On 12 October 2016 the High Court overturned an extradition order where the requesting state had taken no steps to locate the accused individual for 12 years, during which time he had built up a successful business and a strong family life in the UK.
Polish police interviewed the appellant, Mr Szeslest, in 2001 in relation to offences of forgery and fraud. By 2003, when the Polish authorities decided to prosecute him for the offences and issued an internal warrant, he had moved to the UK. In the following years he had built a successful business in the UK, employing nine people as well as his wife. He and his wife had two young children, and a 10-year-old daughter of hers who was also part of the family. The appellant had travelled within Europe, including to Poland, since 2003. In 2013 he obtained a new Polish passport.
The Polish authorities claimed that they did not discover that he was in the UK until 2015, at which point they issued a European Arrest Warrant. The district judge had found that the delay was not culpable, and that the authorities had taken all reasonable steps to arrest the appellant given that they had only discovered his whereabouts in 2015.
In overturning the lower court's decision the High Court held that it was surprising that the requesting state had not notified its embassies in other countries that the appellant was wanted. When he had applied for a new passport, it would have been expected that the authorities would be informed by the embassy that he was in the UK, but that had not occurred. There was no evidence that the requesting state had done anything between 2003 and 2015. Doing nothing for 12 years was not reasonable.
The appellant had built up a strong family life in the UK. His business would be highly likely to fold if he was extradited and his wife's job and his employees' jobs would disappear. His family would be left without means and his children would be deprived of their father for an unknown period.
In all the circumstances, the court was satisfied that the judge had not correctly approached the appellant's arguments under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. It was not clear whether the appellant would have difficulties in raising a defence to the charges in Poland, and whether such difficulties would be sufficient to be regarded as unjust under s.14 of the Extradition Act 2003. However, there was no doubt that extradition would be oppressive by virtue of the passage of time.
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