In Re Levin; Regina v Governor of Brixton Prison, Ex parte Levin: HL 10 Apr 1997

The applicant had been detained pending extradition to the United States on charges of fraud. He said the evidence would not have been sufficient to justify his committal for trial.
Held: The Francis case did not establish that the 1984 Act did not apply to extradition procceedings, and they might also be admissible under the 1988 Act. At issue there was whether the accused had used a computer terminal to gain unauthorised access to the computerised fund transfer services of a bank in order to make fraudulent transfers of funds from accounts of clients of the bank to accounts which he controlled. Each request for a transfer was processed automatically and a record of the transaction was copied to the computer’s historical records. The printout of screen displays of these records was admissible to prove the transfers of funds they recorded. Lord Hoffman stated: ‘they do not assert that such transfers took place. They recorded the transfers . . . The evidential status of the printouts is no different from that of a photocopy of forged cheques.’
Lord Hoffmann discussed the nature of extradition proceedings: ‘Finally, I think that extradition proceedings are criminal proceedings. They are of course criminal proceedings of a very special kind, but criminal proceedings nonetheless.
Both case law and the terms of the Extradition Act 1989 point to extradition proceedings being categorised as criminal. First, the cases. In Amand v. Home Secretary and Minister of Defence of Royal Netherlands Government [1943] A.C. 147 this House approved the decision of the Court of Appeal in Ex parte Alice Woodhall (1888) 20 Q.B.D. 832 that the refusal of an application for habeas corpus by a person committed to prison with a view to extradition was a decision in a ‘criminal cause or matter.’ It would seem to me to follow a fortiori that the extradition proceedings themselves are criminal proceedings and in Amand’s case Viscount Simon L.C. said, at p 156, that the cases demonstrated that ‘the matter in respect of which the accused is in custody may be ‘criminal’ although he is not charged with a breach of our own criminal law.’
Secondly, the Extradition Act 1989. Section 9(2) and paragraph 6(1) of Schedule 1 require that extradition proceedings should be conducted ‘as nearly as may be’ as if they were committal proceedings before magistrates. Committal proceedings are of course criminal proceedings and these provisions would make little sense if the metropolitan magistrate could not apply the normal rules of criminal evidence and procedure. The suggestion of counsel in Ex parte Francis that extradition proceedings were ‘sui generis’ would only make matters worse, because it would throw doubt upon whether the magistrate could apply the rules of civil evidence and procedure either.’


Lord Goff of Chieveley, Lord Nicholls of Birkenhead, Lord Steyn, Lord Hoffmann, Lord Hutton


[1997] Crim LR 891, [1997] 3 All ER 289, [1997] 3 WLR 117, [1998] 1 Cr App Rep 22, [1997] UKHL 27, [1997] AC 741


House of Lords, Bailii


Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 69, Extradition Act 1989, Criminal Justice Act 1988 23 24


England and Wales


Appeal fromRegina v Governor of Brixton Prison and Another, Ex Parte Levin QBD 11-Mar-1996
Extradition proceedings are criminal proceedings so as to allow the admission of computer printout under criminal procedures. . .
ExplainedRegina v Governor of Belmarsh Prison and Another Ex Parte Francis QBD 12-Apr-1995
Justices may not hear evidence from accomplices in extradition proceedings. Also foreign intercept evidence may be used in support of extradition proceedings. Extradition proceedings are not criminal proceedings as such, but may be sui generis. . .
CitedAmand v Home Secretary and Minister of Defence of Royal Netherlands Government HL 1943
A Dutch serviceman who had been arrested for desertion and brought before a magistrate who ordered him to be handed over to the Dutch military authorities under the Allied Forces Act 1940. An application for habeas corpus was rejected by a . .
CitedRegina v King’s Lynn Justices, Ex parte Holland QBD 1993
Section 78 is properly applied in committal proceedings. Examining justices could exclude the evidence from their consideration only if satisfied that its admission at the trial would be so obviously unfair to the proceedings that no judge properly . .

Cited by:

CitedA and others v Secretary of State for the Home Department (No 2) HL 8-Dec-2005
Evidence from 3rd Party Torture Inadmissible
The applicants had been detained following the issue of certificates issued by the respondent that they posed a terrorist threat. They challenged the decisions of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission saying that evidence underlying the . .
CitedRaissi, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department Admn 22-Feb-2007
The claimant sought judicial review of a refusal to make an ex gratia payment for his imprisonment whilst successfully resisting extradition proceedings. Terrorist connections had been suggested, but the judge made an explicit finding that at no . .
CitedMcKinnon v USA and Another Admn 3-Apr-2007
The defendant appealed an order for his extradition. He had used his computer in London to access remotely defence and other government computers in the USA, and deleted files and copied others onto his own computer. He had been offered a deal if he . .
CitedCuoghi v Governor of Her Majesty’s Prison Brixton and Government of Switzerland CA 15-Jul-1997
The obtaining of an order to obtain evidence in support of a writ of habeas corpus application is a criminal matter. The Court of Appeal has no civil jurisdiction. Extradition proceedings, as well as proceedings ancillary or incidental to those . .
CitedVB and Others v Westminster Magistrates SC 5-Nov-2014
Extraditions to follow normal open justice rules
Application was made by Rwanda for the extradition of four individuals to face crimes said to have been committed during their civil war. Witnesses were prepared to give evidence but only in private and not being seen by the representatives of . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Crime, Extradition

Updated: 23 May 2022; Ref: scu.135017