Lord Advocate warns withdrawal from European arrest regime a boon to criminals



James Wolffe QC

Brexit will bring an end to the high-level co-operation between the UK and other EU countries on extraditions, the Lord Advocate has said.

James Wolffe QC told MSPs that as a result of Brexit extraditions such as those of Slovakian murderer Marek Harcar, who killed Glasgow sales executive Moira Jones in 2008, would not happen unless something similar replaced the European arrest warrant system.

Mr Harcar was convicted and jailed for a minimum of 25 years in 2009 for the murder of Ms Jones.

“A good example is Marek Harcar, the man who was accused and ultimately convicted of the murder of Moira Jones,” he said.

“We issued an arrest warrant and he was picked up very quickly in his home country of Slovakia … and ultimately returned for trial.”

He said Mr Harcar may not have been extradited without the EAW in place.

“Under the arrest warrant system member states are obliged to extradite in accordance with the system regardless of whether the person wanted is a national of that country or not,” Mr Wolffe said.

“I understand Slovakia is a country that will not normally extradite its own nationals, so outside the arrest warrant system a question would have arisen about whether we would be able to secure the extradition.”

His warning came as Brexit secretary Mike Russell announced an extra £27 million would be spent to prepare Scotland for a no-deal Brexit.

The money will be used to get 200 pieces of legislation through Holyrood and to prepare the agricultural sector.