Extradition plain wrong: district judge lost sight of balance and proportionality

The High Court has allowed the appeal of a Polish man, represented by Malcolm Hawkes, who was wanted to serve an 18-month prison sentence for an offence of fraud. Convicted in 2006, the Appellant received a suspended sentence, which was activated because he failed to pay compensation to the victim and did not comply with probation supervision.

The offence amounted to failing to supply a mobile phone to an online purchaser who lost the equivalent of £75. The Appellant was permitted to move to the UK in 2008 and lived an open, verifiable and law-abiding life ever since. As a security guard, he had repeatedly been cleared by the Disclosure and Barring Service in order to obtain his security licence.

There was also firm evidence that another Polish court had been corresponding with the Appellant at his UK home address on a separate matter in 2010. Yet the Polish authorities claimed that he was living in the UK in hiding and tried to claim that as the reason for many years of delay before issuing a European Arrest Warrant.

In his judgment, Holman J held that the district judge failed to consider the age of the conduct as a factor against extradition and had referred to the offence as ‘not the most serious’ which overstated the gravity of it; the victim had since been compensated. The judge had erred in finding the Appellant’s partner was well enough to work, whereas she is on long-term sick leave. The judge overlooked the fact the Appellant’s extradition would have severe consequences for his 12-year-old son who faced the prospect of becoming his mother’s carer or indeed being placed in care himself.

The High Court concluded that it was not justifiable to extradite someone for such a low-level offence, committed so long ago; the district judge had lost sight of balance and proportionality and his decision to extradite the Appellant was plainly wrong.

In Traczyk v Poland, Malcolm was instructed by Sarah Phillips of MW Solicitors.