(DailyMail) – British citizens face being subjected to secret EU ‘Big Brother’ spying missions.
Labour is supporting plans for a dramatic expansion in the powers available to fellow member states who accuse UK nationals of committing even the most minor crimes while visiting.
Under the plans, other countries could get the right to demand surveillance on a UK resident who has returned home, and access to his or her bank records.
They could also be entitled to demand British police take a suspect’s DNA or other samples.
Civil liberties groups across the continent are furious at the proposals, designed to bolster the controversial new European Evidence Warrant – a partner to the deeply controversial European Arrest Warrant.
Cases to which the arrest warrant has been applied include a man accused of the ‘theft of a dessert’ in a Polish restaurant.
Under the proposed new regime, such a person could be placed under surveillance or have his bank records accessed to check that he had paid for the dessert, critics say.
Minutes of a parliamentary committee show Labour is quietly backing the idea. Home office minister Meg Hillier said: ‘We would in principle support a new and comprehensive instrument based on mutual recognition that covers all types of evidence’.
Last night Tory justice spokesman Dominic Grieve said: ‘Giving states which do not afford citizens the same legal protections as the UK the right to demand DNA samples, intercept communications or snoop on the personal data of British citizens is a worrying development.
‘In supporting this proposal, Labour is yet again showing its relish for surveillance and disdain for civil liberties’.
The new evidence warrant will allow magistrates or judges in one EU state to authorise searches of a person’s property in another state, and seizure of evidence.
But a European Commission Green Paper proposes going much further by enabling authorities in any member state to engage in ‘real time’ interception of communications in another EU state, monitor a person’s bank account, and demand bodily samples, DNA or fingerprints.
In this country, police may require a DNA sample only from someone who is under arrest for a serious enough offence to warrant a jail term.
Concerns about the proposal are based on the way the European Arrest Warrant has been abused.
The campaign group Fair Trials International said it had led to people from all over Europe being sent to other EU states for the most minor offences, or jailed after unfair trials.
In 2008, nearly 14,000 warrants were issued across Europe, with 351 people extradited from the UK alone.
One case involved a carpenter who fitted wardrobe doors and then removed them when the client refused to pay him.
In another, Polish authorities requested the extradition of a suspect for theft of a dessert.
There are also fears that the proposed new regime could place enormous pressure on UK police, already struggling to cope with the number of European Arrest Warrant requests they are receiving.
Source: Daily Mail