Extradition from the UK Unconstitutional, Says Former Fugitive Raymond Nevitt

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On 19 September 2015, it was reported that Raymond Nevitt, a British national who is currently being detained in South Africa, has cited the prospect of not receiving a fair trial in the United Kingdom as the reason for him absconding from the country in 2006. Mr Nevitt is currently contesting his extradition from South Africa to the UK. A report is here.

Background

Mr Nevitt was the one time director of Revelle Ltd, a company that sold computer components in the PC maintenance field.

On 3 October 2006, Mr Nevitt was convicted by Manchester Crown Court of conspiracy to fraudulently obtain government training grants. Mr Nevitt was sentenced to seven months’ imprisonment, substituted on appeal to 18 months’ imprisonment, and was disqualified from acting as a director for ten years. His Honour Judge Steiger granted Mr Nevitt pre-sentence bail; he absconded, allegedly fleeing the UK using an Irish passport, and was sentenced in absentia.

This conviction stemmed from a linked investigation into a broader, and larger-scale factoring fraud, first referred to the Serious Fraud Office in June 2001 (the ‘factoring offences’).

In March 2008, Mr Nevitt was convicted in absentia, for these factoring offences, again by Manchester Crown Court, on five counts of fraudulent trading, following an 11-week trial. Mr Nevitt was sentenced to 45 months’ imprisonment. In October 2008, Mr Nevitt was further ordered to pay a £1.6m confiscation order, by May 2009, or face an additional 10 years’ imprisonment.

It is believed that Mr Nevitt lived in Spain and Thailand before moving to South Africa, as early as 2010.  On the 13 May 2015, Mr Nevitt was arrested in Cape Town, South Africa, for the purpose of extradition, having spent nine years as a fugitive. Mr Nevitt now faces extradition to the UK, to serve his sentence. The timetable for his extradition hearing is yet to be determined.

Summer 2015 Development

Mr Nevitt is reportedly in the process of challenging the constitutionality of South Africa’s Extradition Act, and the validity of notification from the Minister of Justice, Michael Masutha, that his extradition had been requested, as well as the validity of the arrest warrant issued in South Africa, and the lawfulness of his arrest and detention.

In an affidavit issued in those proceedings, Mr Nevitt maintains his innocence, and has stated: “Pending sentence I was released on bail and left the United Kingdom during about December 2006 in that I was of the view that I would not be afforded a fair trial in respect of the (alleged) offences,”.

Mr Nevitt has added: “I have not been accused of or charged with any crime in South Africa, and the warrant of arrest related solely to my extradition in respect of offences for which I have already been convicted in the United Kingdom.”

According to the report, Mr Nevitt’s challenge to the constitutionality of the Extradition Act also centres around the fact that the magistrate who issued the arrest warrant for his arrest locally was provided with limited information on Mr Nevitt’s legal circumstances and was, therefore, unable to exercise proper discretion, based on the conduct that he is alleged to have committed.

Accordingly, Mr Nevitt submits that the magistrate had no discretion, which runs contrary to the Constitutional right not to be deprived of freedom arbitrarily or without just cause.

A date for Nevitt’s application has not yet been set.

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