Nick Clegg: Nigel Farage has modern justice - and my position on Andrew Symeou - all wrong

But I do believe strongly in the European Arrest Warrant


In the debate I held with Nigel Farage last night, he made a series of false claims about the European Arrest Warrant (EAW), which is the agreement that allows us to fast-track the extradition of suspects between the countries of the EU. He said he would prefer to rely on historical extradition treaties stretching all the way back to the year 1174. And he implied that Interpol could do the job for us. That is simply not correct – Interpol allows police forces in different countries to exchange information on suspects and fugitives. It is not an extradition tool.

That is why I described Nigel Farage’s position as “complete fantasy”, and set out why international co-operation is essential in the modern world if we are going to bring serious criminals to justice.

It is appalling Nigel Farage is now trying to claim that my use of the word “fantasy” was referring to the miscarriage of justice experienced by Andrew Symeou, who was extradited to Greece in 2009 under a European Arrest Warrant. It would simply never cross my mind to do such a thing. I have met the Symeou family and heard about their traumatic experiences at first hand.

Let me be absolutely clear what I think about this case. No-one should ever have to go through what Andrew and the Symeou family went through. It was a travesty that they were made to suffer so much for so long. His case showed that there were real problems with the way the EAW  was operating and that things needed to change as a result. That is why we have taken action to fix them, both in Brussels and in Westminster.

We’ve changed the rules so that no-one will be extradited unless there is a clear intention on the part of the receiving country to bring the case to trial. That will mean people in Andrew’s situation won’t have to sit in jail for months waiting while their case  is still being investigated. We have also legislated for a proportionality test, which will mean that our courts are able to consider whether extradition would have a disproportionate impact on the fundamental rights of the person who is being requested for extradition. And we will allow for video-conferencing to be used so that people can be questioned from abroad without leaving the UK.

But I also could not believe more strongly in keeping the EAW, which Nigel Farage thinks is “completely unnecessary”. It needed to be reformed but it remains a vital crime-fighting tool – cutting delays in extradition and allowing the police to take effective action to disrupt terrorist networks and cross-border crime gangs, while also ensuring that victims get to see justice done far more quickly.

Nigel Farage and I disagree on most things but we should at least agree to not using the horrendous experience of the Symeou family to score a political point.

Nick Clegg is the Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the Liberal Democrats

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Administrator

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company are a world leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Upholsterer

£9 - £15 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This company are seeking excellent indi...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Support Analyst

£20000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Managed IT Services Provid...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nick Clegg (R) Liberal Democrat Leader and former leader Charles Kennedy MP, joined the general election campaign trail on April 8, 2010  

Charles Kennedy: The only mainstream political leader who spoke sense

Tim Farron

The strangely parallel lives of Oliver Letwin and Ed Miliband

Matthew Norman
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral