New Judgment: VB v Westminster Magistrates’ Court  UKSC 59 & Other cases
05 Wednesday Nov 2014
On appeal from:  EWHC 889 (Admin)
By a majority, the Court held that a District Judge in extradition proceedings did not have the power to admit the evidence in a closed material hearing (without disclosing it to the State requesting extradition); the judge also had no power to order disclosure to the CPS on the condition that further disclosure to the Rwandan Government was prohibited; lastly, the judge had no power make a witness anonymity order under the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, s 87.
The Extradition Act 2003, s 77(1) provides that in extradition hearings the judge “has the same powers (as nearly as may be) as a magistrates’ court would have if the proceedings were the summary trial of an information against the person whose extradition is requested”. That includes matters of evidence and procedure. Although the parties were agreed that the normal rules of evidence should be relaxed in extradition hearings raising issues of human rights , the power of the court to order a closed material hearing remained limited to the exceptional circumstances recognised by authority.