On 9 October 2015, the High Court dismissed the appeal of Pitor Hein, against the order for his extradition, to Poland from the United Kingdom, pursuant to a European Arrest Warrant (EAW).
Three grounds of appeal were dismissed: passage of time, under section 14 of the Extradition Act 2003 (EA 2003), and proportionality, under both Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), and section 21A EA 2003, respectively. The judgment is here.
An EAW was issued by the Regional Court in Opole in Poland, on 13 December 2012, for Mr Hein’s arrest, and certified by the National Crime Agency (NCA) on 6 January 2015. The EAW relates to five alleged offences of fraud committed between 22 May and 30 July 2002, totalling £2,753 in value.
District Judge Goldspring, 19 June 2015
Before District Judge Goldstein, sitting at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, Mr Hein (who was not legally represented) raised two challenges to extradition:
- Due to the passage of time it would be unjust or oppressive to extradite him, pursuant to section 14 EA 2003.
- It would contravene his rights under Article 8 ECHR, pursuant to 21 EA 2003.
District Judge Goldstein was also obliged to consider the independent statutory proportionality bar under s. 21A EA 2003.
On 19 June 2015, District Judge Goldspring rejected all three grounds and ordered Mr Hein’s extradition to Poland. His appeal was granted by Cranston J, who observed that the matters were “finely balanced”, and that the outcome might have been different if Mr Hein had been legally represented.
High Court, 9 October 2015
Mr Hein (who was now legally represented) pursued the same bars to extradition on appeal. Mr Justice Supperstone sitting at the High Court held:
- It is not possible to rely on the bar if Mr Hein had been responsible for the delay. Gomes applied. District Judge Goldstein was entitled to find that Mr Hein was a fugitive on the evidence; nothing undermined this finding.
- District Judge Goldstein had proper regard to the relevant authorities. Norris; HH; Celinski applied. The question is whether the DJ made the wrong decision: In the Matter of B (a child) (FC). The District Judge was entitled to find that Mr Hein is facing serious allegations and, if convicted, a custodial sentence is likely to follow. He noted that the interests of children are a primary consideration, and had regard to the existence of Mr Hein in the UK, his family life, and the hardship he would suffer, were he to be extradited. District Judge Goldstein was entitled to consider the factors in favour of discharge. The finding that the Mr Hein’s children can and will be provided with an appropriate environment in which to be brought up, taken alongside the factors in favour of discharge, reduced the public interest in honouring extradition arrangements. However, this finding did not make it disproportionate for Mr Hein to be extradited.
With respect to the statutory proportionality bar, under s. 21A EA 2003, there was no evidence that the Polish authorities would take measures which would be more coercive than Mr Hein’s extradition.