Ipswich: Sarah Shields case shows importance of European Arrest Warrant - MP

The importance of the European Arrest Warrant was laid bare in parliament by an Ipswich MP citing the use of the agreement to extradite an Ipswich man to Spain to stand trial for the alleged murder of his girlfriend.

Ben Gummer posed the question yesterday, as Home Secretary Theresa May announced plans to opt out of a raft of EU police and justice measures, including the European Arrest Warrant.

But Mrs May said that Britain is then likely to apply to opt back into some of the 130 cross-border agreements, those which the government thinks are in the national interest.

Mr Gummer told The Star, it is vital that the European Arrest Warrant are retained.

Christopher Chittock is accused of murdering Sarah Shields, while the couple were on holiday in Gran Canaria in July 2010.

Chittock, who lived in Ravenswood, was arrested and extradited to Spain in September, two months after his arrest.

Mr Gummer said without the European Arrest Warrant the process would have taken a lot longer.

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“I raised the importance of the European Arrest Warrant in returning Chittock to Spain in just over two months,” he said.

“It was really important for Sarah’s family that it was able to happen so quickly. Previously it would have taken a lot longer.

“The government are talking about opting out of the Home and Justice part of the Lisbon Treaty but it is important that we opt back into the European Arrest Warrant.”

Mrs May was unable to identify which of the agreements Britain will seek to re-enter. She said: “The Government’s current thinking is that we will opt out of all pre-Lisbon police and criminal justice matters, and then negotiate with the commission and other member states to opt back into those individual measures that it is in our national interest to rejoin.”