French court delay in runaway schoolgirl case

French magistrates today postponed a decision on the extradition to the UK of Robert Williams to face charges in connection with runaway schoolgirl Laura Stainforth.

A 20-minute hearing in Douai, northern France, was adjourned until 3 February - despite Mr Williams agreeing to be extradited.

After his appearance, behind closed doors in front of three judges, Mr Williams was returned to prison while final formalities are completed.

"There is a delay because the UK authorities have requested certain further procedural work," explained court spokesman Eric Veillant.

"Mr Williams was asked if he would agree to the terms of the extradition warrant and he said he did."

Williams, wearing a mauve jersey and black tracksuit bottoms, was escorted into court by two policemen.

He has been held in jail since he and 15-year-old Laura turned up at the British consulate in Lille a week ago after going missing.

Laura met 49-year-old Williams through an internet chat room, and disappeared from home with him.