HL Deb 11 February 1999 vol 597 cc49-51WA
Lord Lamont of Lerwick

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answers by the Lord Chancellor on 26 January (WA 138–139), why the Crown Prosecution Service was not involved in the preparation of the first warrant for the extradition of General Pinochet; and what criteria determine whether the CPS will act as the agent of a foreign bid for extradition. [HL.821]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg)

Extradition arrangements between the United Kingdom and the Kingdom of Spain are governed by the European Convention on Extradition 1957 ("the Convention"), which was given force in our domestic law by the European Convention on Extradition Order 1990. The position in English law is also regulated by the provisions of the Extradition Act 1989. Article 1 of the convention imposes an obligation on the contracting parties to surrender fugitives whose extradition is sought by another party to the convention in respect of proceedings for a criminal accusation or the carrying out of a sentence of imprisonment, provided the requirements of the convention are met.

For many years the Director of Public Prosecutions (who is now also Head of the Crown Prosecution Service of England and Wales, has acted in extradition proceedings before the English courts as the agent of foreign states with whom the United Kingdom has extradition arrangements. Pursuant to Section 3(2)(g) of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985, this function was formally assigned to the Director by the Attorney General on 10 December 1996. The Crown Prosecution Service therefore acts on behalf of all states with whom the United Kingdom has extradition arrangements, including parties to the European Convention on Extradition 1957, unless the requesting state elects to be privately represented. This rarely happens.

Senator Pinochet was arrested by officers of the Extradition Squad of the Metropolitan Police Service at the request of the Kingdom of Spain on the evening of 16 October 1998, pursuant to a Provisional Warrant issued earlier the same evening by Bow Street Magistrates' Court under Section 8 of the Extradition Act 1989 and Article 16 of the convention. The Crown Prosecution Service was informed of the arrest and requested to act on behalf of the Kingdom of Spain on 19 October 1998. Since that time it has acted as the agent of the Kingdom of Spain in respect of this matter.

Cases involving provisional arrest are by their nature urgent. Such requests are transmitted by the prosecuting authorities in the requesting state via Interpol direct to the Extradition Squad of the Organised Crime Group of the Metropolitan Police Service. The practice is for officers from the Extradition Squad to apply for a provisional warrant directly to Bow Street Magistrates' Court. Once the warrant is issued, it will be executed by the officers from the Extradition Squad. Those officers then take the fugitive to Bow Street Magistrates' court and present any objections to bail on behalf of the requesting state. The case will he adjourned to a future date so that a lawyer from the Crown Prosecution Service can attend on behalf of the requesting state.