Clegg dismisses Andrew Symeou's Greek hell as "complete fantasy"
Yesterday's Clegg v Farage EU debate on LBC was more entertaining than enlightening. Each swatted the other with hard facts and some tedious stats, and both spouted one or two sentences they may come to regret. According to a snap poll taken by YouGov, Farage beat Clegg by 57% to 36%, which the BBC manage to interpret as a score draw.
But there was one brief exchange which irked His Grace beyond belief.
In the context of the European Arrest Warrant – the agreement which subsumes the English system of Common Law to the Napoleonic system, and permits British citizens to be extradited to another EU country, incarcerated in a foreign prison, refused an early appearance in court and required to prove that you have not committed the offence of which you stand accused – when Nigel Farage raised the appalling experience of Andrew Symeou, Nick Clegg dismissed it as "pure fantasy".
Mr Symeou spent almost a year in a hellish Greek prison accused of killing Jonathan Hiles on the island of Zante in 2007. He was extradited in July 2009 – an innocent young man callously separated from his family and shipped to face trial in a foreign court and rot in a squalid prison with convicted murderers and rapists. There was no presumption of innocence, no Habeas Corpus, no Trial by Jury. Our MPs at Westminster and MEPs in Brussels were powerless to intervene: judicial sovereignty had been ceded.
It took four years for his hearing to commence finally in 2011: the Greek authorities were not trial-ready when they issued the warrant, and nor are they obliged to be. Andrew Symeou even spent his 21st birthday behind bars. It was an appalling miscarriage of justice, and an unimaginable ordeal for the entire Symeou family.
And Nick Clegg grotesquely dismisses this as "complete fantasy".
Corpus Juris has brought an end to the presumption of innocence and the ancient rights of Trial by Jury and Habeas Corpus: unlike the UK, other EU countries are not obliged to charge you or bring you to court within 48 hours of arrest: indeed, you may apparently be detained indefinitely at the foreign prince’s pleasure. And now some Greek laboratory experimenting with your DNA may erroneously find you complicit in an alleged crime, even though your toe has never touched the dust of the Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport. But when the Greek authorities demand your extradition by invoking the European Arrest Warrant, HM Government is absolutely powerless to resist.
None of this, Mr Clegg, is "complete fantasy".
Ask Andrew Symeou.