VB 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 Rwanda.
Held: The magistrate hearing such proceedings had no power under the 2003 Act to hear evidence in a closed court procedure, prohibiting the disclosure to the requesting state of evidence given by such individuals whose extradition was being sought. Extradition proceedings were not in a special category which would justify a departure from the principle of open justice.
Lord Hughes said: ‘An extradition judge will bear in mind that where the issue is the presence of a prima facie case, he is generally not concerned to assess the credibility of the witnesses relied upon, at least unless they are so damaged that no court of trial could properly rely on them. Nevertheless, it is likely that any extradition judge will be more cautious in relation to the admission of anonymous evidence on the issue of prima facie case than in relation to section 81 or 87 issues, and the more cautious still where it is proffered by the requesting State. It is clear that the overriding principle is that such evidence can be admitted only when it is fair to all parties that it should be. It must remain an unusual exception to the general practice. That is likely to mean that an extradition judge will apply by analogy, so far as may relevant, the same principles as are stipulated in the 2009 Act for criminal prosecutions in England and Wales. He will need to be satisfied that there is genuine cause for anonymity, generally a justified fear for the safety of the witness or others which cannot otherwise be protected, and that justice requires that the evidence be given. It will also be likely to mean that a crucial factor in his decision whether to admit it will be the extent of the means available to the other party to challenge it. In considering this question he will no doubt want to consider whether the party tendering the witness has or has not provided the maximum possible information about the witness, short of identifying material, which could be deployed in challenging him. He will ordinarily require that the court itself is given the fullest information of identity. He will no doubt have in mind that anonymity may often weaken the weight which can be given to evidence given. Providing, however, he makes all relevant enquiries and admits the evidence of a person who is anonymous to a party only if satisfied that the proceedings are nevertheless fair, he has the power to hear such a witness.’

Lord Neuberger, President, Lord Mance, Lord Reed, Lord Hughes, Lord Toulson
UKSC 2014/0103, [2014] UKSC 59, [2015] 1 AC 1195, [2014] 3 WLR 1336, [2014] WLR(D) 470
SC, Bailii, WLRD, SC Summary, Bailii Summary
Extradition Act 2003
England and Wales
Appeal fromVB and Others v Westminster Magistrates’ Court and Others Admn 27-Mar-2014
The applicants challenged their extradition to Rwanda to stand trial for matters which would be an offence under the laws of both countries. Application was made for evidence to be given in secret and without disclosure to the requesting state.
CitedSchtraks v Government Of Israel And Others HL 6-Sep-1962
Extradition — Habeas corpus — Nature of proceedings — Whether further evidence not before chief magistrate when making committal order admissible — Extradition Act, 1870 (33 and 34 Vict. c. 52), s. 3 (1).
Extradition — Political offence . .
CitedUnited States of America, Regina (on the Application of) v Bow Street Magistrates’ Court Admn 6-Sep-2006
The defendant a serving prisoner sought an adjournment of his extradition to a time closer to the end of the sentence he was to serve in England.
Held: The court had sympathy with the argument that where the district judge is being invited to . .
CitedW (Algeria) and Another v Secretary of State for The Home Department SC 7-Mar-2012
Each of the three appellants, suspected of terrorist activity, objected to their proposed return to Algeria on deportation, saying that it was accepted that torture was routinely used against people in their position, and without redress. . .
CitedIn re Nielsen HL 1984
The House considered the role of the metropolitan magistrate under section 9 and 10 of the 1870 Act in the context of an application for extradition under the treaty between Denmark and the United Kingdom. At section 9 hearings it had been the . .
CitedIn 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 . .
CitedLodhi v Governor of HMP Brixton and Government of United Arab Emirates Admn 13-Mar-2001
. .
CitedHilali v The National Court, Madrid and Another (No 5) Admn 26-May-2006
Appeal against an extradition order for his extradition to Spain. The court was concerned with an issue of ‘extraneous circumstances’ arising under, respectively, section 6(1) of the 1989 Act and section 13 of the 2003 Act. . .
CitedRegina v Taylor and Crabb CACD 22-Jul-1994
The defendants had stood trial at the Central Criminal Court for murder. At the trial a witness anonymised as Miss A was allowed to give evidence anonymously, without revealing her address, behind a screen so arranged that she, the judge, jury and . .
CitedIn Re Khalid Al-Fawwaz (Application for a Writ of Habeas Corpus) (on Appeal From a Divisional Court of the Queen’s Bench Division) HL 17-Dec-2001
The fact that a crime for which extradition was sought was extra-territorial one to the country making the request, was not enough to counter the application. The schedule required the person to be ‘accused or have been convicted of an extradition . .
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 . .
CitedRaissi, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department CA 14-Feb-2008
The claimant appealed against refusal of his request for judicial review of the defendant’s decision not to award him damages after his wrongful arrest and detention after he was wrongly suspected of involvement in terrorism. He had been discharged . .
CitedRegina v Davis HL 18-Jun-2008
The defendant had been tried for the murder of two men by shooting them at a party. He was identified as the murderer by three witnesses who had been permitted to give evidence anonymously, from behind screens, because they had refused, out of fear, . .
CitedJS (Sri Lanka), Regina (on The Application of) v Secretary of State for The Home Department SC 17-Mar-2010
The asylum seeker was accused of complicity in war crimes in Sri Lanka. He had worked as an intelligence officer but his cover had been broken and he fled to the UK. It was said that he was excluded from protection as an asylum seeker.
Held: . .
Appeal fromPomiechowski v District Court of Legunica, Poland Admn 15-Jun-2011
The three defendants wished to appeal against orders for their extradition to Poland. They had been arrested, and while in custody had used the prison’s support services, who failed to serve their notices in time.
Held: The notices were . .
CitedHalligen v Secretary of State for The Home Department Admn 21-Jun-2011
The Home Secretary argued that the defendant’s attempted appeal against an extradition order was out of time and that accordingly the court had no jurisdiction to hear an appeal. Notice of service of the appeal was one day out of time.
Held: . .
CitedLukaszewski v The District Court In Torun, Poland SC 23-May-2012
Three of the appellants were Polish citizens resisting European Arrest Warrants. A fourth (H), a British citizen, faced extradition to the USA. An order for the extradition of eachhad been made, and acting under advice each filed a notice of appeal . .
CitedAl-Sirri v Secretary of State for The Home Department SC 21-Nov-2012
The appellants had been refused refugee status on the ground that they were suspected of having been guilty of terrorist acts. They said that the definition of terrorism applied within the UK was wider than that in the Convention which contained the . .
CitedHalligen v Secretary of State for The Home Department Admn 19-Dec-2012
. .

Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.


Leading Case

Updated: 02 November 2021; Ref: scu.538298