HC Deb 09 November 1999 vol 337 c484W
Mr. Coleman

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the role of his Department in respect of British nationals on trial overseas. [98112]

Mr. Battle

I would like to take this opportunity to clarify the oral answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Milton Keynes, North-East (Mr. White) on 2 November 1999,Official Report, column 80. The FCO takes no view as to the innocence or guilt of British nationals on trial overseas—that is a matter for the courts. International law does not allow the FCO to interfere in the judicial procedures of other sovereign states, just as we would not tolerate other countries interfering in our own judicial procedures.

The FCO therefore cannot intervene in the trials of British nationals overseas. However, the FCO will do everything it can to ensure that such nationals have access to legal representation, and insist that they are treated as well as nationals of the countries concerned.