In April 1997, at a specially convened seminar in Spain, the EU Commission unveiled its “Corpus Juris project”, for a single system of criminal law for the whole of Europe, based entirely on Napoleonic-inquisitorial principles. It takes the form of an embryo criminal code. It would sweep away our own Magna Carta based system, and in particular our Trial by Jury and Lay Magistrates (art. 26.1), our Habeas Corpus (art. 20.3.g), our protection against double jeopardy (art. 27.2). I happened to be among 141 European jurists invited to attend, as guests of the Commission. I was included in the Italian delegation, as a last-minute replacement. The head of the Italian delegation had read an article I had published in an Italian law journal and had been impressed enough to invite me to come along and fill an empty slot.
In 1998 Brussels called an interparliamentary conference to look at the Corpus Juris project and to ask the participants, “How ready are the people of your country for a Europe-wide single system of criminal justice?”. The British delegation included Humfrey Malins QC MP, who looked at the Corpus Juris project, was horrified and wrote a letter to the Telegraph about it. The Telegraph, also primed by what I had reported in The European Journal, ran a week of articles every day sounding the alarm about Corpus Juris. The Telegraph had the necessary authority and credibility to galvanise some into action. There were PQs from two MPs, and Kate Hoey, Home Office Minister at the time, read Corpus Juris and was horrified and promised to veto it. Meanwhile the Labour MEP Pauline Green led all the Eurosocialists, including the Brits, to vote to “welcome” Corpus Juris in a resolution in the European Parliament. Blair did not have the stomach to disown Kate Hoey publicly (though later she was moved from Home to Sport), nor to publicly endorse Ms Green. There was then a weighty Report from the House of Lords, which examined Corpus Juris and rejected it (HL 62, 1999).
The EU realised that there would be a huge, flaming row with the UK which would boost the withdrawalist side enormously if they insisted and tried to bulldoze it through by Qualified Majority Voting, as a German and an Italian MEP told the House of Lords’ Committee they had been planning to do. So they put it quietly aside. The story was now that it had never been an EU proposal, but merely an exercise by a bunch of academics, almost as if they were just wishing to while away a rainy afternoon. The EU came to realise how inflammatory it was potentially, and how it would really frighten the monkee (Britain) who would escape their clutches if they put it on the agenda again. So it disappeared from the radar. The BBC and other media decided it was a non-story. The Telegraph did not mention it again. And there it has remained until now – at the back of the fridge.
Instead of a single criminal-law system for all Europe, it was decided at Tampere in 1999 that each nation would keep its own legal system, but to have “mutual recognition” of each other’s legal decisons. Mutual recognition presupposes mutual confidence in the fairness of each other’s systems. The other systems were and are largely unstudied, unresearched and unknown – at least in Britain, so it was decided that since they were all signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights and subject to the European Court of HR, that was OK. The main fruit of this approach has been the European Arrest Warrant. A provision was and is that a EAW should not provide any indication of evidence of a prima facie case, and the country receiving a EAW is not allowed to ask for any evidence, but has to trust the requesting country blindly.
Thus, the EAW, far from being an alternative to Corpus Juris, is actually a stepping stone towards it. By enabling arrest and lengthy “precautionary” imprisonment (months, and longer) without evidence nor any public hearing, it tramples underfoot our Habeas Corpus rights.
The next step towards Corpus Juris is to establish its central pillar – the European Public Prosecutor. This is now underway, though the UK has opted out. But having accepted the EAW, our opt-out from the EPP’s jurisdiction can be circumvented, for he will be able to issue EAWs against Britons in Britain, as confirmed by Jonathan Fisher QC in a formal Counsel’s Opinion, commissioned by the President of the Freedom Association, Christopher Gill.
All this was to be kept in abeyance, as long as the UK had an escape route, ie the ability to head for the exit door if its people and Parliament feel that our freedom is severely and really threatened. It is still, so far, open to Parliament to rescind the ECA72 (even unilaterally and with immediate effect if we feel that Brussels might abuse its residual power over us if we took the route of article 50).
But once Brussels sees that we are locked inside, and no longer have a quick way out, then they will wheel out Corpus Juris once more, and we will get the full nine yards of it.
This will be the case if the Brexit referendum returns a victory for the IN vote. The tragedy at present is that we are heading for the vote with 99% of the electorate in complete and blissful ignorance of this specific, looming, threat to our personal freedom and its safeguards from arbitrary arrest and wrongful imprisonment.
Why is criminal law so important? and why is Brussels so keen on getting control over our criminal law? British people usually think that taxation, monetary policy, business regulation, etc are more important. This is because we think of criminal law as being merely about catching and punishing criminals.
We British have had such a long and unbroken history of peaceful constitutional development, that we have forgotten that, at the end of the day, criminal law is actually the handle granting complete control over a State and all its inhabitants. Criminal law means police, handcuffs and prisons. It means the physically forceful, enforcement powers of the State over the citizens. It is under the criminal law that the State can (or cannot) send its officers into your home, breaking down the door, hauling you out of your bed and off to a prison. The State holds a monopoly of legal, even lethal, force over the citizens, and the exercise of this power is regulated by the criminal law.
In fact, the EU has not only developed the Corpus Juris project. It is also training and drilling its own paramilitary, lethally armed, police force, the European Gendarmerie Force (EGF). Six national gendarmeries are being trained and drilled side by side, in a location in Northern Italy, to weld them into a single European corps. They will then be deployed all over the territory, and once inside Britain – Mrs May said in 2012 “Of course we will call upon them, if we see the need” – they will surely not leave if asked to go by a merely British government, for they will owe allegiance only to Brussels.
The Corpus Juris plan envisages not only a European Public Prosecutor stationed in Brussels, but also that he shall have a Delegated Prosecutor in each member state (art. 18.3). And the national prosecutors will be “under a duty to assist him” (art. 18,5). And if there are riots and resistance to the imposition of these alien laws, the EGF will be available to suppress them. It will also be available to do the bidding of the European Prosecutor, should the local enforcement agencies prove recalcitrant. It will look like, feel like, and be like… a military occupation by a hostile armed foreign force.
The above scenario looks and sounds quite incredible to any British person. Unlike our continental friends, we have not seen anything like it, on our own shores, for hundreds of years. Yet it could so easily turn true. The documentary evidence of this plan is all there.