|Eurojust’s Andrew Crookes (Right) with Aled Williams current President
Last week I wrote in The Guardian about the cock-up over a request from the Spanish authorities which led to organised crime boss Robert Dawes being freed from custody.
Dawes track record has been catalogued here and in the publication Hoods. He has been on the radar of British law enforcement officials for 13 years. Indeed he has been described recently by officers from Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) as “a highly significant international criminal” who is “wanted for murder in Holland and drug trafficking in the UK”. Their own words not mine.
How did it come to pass that a man in such demand by law enforcement agencies was allowed to go free because an urgent request for assistance from a Spanish judge to SOCA somehow got lost in the post for FIVE months.
SOCA officials have been pointing the finger at Eurojust saying the document must have been “lost in the Eurozone”. The letter rogatory, the formal request made by one country to another, was sent by the Spanish judge on April 19 2011 but did not arrive with SOCA, say its officials, until the end of August 2011. Dawes was released on September 12 because the judge had not received any response from the British.
It appears the letter was sent via Eurojust. A powerful body set up in 2002, based in the Hague. Its remit is to speed up co-operation between EU countries on international organised crime cases. Eurojust has around 500 administrative staff but its power lies in the delegations from each European country of which there is a head and deputy head.
It appears that the document was sent by the judge Jose Santiago Torres Prieto to the deputy head of the Spanish delegation Maria Teresa Galvez Diez and from there it would have been forwarded on to the British authorities via the British delegation. It would have been no more than a a day’s work at Eurojust’s headquarters to send the request to the UK.
Often mistakes happen because officials do not realise the importance of a document or request but when one looks at the CVs of the British delegation at Eurojust one must wonder how things could have gone so catastrophically wrong, if indeed the fault lies with Eurojust.
The UK’s delegation head is also the current president of Eurojust. His name is Aled Williams and to quote his own biography from Eurojust his “legal career started in 1984 when he was admitted as a solicitor and then worked as a prosecutor with responsibility for serious cases of homicide, fraud and drug trafficking. In 2002 he was appointed the United Kingdom liaison magistrate to Spain. He worked in the Ministry of Justice in Madrid for four years, dealing with mutual legal assistance, extradition and the introduction of European Arrest Warrant procedures.
The background of his deputy Andrew Crookes is even more interesting. To quote Eurojust he was “admitted as a Solicitor in 1989, he is a Higher Court Advocate and has 20 years’ prosecution experience. He worked as Trial Unit Head in Nottinghamshire prior to joining the Crown Prosecution Service Headquarters Central Casework Divisions in 2004. He was Head of Special Crime Division, York, and in 2006 was appointed Head of the Organised Crime Division in Birmingham. There he was responsible for a team of lawyers dealing with prosecutions arising from investigations by the Serious and Organised Crime Agency, including money laundering, drug trafficking and human trafficking. Prior to joining Eurojust, he was appointed as a Senior Specialist Lawyer to deal nationally with the most complex, serious and sensitive cases arising from the activities of international organised crime groups.
When one considers Robert Dawes background from Nottinghamshire, his background in organised crime, money laundering and drug trafficking in Spain and other countries his links to at least two brutal murders; it is difficult to believe you could find two lawyers who would fit the bill better than these two members of British delegation or indeed more eminent in their field.
So what went wrong? Eurojust are currently looking into the matter and so we will have to see what explanation they deliver. Lets just hope it won’t take another five months to find out. In the meantime surely it is important to ensure that Robert Dawes is finally put before the courts and face the evidence that exists against him whether that be in Spain, Holland or the UK.