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No death penalty assurance was lawful

18/01/19

The Lord Chief Justice and Garnham J today held that the Home Secretary had acted lawfully in failing to require a death penalty assurance from the United States.

This case concerns the provision of evidence from the UK to the USA. The evidence relates to the so-called “Beatles” terrorists and is provided for the purpose of a federal criminal investigation or prosecution. The Home Secretary did not, when agreeing to provide that evidence, require an assurance from the US that the death penalty would not be sought.

This was challenged by the mother of Shafee El Sheikh. The Divisional Court dismissed each of her grounds of challenge. In particular, it held that the principle of legality does not apply to prerogative powers, and that the common law has not developed beyond the ECHR and customary international law to render facilitation of the death penalty unlawful.

The judgment is here.

Victoria Wakefield appeared for the Home Secretary.