Britain is to send a senior prosecutor to Washington to help in the war against terrorism by speeding up extradition proceedings between the two countries.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) lawyer will have a permanent post based in the US Justice Department, where he will co-ordinate investigations and prosecutions involving terrorism and other cross-border crime.
Sir David Calvert-Smith QC, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said yesterday that he hoped the appointment would help cut through red tape, which could hold up investigations and jeopardise trials. He said: "The growing menace of cross-border crime means that now more than ever before we must break down the barriers between countries, so as to cripple the operations of international criminals who treat the law with contempt."
Since the attacks of 11 September, British and American security services have used shared intelligence to arrest and prosecute a number of terrorist suspects. The new Washington-based prosecutor, to be called a liaison magistrate, will be in place by November where he will work to ensure that shared evidence is presented in admissible form for the relevant jurisdiction where the prosecution is due to take place. He has not been named for security reasons.
Raj Joshi, head of the European and International Division at the CPS, said the new post was one of a number being set up by the service around the world. He said: "The terrible events of 11 September have made it imperative that we do all that is required to help in the fight against terrorism and collaborate with our American colleagues to tackle this great threat."
Last week prosecutors from more than 60 countries agreed a series of measures to break down the barriers that allow international terrorists, drug dealers and gangsters to escape justice. The new plan was approved at a week-long conference of the International Association of Prosecutors, hosted by the CPS.
The plan includes commitments to create a worldwide network of experts and prosecutors specialising in combating serious and organised crime; draw up an international charter for victims and witnesses; pool information on how individual countries are tackling terrorism; develop a task force on mutual legal assistance, judicial co-operation and extradition; and ensure the lessons of major operations in one country are learned in others.