HC Deb 18 February 1988 vol 127 cc685-6W
Mr. John Morris

To ask the Attorney-General how many requests for extradition have been made to the Irish Government since December 1987.

The Attorney-General

A total of 20 warrants, issued in respect of six persons, have been submitted to the Irish authorities since the date of entry into force of the Irish Extradition (Amendment) Act 1987.

Seventeen of those 20 warrants, issued in respect of four of those six persons, are not covered by section 44A of the Irish Extradition Act 1965 (added by section 2(1) of the Extradition (Amendment) Act 1987), which relates to directions to be given by the Irish Attorney-General concerning the backing of warrants.

One warrant, covered by section 44A, is to be withdrawn, the person in respect of whom it was issued having returned of his own volition to the United Kingdom.

Mr. John Morris

To ask the Attorney-General what is his policy as regards the requirements for establishing a case for extradition and the conditions he has to comply with and what information he has as to the policy of the Attorney-General of the Republic of Ireland on those matters.

The Attorney-General

The requirements for the backing of warrants in the Republic of Ireland are laid down in part III of the Irish Extradition Act 1965, the Extradition (European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism) Act 1987 and the Extradition (Amendment) Act 1987. Under the last mentioned Act, I understand that the Irish Attorney-General is required to give a direction that certain warrants for the arrest of a fugitive shall not be backed for execution by the Garda Siochana unless he is of the opinion that that there is a clear intention to prosecute or to continue the prosecution of the fugitive and such intention is founded on the existence of sufficient evidence. The Government have been concerned that these new provisions now inserted into the Irish Extradition Act 1965 would present impediments to extradition from the Irish Republic. (That Act before this amendment had effectively reciprocated the provisions of the relevant United Kingdom legislation, contained in the Backing of Warrants (Republic of Ireland) Act 1965.) The Government made those concerns known to the Irish Government when the terms of the amending legislation were first intimated. In particular, the Government were concerned that they might lead to a requirement that the Irish courts be furnished with the actual evidence supporting any warrant submitted for backing in the event of a challenge to the execution of such warrant. The Government considered, and still consider, that seriously damaging consequences for the intended criminal proceedings in the United Kingdom could follow if that were to occur.

I have notified my counterpart in the Irish Republic that I am entirely willing to provide him in each instance with a note from me confirming that the United Kingdom prosecuting authorities had considered the evidence, as they are required to do; that they were satisfied that it was sufficient to found a prosecution; and that there was a settled intention to prosecute accordingly. I have also agreed to his request that I provide him in each instance with a note setting out the relevant law.

I had hoped that these particulars would be sufficient to satisfy the requirements of the new Irish legislation, but the Irish Attorney-General has indicated that this is not the case. In these circumstances, I am considering with the Irish Attorney-General what practicable steps can yet be taken to secure the important mutual objective of enabling extradition between our two countries to proceed effectively.

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