On 12th July, the Divisional Court handed down the Judgement in Shumba, Bechian and Henta v France  EWHC 1762 (Admin), and found that the Appellants face a real risk of Article 3 breach if extradited to France.
MW Solicitors acted for the second Appellant Mr Bechian in this significant High Court decision.
This case is important as it is the first case in which conditions in French prisons, which were criticised by the recent Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) report dated 7 April 2017, have been considered by the Divisional Court.
The Appellants relied on expert evidence which suggested that if extradited, they would serve their sentences in one of four prisons, namely Villepinte, Fresnes, Nanterre or Fleury-Mérogis, all within the Paris region. These prisons have been the subject of heavy criticism by the CPT due to overcrowding amongst other unsatisfactory conditions of detention including lack of time outside the cell for prisoners, lack of a proper bed and the prescence of rats within the prison.
The Court held at para. 87 that
“In relation to those four prisons, we are satisfied on the evidence that there may be substantial grounds for believing that the Appellants face a real risk of inhuman or degrading treatment if they are extradited”.
Furthermore, the Court concluded that the first stage of C-404/15 and C-659/15 PPU Aranyosi and Caldararu  3 WLR 807 had been met and that
“there is sufficient evidence before the Court to require the Court to make a request of the French authorities setting out certain questions on which we need specific information before this Court could permit extradition of these Appellants to France” (para. 89).
The Court have requested answers from the French authorities to four detailed questions around the conditions of detention that Mr Bechian and the two other Appellant’s will be held in if their extradition to France is executed. We await the response to these questions, which are due by 7th September.
Mr Bechian was represented by Alison MacDonald QC and Emilie Pottle of Counsel. Mr Henta and Mr Shumba were represented by Alison MacDonald QC and Emilie Pottle (for Mr Henta) and Saoirse Townshend (for Mr Shumba).
At MW, our mission, is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including those who are being threatened with Extradition. Our experienced and specialist Extradition Lawyers can help you identify grounds for a challenge and mount a defense against an Extradition request.
The recently reported increase in rape trials collapsing due to failures by the Police or Prosecuters in disclosing evidence to defence Solicitors has highlighted that the justice system has "systemic" problems.
The Crown Prosecution Service discontinued the case after the Judge described the Crown as "spectacularly" failing in their disclosure obligations.
The five young defendants faced a charge of robbery at Camberwell Green Youth Court but the case against them was dropped after Christopher Maynard submitted that there had been "egregious" failings by the Crown Prosecution Service in disclosing evidence which led to the Judge refusing the Crown's application to adjourn the case.
John Molleskog commented that
"the case was the latest in a series of prosecutions where the CPS has dropped a case due to disclosure problems, as has been well reported in national media in recent times"
At McMillan Williams, our mission is to "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including those charged with a criminal offences. We offer a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week service for suspects detained in police custody.
Our Team of specialist Criminal Defence Lawyers will provide you with expert advice and assistance whenever and wherever you need us.
In a recent Landmark decision, the High Court ruled that UK Citizen, Lauri Love, should not be extradited to the United States of America to face trial for hacking computer systems based in the US.
Love is accused, whilst working with others between the periods of October 2012 to October 2013, of hacking into private companies and several US Government agencies including The US Federal Reserve, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), US Army, US Department of Defence and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The US Government alledges that this resulted in millions’ of dollars’ worth of damage. If Love is found guilty he could face more than 60 years’ imprisonment.
This appeal decision overturned District Judge Tempia’s ruling at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 16th September 2016 to have Love extradited to the US to stand trial against these allegations.
This appeal was heard by Lord Burnett and Justice Ouseley. The High Court came to the conclusion that that:
In light of these arguments it was held to be unnecessary to consider further arguments of Articles 3 and 8 ECHR due to the conclusions drawn relating to the two grounds.
Love suffers with Asperger’s Syndrome, depression, eczema and asthma. The High Court considered his high risk of suicide and serious deterioration of his health upon extradition.
The ‘forum bar’ allows a court to prevent extradition of the requested person if the extradition is not in the interests of justice having considered the factors as per section 19B and 83A-E of the Extradition Act 2003. This was introduced by the Home Secretary at the time Theresa May when she intervened and prevented the extradition of Gary McKinnon who was similarly accused of hacking into US government websites, was a high suicide risk and suffered with Asperger Syndrome.
Love’s relevant activity was performed in the United Kingdom, using his computers at home. However, in considering relevant factors it was considered that most of the harm suffered was in the US and that this is a ‘very weighty factor.’
The High Court stated that significant weight should have been placed on the fact that the prosecution could proceed in the UK Courts. The High Court was persuaded by Love’s connection to the UK. He is a British national, studying in the UK, is supported by his parents and has a girlfriend. He has close connection with his family who cares for him and receives medical treatment which he may not receive if extradited. These connections outweigh factors for his extradition.
Love was discharged however, the High Court stated:
“125. We emphasise however that it would not be oppressive to prosecute Mr Love in England for the offences alleged against him. Far from it. If the forum bar is to operate as intended, where it prevents extradition, the other side of the coin is that prosecution in this country rather than impunity should then follow, as Mr Fitzgerald fully accepted. Much of Mr Love’s argument was based on the contention that this is indeed where he should be prosecuted
126. The CPS must now bend its endeavours to his prosecution, with the assistance to be expected from the authorities in the United States, recognising the gravity of the allegations in this case, and the harm done to the victims. As we have pointed out, the CPS did not intervene to say that prosecution in England was inappropriate. If proven, these are serious offences indeed.”
This is a landmark Judgment as it is the first time that the ‘Forum bar’ has been successfully argued. It is very rare for the UK to refuse an extradition request and this will no doubt have a profound impact on similar extradition requests to the US and elsewhere.
At MW, Our Mission, is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including those who are being threatened with Extradition. Our experienced and specialist Extradition Lawyers can help you identify grounds for a challenge and mount a defence against an Extradition request.
If you need a criminal defence lawyer or need an extradition lawyer, our talented and specialist Crime and Extradition Solicitors are here to help you. Don't delay call us today on 020 3551 8500 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On 8 January 2018 HMP Nottingham was visited by prison inspectors who deemed the institution to be “fundamentally unsafe” with “serious failures in safety”.
Consequently the Chief Inspector of Prisons has invoked the urgent notification process, placing the prison under emergency measures and requiring the Justice Secretary to take immediate action to safeguard the lives of resident prisoners and prevent “further tragedies”.
In the past two years there have been eight self-inflicted deaths at HMP Nottingham. Fleur Hallett, solicitor in the Actions Against Public Authorities department at the firm is currently representing the family of one of these men. Time and time again when representing bereaved families, they are not only searching for answers, but the inherent desire for public bodies to learn from mistakes and implement changes, to prevent other families having to suffer from the l0ss of a loved one. It is therefore devastating for these families to learn through the most recent inspection that HMP Nottingham have repeatedly failed to achieve recommendations made by the Prison and Probation Ombudsman and HM Prisons’ Inspectorate.
For further details, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons letter to the Justice Secretary can be read here:
At MW, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including bereaved families who deserve to know the circumstances of their loved ones death.
Bellamy Forde and Clare Evans of MW’s Civil and Commercial Litigation Division are instructed by Owen Crooks in pursuing claims of Misfeasance in Public Office and Malicious Prosecution against the Chief Constable of Staffordshire Police arising from his wrongful conviction and subsequent acquittal in 2012.
Owen was convicted along with 5 others for the murder of Kevin Nunes, a drug dealer from the Whitmore Reans District of Wolverhampton in 2006. After being convicted, a report was commission by the Court of Appeal which followed a disclosure made by a police officer.
It has subsequently come to light that Staffordshire Police’s Sensitive Policing Unit was riven with bad practice and ultimately, unlawful conduct in relation to a number of very important practices that underpin the Criminal Justice System. That conduct subsequently led to the acquittal of Owen and others. In turn, that led to the Independent Police Complaints Commission establishing an investigation (Operation Kalmia) into Staffordshire Police, a report that is eagerly awaited.
It has been reported that the report will criticise a number of police officers and the force as a whole.
Owen eagerly awaits sight of that report as he seeks redress for the conduct of officers and the force as a whole with at least one newspaper describing the force as being “out of control”.
on 4th October the IPCC published their long awaited Operation Kalmia report of the investigation into Staffordshire Police.
MW Solicitors is proud to announce its ranking in the 2018 Chambers & Partners UK Guide for Crime: Extradition.
Despite being a newly formed Department, MW has been quickly recognised by fellow practitioners, Judges and clients alike as a leading firm specialising in this niche area of law.
The Department is well known for successfully challenging extradition requests from all over the world, focussing on complex and technical legal challenges as well as on human rights and political grounds. The Department has been involved in some of the most novel points of extradition law and has challenged requests from USA, Peru, Nigeria, Albania, Croatia and most other European Countries. It also advises on Mutual Legal Assistance and challenging Interpol Red Notices.
Chirag Patel practices in complex criminal defence and extradition law. He set up the Extradition Department at McMillan Williams in 2015 and heads a team of 11 talented lawyers. Chirag robustly and energetically challenges extradition requests and defends the rights of his clients with considerable success. Chirag also advises on Interpol Red Notices, their removal, Mutual Legal Assistance, and Human Rights. Recent highlights include representation in the only Nigerian extradition request (ongoing), being granted the first ever application for permission to appeal against extradition out of time, and securing discharge for a Requested Person allegedly involved in a €60million tax carousel fraud in Germany.
Chirag qualified in 2003, obtained his Higher Rights of Audience in 2010 and was promoted to Partner in 2015.
Chirag Patel has "a very good way of breaking down something complicated and making it simple." Alongside his own work in extradition cases and appeals, he heads the extradition department and has been credited with "ensuring the firm maintains the highest of standards." One commentator notes: "He has a lovely manner with clients which means they have absolute trust in him."
If you need representation in a criminal defence or an extradition case, our talented and specialist Crime and Extradition Solicitors are here to help you. Call us today on 020 3551 8500 or email us at email@example.com.
Despite what some media outlets might suggest, UK detention facilities are no holiday camp for those spending time inside.
Whilst images have surfaced in the media showing inmates playing computer games and taking ‘group selfies’ that could well fool us into believing that there is enjoyment amongst those on the inside, no one has considered what it is like for those that are mistreated and harmed when their care is within the hands of the state, and what it would be like to loose the basic human rights that we are all granted.
When detention facilities start to reach capacity, in a similar way to any institution that is designed to house human beings, the pressure on that institution, and the staff that work within it, increases. When capacity turns into over crowding, the ratio between the supervisors and the supervised becomes disproportionate, unsafe and creates an environment such that incidents occur which would normally have otherwise been prevented.
The Human Rights Act 1998 sets out the fundamental rights and freedoms that everyone in the UK is entitled to. Whilst those that are detained may have to suffer the curtailment of certain rights, such as personal freedom and the right to vote, they are still entitled to share the benefit of and receive the protection of all other basic human rights, and in particular the rights to life and prohibition of torture. We must consider whether we are doing enough to protect the human rights of some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
The issues surrounding the mistreatment of detainees was brought into the centre of media storm in April 2004 when Gareth Myatt, at the age of 15 years, became the first child to die in a privately run Secure Training Centre (a young offender’s institution equivalent to a prison). Gareth died after being restrained by three adult officers, under a Home Office and Youth Justice Board approved restraint technique known as the ‘seated double embrace’. Gareth weighed a mere six and a half stone. The restraints system, introduced in 1998, came with a promise that the use of it would be constantly reviewed, however a medical review into the use of restraints was ordered after Gareth’s death, and the ‘seated double embrace’ technique was withdrawn.
In August 2004 Adam Rickwood became the second individual to die in a privately run Secure Training Centre. Adam hanged himself, taking his own life, after being restrained by centre staff.
The mistreatment of detainees, especially those under the age of eighteen, is not a subject that has been greatly reported on, nor is it considered to be one of the major pressing issues of today’s society, a troubled child is more easy to pass by, Oliver Twist, and not Artful Dodger, got the happy ending.
Following the tragic deaths of Gareth Myatt and Adam Rickwood, reports were commissioned and opinions were sought. One such report was the Independent Review of Restraint in Juvenile Secure Settings, commissioned in 2008. This was carried out by two social workers with many years’ experience in practice and management, and they attended, quite freely, many Secured Training Centres to speak directly with the children and staff on the topic of restraint.
The Ministry of Justice, followed up on the recommendations with a new behaviour management and restraint system known as Minimising and Managing Physical Restraint (MMPR). The aim of MMPR was to provide staff with the knowledge and ability to recognise certain behaviours in young people, and to use de-escalation and diversion strategies, through the application of behaviour management techniques to minimise the use of restraint. The report also highlighted that staff must be able to clearly demonstrate why restraint was necessary.
We have also seen the introduction of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015, which brings in the construction of ‘Secure Colleges,’ in place of the Secured Training Centres, where the emphasis is on greater education for the young offenders for rehabilitation purposes.
The introduction of the MMPR, together with the Act, arguably demonstrates that the Government has recognised the need to overhaul the rehabilitation of young offenders. It paints a picture that there will not be a reoccurrence of the tragic events that led to the death of the two young individuals.
However, when a copy of the MMPR was requested by charity Article 39, a largely redacted version was provided. The reasoning given for the large redaction was that the techniques used on young offenders, are also used on adult prisoners, and it was argued that disclosure of the manual will allow adult prisoners to develop counter measures against the techniques.
The report stated that ‘it is recognised that the required cultural change is expected to take a sustained period of time.’ However, many would argue that there has been no significant change in the way in which the human rights of detainees are being safeguarded and that the Secure Colleges are merely a cheaper and easier to run alternative to the Secured Training Centres as they are intended to house more offenders in one location than their predecessors.
Some believe that the new systems, and not the actual restraint techniques themselves, are what have been specifically designed for children. It certainly raises the question “have we honoured the deaths of Gareth Myatt and Adam Rickwood?”.
Only time will tell.
At McMillan Williams, we strive to uphold the rule of law and challenge any abuse to the human rights of those who have been detained. We believe that as a nation, we must protect each other from those who seek to harm us or prevent us from enjoying all civil liberties, and whilst Government reports bring much needed public scrutiny and awareness of the issue, there is still a way to go to ensure that we are fully protecting those that are detained by the state.
A special consideration should apply to those most vulnerable, such as the youth members of our society.
At MW, our mission is "To make quality legal services accessible to everyone" including vulnerable young people who find themselves detained in Secure Training Centres.
If you believe that your or a family members Human Rights have been breached and you wish to discuss the case with one of our experienced and dedicated Civil Liberties Lawyers, call us today on 020 3551 8500 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Home Secretary, Theresa May MP, announced a Review into Deaths in Police Custody after official figures from the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) revealed a shocking rise in custody deaths. At McMillan Williams, we welcome the Review and believe it is long overdue, the delay has been inexcusable, as has been the loss of life that has precipitated it.
However, we believe that if it is to make a difference, it must make a real attempt to bring about the accountability of the police, IPCC and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and their co-operation with bereaved families who demand a full and fair investigation into the death of their family members.
The current system suffers from systemic failures which we have witnessed first hand. For example, we represented the family in an Inquest where the police were criticised for a number of failures in locating a missing person before he was found dead and cases in which they have not properly understood mental health issues which we understand is an area of concern and will be within the scope of the Review.
On 30 April, Theresa May announced a major package of measures to reform the way the police use stop and search powers, particularly in their use against Ethnic Minorities. Many of our Lawyers are from Ethnic Minority backgrounds and as an employer we have been recognised for our Diversity, but more importantly we understand that Justice is a Birthright and fully support any reforms which combat inequality.
We hope that the Reforms and the Review will be thorough and comprehensive in getting to the root causes of these failures and make vigorous enquiries into why deaths in custody have risen in the last 5 years.