Big threat to UK judicial system

SO WHICH is true? The summer holidays are now a fading memory and we can look forward to trying to keep warm next winter.

SO WHICH is true?

The summer holidays are now a fading memory and we can look forward to trying to keep warm next winter.

Iceland has decided that it will not pursue membership of the European Union, having concluded that it is doing quite nicely, thank you, as an independent country.

Tony Blair will not be our Prime Minister for ever.

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The very nature of our legal and judicial system is up for grabs at a coming EU Ministers meeting in Tampere, Finland.

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I have to tell you that they are all true.

However, it is this last item that worries me most and it should also worry you. I will tell you why.

For centuries we have had a system of legal process that, effectively, protects the citizen from the overbearing weight of the state. We have the benefit of Habeas Corpus, the presumption of innocence and the right of trial by jury.

We have already seen the latter being gradually eroded and, if you remember the case of the plane spotters in Greece a couple of years ago, the evidence that the presumption of innocence does not apply in other member states. You have to prove yourself innocent from behind bars!

All this is now under threat. At the European Council in June, EU leaders, including Tony Blair, instructed the Commission to draw up proposals to transfer issues of criminal law and police co-operation from the 'third pillar' to the 'first pillar'. These 'pillars' describe areas of EU authority or in their words competence. In doing so, it would allow the Council of Ministers to agree, by qualified majority voting, to something in our legal system that the UK would usually veto.

The UK government has already signalled, ahead of the meeting on the 22nd September, that it is prepared to consider the idea and will not reject the proposal. From this you can deduce that behind the scenes talks are already proceeding apace and that a softening up process will begin.

The House of Lords has already warned that if these particular proposals for criminal justice harmonisation are passed, it could become impossible to stop the '"creeping competence" of the Commission and could lead to incremental unification of criminal procedure throughout the EU.

You might be tempted to ask why such is needed when, after all, we are in the EU for the trade. Well, as you all know, our then Prime Minister, Edward Heath, admitted on television that he had lied to parliament and the British people.

The reality is now more evident than ever. The EU is a federal state in the making, with its own laws and systems to be imposed upon us all. There still remains time to try to influence these matters. Your MP should be made aware of the implications of the proposals. That is, of course, if you believe that our parliament in Westminster should determine our lives.

You have been warned.

Tom Wise is a Euro MP for the East of England, representing the UK Independence Party.

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