the Member for Westminster, North (Mr. Wheeler), who is a former prison governor, associated with it but also the Archbishop of Canterbury and Lords Gifford, Beaumont and Soper. Therefore, I have no doubt about the council's respectability and integrity.

The National Council for the Welfare of Prisoners Abroad, which has expressed deep concern about pre-trial practices is Sweden, put me in touch with a British subject who spent many months in solitary confinement in Sweden. I quote a verbatim record of my conversation with that British subject. He said: I read books. Just to keep my sanity, I read a lot of books. Wrote a lot while I was in isolation. I came out and I couldn't read another book for six months. All I wanted to do was to be with people—whatever I did. It was just like having to learn to be with people again. It is very hard to explain the feeling … It is a very unpleasant and inhuman thing to do to somebody. I've often talked about it with other people and we have discussed which is better: a physical torture or a mental torture. In all honesty, many of us would prefer to be beaten—just pushed around a bit for four or five days—and then to be put with our fellow human beings, than to spend six or seven months in solitary confinement. I haven't suffered the beatings. But other prisoners I have met have been in prison in Spain and France—and not beaten with sticks, but they got pushed around and smacked about the face a little bit … but they say they would honestly take that any day to six or seven months in isolation … Mentally, you are fighting a battle that they are trying to make you say something that maybe you did or maybe you didn't do. But you don't want to say it. When they lock you up, it is like psychological disorientation. They just want to break you.

After helpful professional comments by my hon. Friend the Member for Reading, East (Sir G. Vaughan), who is not only a former Minister for Health but also a qualified psychiatrist, I contacted other eminent psychiatrists suggested by him. Their observations were deeply disturbing. Dr. Anthony Flood, a psychiatrist at St. Luke's hospital, agreed that from Captain Hayward's letter and from my descriptions it was clear that Captain Hayward would be disorientated.

I spoke to a consultant forensic psychiatrist with whom I had been put in touch by the Royal College of Psychiatrists. I had asked the college to refer me to somebody with specialist knowledge of the possible effects of solitary confinement on a normal human being. I described to Dr. Paul Bowden of the Maudsley hospital—he also works for the Home Office entirely in connection with prisoners—what I had observed of Captain Hayward. I also read to him the entire contents of the letter I have just referred to.

Dr. Bowden's comments were as follows. He said, "His response to the conditions of this detention reflect that he has been improperly detained. I don't know the details of the conditions of this detention. All I know is that, however he is being detained, it is having an adverse effect on his mental health." I asked, "What do you mean by improperly?" He replied, "To the extent that he is becoming mentally disordered as a result of the conditions of his detention, his detention is not conducive to good mental health." I asked, "Might his treatment prejudice him at his trial?" He said, "Even if he is innocent, he might come to believe he is in some way guilty and, in that frame of mind, he would be unable to effectively defend himself against the charges." I asked, "What is your opinion of Captain Hayward's present condition judged from my description of his state when I saw him on 5 May"—after he had been in detention for 54 days—"and from the evidence of his letter to me written on that day?" Dr. Bowden replied, "He is undergoing severe emotional reaction. His mental state is precarious. Unless the situation is altered, he will get a good deal worse. This view, incidentally, is irrespective of whether he is innocent or guilty." I asked, "How might his condition deteriorate from now onwards?" He replied, "He would start losing his sense of identity. He could begin to create around himself an artificial world. At the extreme, he could even go mad in trying to make his own illusory world."

It is not for us to conduct a trial of Captain Hayward. He has not yet been charged with any offence. This is a matter for the Swedish authorities. What must concern us is that he has not been accused of a crime. Under a Swedish law—I believe that it is called sanalika skäl—a person arrested for a crime committed beyond reasonable doubt will go to prison for it unless he can prove that he did not do it. He is guilty until he can prove himself to be innocent.

I do not know whether that provision has been invoked in the case of Captain Hayward, but I know that he has been treated and penalised as though he was a criminal. How can a British person held in solitary confinement prove his innocence without benefit of family, friends, or even a British lawyer? He has only the Swedish lawyer appointed by the Swedish court. I have no reason to criticise his defence lawyer, Mr. Tom Placht, whom I have met. I am sure that he is doing his utmost, including visiting London at this very moment, but I wonder whether it is in the interests of total justice that he cannot be joined by a British lawyer who can explain the way in which Britons and Swedes differ in their behaviour and thinking.

Her Majesty's Government should take one step as a matter of urgency. I have drawn attention to the disorientation from which I believe Captain Hayward to be suffering. I have quoted the views of qualified psychiatrists on the possible consequences of solitary confinement. I suggest to my hon. Friend the Minister that the Swedish authorities be asked to allow regular independent checks to be made by professionally qualified experts so that Captain Hayward's condition can be monitored regularly while he is in detention and until he is brought to trial, if that is to be the case.

I cannot accept that such monitoring should be done under the supervision of the Swedish prosecutor or his police colleagues. By their distorted and partial statements to the press, they have forfeited any claim to impartiality, and by their whimsical denial of access to Captain Hayward they have reinforced the impression that they are employing dubious psychological techniques that have been rightly condemned by all civilised Governments. I would not mind an invitation to a suitably qualified Red Cross expert or a specialist such as a Home Office forensic psychiatrist. Both would be well qualified.

I am aware that officials at the British embassy in Stockholm have visited Captain Hayward. Indeed, he was visited only last night. But neither they, I, nor Captain Hayward himself, let alone his family, are experts in psychological manipulation. I believe that Captain Hayward should and will be proved innocent, but what an experience he has suffered. On Wednesday, Amnesty International told me about the case of a British subject just released by the Swedish courts having been found not guilty of a murder charge. He had been held in solitary confinement for 13 months. He has now started proceedings against the Swedish state, but what compensation could eradicate the mental scars that he will have to carry throughout his life?

A legal expert in the Swedish Ministry of Justice told me that there are provisions for appeal after conviction, and that appeals may be made even after a full sentence has been completed. He told me that if the appeal on new evidence is upheld, the victim may sue the state for damages. But how much money could compensate an outstanding British officer such as Simon Hayward for the violation of his dignity as a human being? What value can be placed on the interruption of his brave activities on behalf of this country? Do we not as a nation also have a claim for the loss of his services? What price can be put on the distress caused to his mother, who is denied the opportunity to visit him? How do we assess the lost hours, days, weeks and months for his girlfriend, his family and his other friends? They have suffered great anguish and feel a deep sense of injustice. If he is guilty, he deserves punishment; but to be punished, he must first be tried. That has yet to be done. In the meantime he is receiving a disorientating, dangerous, debilitating punishment that can never be eradicated. It is happening now, and nothing will extinguish its haunting memory.

The heart of my argument against the Swedish pre-trial procedures is that, guilty or innocent, it is no way to treat a suspect. That is why I ask the Minister to re-examine our legal arrangements with Sweden and, if appropriate, to annul them. A fundamental assumption of the European Convention on Human Rights is that preserving the rights of innocent people is more precious to a free society than putting the villains who threaten it behind bars. Justice must be tempered with mercy, but it must be administered with humanity. The system that I am questioning derives from the notion that the end justifies the means: that convicting the guilty justifies crucifying the innocent. It is a repugnant concept.

Sweden is a long-standing friend of Britain. We admire its social enlightenment and respect its ancient cultural traditions and achievements. We have a warm regard for its friendly people. Simon Hayward may have a case to answer before the Swedish courts, but Sweden has a case to answer before world opinion.

10.16 am
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Tim Eggar)

I am extremely grateful to my hon. Friend the Member for Hendon, North (Mr. Gorst) for raising this case. It is especially appropriate that the penultimate debate of this Parliament should be devoted to discussing the circumstances of an individual British citizen. It is in the finest traditions of the way in which this place operates.

As the House would expect, I shall consider carefully all the points made by my hon. Friend. I have especially noted his comments on Captain Hayward's character, his state of mind and the assessment of my hon. Friend and experts of the effects of solitary confinement on Captain Hayward. Of course, I shall ensure that the record of this debate is made available to the Swedish embassy in London as soon as possible.

Mr. Gorst

Will my hon. Friend use his best endeavours to ensure that the Hansard report of this debate is made available to Captain Hayward?

Mr. Eggar

I assure my hon. Friend that, in so far as it is within our power, we shall make sure that such documents are made available to Captain Hayward.

I shall comment now on some of the more detailed points made by my hon. Friend, but I will read carefully the record of his speech and comment further in writing to him. Sweden's record on human rights is well known, and we believe that it takes very seriously its responsibilities under the European Convention on Human Rights. I am sure that it will study my hon. Friend's comments carefully.

As my hon. Friend knows, Captain Hayward has been visited on several occasions by our consular staff and has not made specific complaints about the conditions of his detention. If Swedish legal procedures are not properly applied, that is a matter for Captain Hayward's defence lawyer to raise with the appropriate authorities in Sweden. As my hon. Friend has stressed, we understand that Sir David Napley was not denied access to Captain Hayward but was denied access without the presence of a police officer. In other words, a condition was put on Sir David Napley's access.

Our present understanding of the position on private visits is that further family visits have been temporarily suspended, but, as my hon. Friend recognises, that is a matter for the Swedish authorities.

Mr. Gorst

While I understand what my hon. Friend is saying, does he concede that the giving and withdrawing of privileges is a well-known technique of brainwashing?

Mr. Eggar

I have noted my hon. Friend's comments. However, I am afraid that I must again stress to him that that is a matter for the Swedish authorities. I do not want to pass judgment on the technique to which he has referred.

I understand that a number of visits have been allowed by Captain Hayward's mother, girlfriend and commanding officer. I am told that the first such visit by his mother was allowed in late March, less than two weeks after his arrest. As I have previously told my hon. Friend, Captain Hayward was visited yesterday by our vice consul, who reported that Captain Hayward appeared to be in good spirits and that he had no complaints to make.

My hon. Friend referred also to the position of the English lawyer who was appointed by Captain Hayward's family. I must advise my hon. Friend that in the United Kingdom a foreign lawyer would not be allowed to represent a client in court. I believe that that puts into context Sir David Napley's standing under Swedish law.

My hon. Friend specifically asked whether we could request the Swedes to allow regular independent checks on Captain Hayward's state of mind. We shall certainly make such requests if Captain Hayward specifically requests us to do so. I am sure that Captain Hayward will be enabled to be aware of the arguments, assuming that the Swedish authorities are happy to allow a record of the debate to reach him.

Mr. Gorst

This is perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the case. From my inquiries, I believe that any prisoner would regard himself as being at risk of penalties if he were to make such a request. I do not know whether Captain Hayward would wish to make such requests. When I spoke to him, in an interview that lasted about 90 minutes, he was plainly not making any criticisms. However, when one observes his general demeanour, one wonders whether he is aware of his present conditions.

Mr. Eggar

I accept my hon. Friend's point entirely. However, our consular authority's relationship is in this case directly with the prisoner, Captain Hayward. Therefore, we cannot take official action with the Swedish authorities without his specific say so.

It may assist the House if I set out the series of events as perceived by Her Majesty's Government, following the notification of Captain Hayward's arrest, and comment briefly on the actions taken by the Government.

On the afternoon of 17 March, Captain Hayward telephoned the vice consul of the British embassy in Stockholm to say that he had been arrested on 13 March. He requested a visit. At the same time, we learnt that another British citizen had been arrested. However, we have not been asked to assist that other British citizen in any way. The Swedish police confirmed the arrest the same day to the embassy, adding that Captain Hayward, along with the other British national, had been arrested at Uppsala for possession of a large quantity of cannabis. They were being held at Osteraker. The consular department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office was immediately informed by the vice consul in Stockholm. The Department promptly ascertained from the Ministry of Defence that Captain Hayward's mother had been informed.

On the same day, 17 March, Captain Hayward's mother telephoned Her Majesty's embassy in Stockholm suggesting that she should go to Sweden. After the embassy had discussed the proposal with the Swedish police, Mrs. Hayward was informed that she would not, at that time, be allowed access to her son but that she would be notified as soon as a visit would be permitted.

The vice consul visited Captain Hayward the following day, 18 March, at the police station in Vasteras. Captain Hayward made no complaints about the conditions of detention. The vice consul spoke to the Uppsala police inspector about legal representation, explaining that Her Majesty's embassy maintained a list of local lawyers which may be of help to Captain Hayward. However, Captain Hayward's brother telephoned from London to the embassy to say that the family would be appointing a lawyer. The police inspector informed the embassy the following day, 19 March, that a court hearing was to be held, probably on 23 March, at Uppsala and that a lawyer had been appointed.

On 20 March, Captain Hayward informed the embassy that the hearing had been arranged for 24 March. A closed court hearing was, as planned, held on that day in Uppsala. Captain Hayward was further remanded in custody until 25 May pending further court investigation. We understand that Mrs. Hayward was able to visit her son on 26 March and then again at the end of April, when she was accompanied by Captain Hayward's girlfriend.

In the meantime, on 22 April, the Swedish police had issued an arrest order for Captain Hayward's brother, Christopher, "in absentia", as my hon. Friend has said.

Her Majesty's consul and the military attaché were able to visit Captain Hayward at Uppsala police headquarters on 28 April. As my hon. Friend has said, he visited Captain Hayward on 5 May.

The consular department of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office was informed in a letter from my hon. Friend, dated 30 April. that he proposed to visit Captain Hayward and I discussed the case with him personally for the third time on the same day.

Our embassy in Stockholm was immediately informed and, at my hon. Friend's request, sought to obtain permission for the visit to Captain Hayward and to arrange appointments for my hon. Friend with the Swedish Commissioner of Police, an appropriate official in the Ministry of Justice, Captain Hayward's lawyer, and someone at the embassy who could talk to him about Swedish legal procedures.

As my hon. Friend is aware, the Swedish authorities initially refused permission for a visit on the ground that it was a private visit. Following discussion with my hon. Friend, the embassy informed the Swedish authorities that, in its view, my hon. Friend was there in an official capacity as a Member of Parliament. Thereupon, the Swedish authorities permitted the visit.

On arrival in Sweden on 4 May, my hon. Friend was met by our vice consul and taken to Uppsala to meet the defence lawyer, Mr. Tom Placht, then to Stockholm to meet Ministry of Justice officials. On 5 May, the consul took my hon. Friend to Uppsala to see the head of the local police, and subsequently was permitted to visit Captain Hayward for approximately one hour.

I do not wish to underestimate in any way the circumstances of Captain Hayward's arrest and detention, but I must emphasise that the law in Sweden allows for long periods of custody until the prosecutor is ready either to charge or release the person being investigated. It is the usual practice for people arrested for serious offences—this is regarded as such—to be kept in solitary confinement. I understand that Captain Hayward is now allowed to listen to the BBC world service, watch television and read British newspapers and books. He is permitted one hour's exercise a day. This is in keeping with the Swedish practice for all such detainees of whatever nationality, and such provisions apply equally to Swedish nationals.

It may be helpful to the House in general if I describe the role of our consular officials overseas when dealing with the arrest and detention of British nationals.

Mr. Gorst

I would point out that when Mrs. Hayward applied to be allowed to visit her son after my visit, she was told, "No, you cannot visit him, because of the visit of that MP." In other words, she is apparently being penalised for what I, as an independent Member of Parliament, who had never met her before going to Sweden, had done in what I believe to be the interests of Captain Hayward.

Mr. Eggar

I have taken careful note of what my hon. Friend says. One must bear in mind that there was initial resistance from the Swedish authorities to my hon. Friend's visit. I understand that one of the arguments was that Captain Hayward had received a considerable number of private visits. As my hon. Friend is well aware, visits are under the control of the local authorities in Sweden, and we must simply accept that they have discretion in those matters. I appreciate my hon. Friend's concern that Captain Hayward's mother should appear to have been penalised, if that is the appropriate word, for actions that were said to have been taken by my hon. Friend. I understand his anxiety.

As my hon. Friend made clear, it is internationally accepted practice that officials or representatives of one state cannot intervene in the judicial proceedings of another sovereign state. As he said, we in the United Kingdom would not tolerate attempted foreign intervention in our judicial system. The role of consular officials is limited to visiting the detainee as soon as possible after arrest or detention, unless the offence is a minor one, to ensure that the British citizen's rights under local law are fully explained and that they know how to obtain legal representation, if desired. A consular official will try to ensure that a British national is charged and brought to trial without delay, that the trial is conducted within -.he recognised canons of justice, that their alien status is not detrimental either at a trial or during imprisonment and that they are subject to the same standards as apply to the nationals of the country in which they were arrested.

It is our policy that, after an initial visit, further consular visits will he made in the light of local conditions and the detainee's circumstances. Our consular officials will also ensure that a detainee's next-of-kin is informed of the detention, but only if so requested by the detainee. They will also arrange the transfer of funds from friends or family in the United Kingdom for prison comforts, and raise any complaints with the proper authorities.

The United Nations approved minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners in 1957. While the rules have no binding force, our consular officials as a matter of policy would bring them to the attention of the local authorities, if it was seen that the rules were not being observed in respect of a British detainee.

There are limitations on what consular officials can do. They cannot get a national out of gaol, provide a lawyer at Her Majesty's Government's expense, put up hail or carry out investigations into any alleged crime, nor can they offer legal advice.

A consular convention does in fact exist between the United Kingdom and Sweden. Under that convention, a consular officer is permitted, without delay, to converse privately with, and to arrange legal representation for, any British national who is confined or detained. Any communication to the consular officer must be forwarded without delay by the Swedish authorities.

The consular officer, upon notification to the appropriate authority, has the right to visit; but any visit must be conducted in accordance with the regulations in force in the institution in which the British national is detained. It is, however, understood that such regulations should permit reasonable access and opportunity of conversation. I must emphasise that our consular officers in Sweden must operate within the parameters of the convention and Swedish law.

I shall consider carefully all the points that my hon. Friend has made, particularly those relating to the mental condition of Captain Hayward. I shall, as appropriate, ensure that they are taken up with the relevant Swedish authorities and, in particular, I shall do what I can to make certain that the record of this debate is passed on to Captain Hayward, subject, naturally, to agreement by the Swedish authorities.

While I fully understand my hon. Friend's concern, I am afraid that the Swedish legal process must take its course. Her Majesty's Government have no standing to intervene in that legal process, although, through our consular officials, we shall continue to monitor the case closely and to offer all the assistance to Captain Hayward that we properly can.