Lords look into the use of sensitive material in extradition cases

17 December 2014

Following on from last week’s evidence session with the European Commission and Eurojust, the House of Lords Select Committee examining Extradition Law will have an opportunity to explore an issue that has come to prominence quite late in the inquiry: how sensitive material can be used in extradition hearings. 


Wednesday 17 December 2014, Committee Room 4, House of Lords

  • Clair Dobbin and Helen Malcolm QC, both barristers at 3 Raymond Buildings;
  • Raza Husain QC, barrister at Matrix Chambers; and
  • Jeremy Johnson QC, barrister at 5 Essex Court.

Use of sensitive material

The issue of the use of sensitive material by those resisting extradition is one that has recently been before the Supreme Court in the case of VB v Westminster Magistrates’ Court. In the case, Rwanda was seeking the extradition of four people to stand trial for crimes committed during the civil war in 1994. In resisting their extradition, the four requested people wanted to present evidence which, if it were disclosed to the Government of Rwanda, could put individuals in Rwanda at risk. They therefore wanted the Court to consider this evidence without disclosing it to the Rwandan Government or the CPS.

However, the Supreme Court ruled against them, finding that there were no statutory provisions to allow this. In his lead judgment, Lord Mance found that to do so would not be in the interests of open justice.

Areas of discussion

Specific issues the Committee are likely to discuss with the witnesses include:

  • the likely consequences of the Supreme Court’s decision, and the extent to which they agree with the view on closed proceedings;
  • whether they think the Government should now legislate to allow closed hearings without the prosecution present;
  • whether they consider that legislation should be brought in to allow for conditional disclosure of sensitive material, and what impact this may have on the UK’s extradition procedures; and
  • whether there is scope for a special advocate procedure to be introduced into extradition law, as it already is for asylum and immigration cases.

Further information

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