Mother of footballer attacked in Crete challenging parliament over plans to scrap European Arrest Warrants

Pic: Rockcohen

Pic: Rockcohen

The mother of a Croydon footballer who was left on life support after being attacked on holiday in Crete has voiced concerns to parliament about plans to withdraw from the European Arrest Warrant.

Maggie Hughes spoke to a 60-strong audience in the Churchill Room at the Houses of Parliament on Thursday. She challenged David Cameron over his plans to withdraw from the European Arrest Warrant agreement, which makes it easier for British suspects to be tried abroad. She told the audience that the move would “destroy” families’ ability to get justice for British victims oversees.

In 2008, Robert Hughes, also of Croydon, was stabbed with a broken bottle and his head was stamped on, leaving doctors fearful that he could die within 48 hours or be seriously brain-damaged. He made a full recovery and started playing for Bromley FC before being signed to Welling United in 2009.

Six men were extradited from the UK to Crete in December 2009 under European arrest warrants, after failing to return voluntarily to face charges relating to the attack. Curtis Taylor, Daniel Bell, Sean Branton, and Joseph Bruckland, all from Surrey were sentenced to four years in prison for the serious assault. George Hollands and Benjamin Herdman, were cleared of all the charges.

The issue has proved contentious. On 8 September 2010, the Home Secretary commissioned an independent review of the UK’s extradition arrangements. Reporting on the issue, a parliamentary subcommittee chaired by Lord Hanna and Lord Bowness, called for the government to ensure the rights of extradited persons were protected ‘in practice as well as in law’.

They urged the Government to: “seek renegotiation of the European Arrest Warrant to correct a number of serious issues, which should to be added to ensure that the human rights implications of extradition under the European Arrest Warrant are not disproportionate to the alleged crime.

Speaking at the time, Teresa May, Home Secretary told parliament: “Yesterday (October 15, 2012), I announced that the government’s current thinking is that we will opt out of all pre-Lisbon treaty police and criminal justice measures.”

“The government will give very careful consideration to these measures, including the European Arrest Warrant, and will then seek to opt back into those individual measures where it is in our national interest.”

The Home Secretary has made it no secret that she is in favour of reigning in Britain’s involvement with European affairs and practices. David Cameron announced a referendum would be held on the UK’s membership in the EU before 2017.

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