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School of Law

Opting out of European Arrest Warrant will make Britain less safe, says Professor Valsamis Mitsilegas

Britain risks becoming a safe haven for fugitives if it opts out of the European Arrest Warrant, according to Valsamis Mitsilegas, Head of Department of Law and Professor of European Criminal Law at Queen Mary University of London.


Professor Mitsilegas is co-signatory to a letter, published in this morning’s Daily Telegraph, which calls for MPs to opt in to the European Arrest Warrant. Parliament is expected to face a vote on the issue next week. 

According to the signatories, “A vote to opt in will be a vote for security and for fair and effective criminal justice.”

“At home, recent statutory changes should help prevent extradition to long pre-trial detention overseas, and curb EAW use for trivial offences. Overseas, Britain can only lead reform of Europe’s criminal justice co-operation by being part of the system.”

The letter continues:

“There is no credible alternative to the EAW. Other EU members will be reluctant to adopt new laws if we reject a system that works. Resort to international law on extradition would be slow and ineffective.”

Professor Mitsilegas is one of the UK’s foremost experts on European Criminal Law. From 2001 to 2005 he was legal adviser to the House of Lords European Union Committee, and he is a regular advisor to the UK Government and the Judiciary of England and Wales.

“Opting is essential if the UK is to remain a full and effective member of the European criminal justice area,” says Professor Mitsilegas.

“The interests of the United Kingdom are best served by our participation in the European Arrest Warrant. Far from strengthening our hand; opting out would greatly weaken the tools at our disposal to tackle criminality. Other EU nations may not be able to quickly extradite suspects, and we risk gaining a reputation as the ‘wild west’ of the European justice system.”

Signatories to the letter include Sir Henry Brooke, a former Lord Justice of Appeal, Andrew Caplen, the Law Society President, Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, former President of the Supreme Court Sir David Edward, a former European Court of Justice Judge and Lord Blair, the former Metropolitan Police Commissioner.

Professor Valsamis Mitsilegas

Valsamis Mitsilegas is Head of the Department of Law, Professor of European Criminal Law and Director of the Criminal Justice Centre at Queen Mary University of London. From 2001 to 2005 he was legal adviser to the House of Lords European Union Committee.

His interests and expertise lie in the areas of EU law (with particular focus on the evolution of the Union into an Area of Freedom, Security and Justice), global security governance and human rights.

He has published widely in the fields of European criminal law, immigration and asylum and security and counter-terrorism law. He is also an expert in the field of legal responses to transnational organised crime, corruption and money laundering. His work explores the impact of globalisation and Europeanisation on the relationship between the individual and the state.

Law at Queen Mary University of London 

The School of Law has as its central focus the role of law and its institutions in contemporary international society and it is divided into two organisational units: the Department of Law and the Centre for Commercial Law Studies.

The School of Law at Queen Mary University of London has been ranked 3rd in the UK and 1st in London in the Guardian University Guide 2015 subject league tables.

For media information, contact: 

Mark Byrne 
Public Relations Manager 
Queen Mary University of London 



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