Warning over EU arrest warrant exit
Published 04/03/2013 | 19:11
Nick Clegg has warned that Britain could become a "safe haven" for foreign criminals if it pulls out of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW).
He issued the fresh warning shot to the Tories over plans to opt out of EU-wide justice and policing measures after meeting campaigners.
Among them was the mother of an ex-footballer badly beaten in Crete who complained "ideological battles in Westminster" were putting justice at risk.
Maggie Hughes believes four men found guilty by a Greek court of an attack which left son Robert with brain damage would have escaped justice if such a warrant had not been in force.
Home Secretary Theresa May has indicated that the Government plans to exercise its opt-out from 133 measures including the EAW - and negotiate fresh deals on some elements. Under the 2007 Lisbon Treaty, the Government must decide by May 2014 whether to withdraw or remain subject to the entire package.
Mrs May has declined to confirm which measures she will seek to sign back up to amid highly divisive negotiations with Liberal Democrat coalition partners.
Mr Clegg signalled his determination to keep Britain within the arrest warrant system and other elements seen as "essential" by the police for national security and public safety.
"This was a very productive meeting which focused on an issue of huge importance - what do we need as a country to keep the public safe from crime, and deliver justice for the victims of crime," he said in a statement.
"While some measures of European co-operation on crime are old, out of date or defunct, the police and other law enforcement agencies consistently tell us that other measures are essential for our national security and public safety.
"The European Arrest Warrant is one of those key measures. Without it, victims of crime like Maggie may never have seen those who beat her son nearly to death brought to justice, and as the police say, without it Britain could become a safe haven for Europe's criminals."