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Ukip man loses arrest warrant bid

Former UK Independence Party treasurer Stuart Wheeler has lost a High Court battle over Britain's opt-in to the European arrest warrant (EAW) scheme.

Three senior judges rejected his legal bid to block moves to rejoin the scheme, which facilitates cross-border extradition within the European Union (EU).

The courtroom clash follows a dramatic Commons vote on Monday, when the Government won its highly controversial bid to sign up again to 35 EU justice measures - including the EAW.

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Mr Wheeler said later that he was not going to appeal, adding: "Regrettably I am accepting defeat."

His QC, Richard Gordon, had argued at London's High Court that any move by Prime Minister David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May to notify the EU authorities of the UK's wish to accept the EAW Framework Decision would amount to "an unlawful act".

Mr Gordon said the Government would be exceeding its powers under the 2011 European Union Act if it made the notification without first holding a referendum.

He also contended the move would "breach a legitimate expectation" that there would be a parliamentary vote specifically on the warrant before an opt-in.

But three senior judges - Sir Brian Leveson, president of the Queen's Bench Division, sitting with Mr Justice Jay and Mr Justice Lewis - unanimously ruled Mr Wheeler's application for judicial was "unarguable" on all grounds.

Sir Brian said it would involve the courts "improperly straying from the legal into the political realm".

The judges ordered Mr Wheeler to pay the Government's legal costs after his defeat.

He said he was unable to comment on how big the bill might be. Before the hearing he had indicated he was prepared to spend up to £150,000 of his own money.

He said outside court: "The 2011 Act was designed to - or ought to - make sure there would not be a transfer of any powers to the EU with regard to the EAW.

"What has actually happened is a proposal for a substantial transfer of powers to the EU.

"In particular - contrary to what has happened over the last 799 years since Magna Carta - people can now be arrested in this country without any evidence of them having committed any crime and transported off to a foreign nation where they may have to wait a year in appalling conditions to face trial in a court which may not operate in any way like ours do.

"There has been this very fantastic transfer of power. Plainly the Government has failed to protect us."

Announcing that he would not appeal, Mr Wheeler said: "In view of the whole way the proceedings have gone today and the judgment, it is my view we would not succeed on appeal."

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