, Another one bites the dust 3: leadingcounsel.co.uk
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Another one bites the dust 3

The case of Mr Mann begins during Euro 2004. Obviously his account of what occurred differs from that of the Portuguese authorities. I shall not adopt a nationalistic or chauvinistic view that what is said by Mr Mann must be right and what is said by the Portuguese authorities must be wrong. However some aspects of what is said to have occurred are substantiated by others as will be indicated herein. I approach this on the basis that I am not treating it as axiomatically obvious that Mr Mann is innocent, but that on any view there ought to be sufficient cause for doubt about his guilt or his fair treatment so as to make it unjust to extradite him.

At the time Mr Mann was a fireman, in his mid-40s. He had been in trouble once, for a minor offence which had occurred the best part of 30 years before. For all practical purposes therefore he was a man of good character, and hardly an obvious instance of someone whose conduct would lead anyone to suppose that he had gone to Portugal to cause trouble. I accept that does not mean he could not have been involved in trouble, but it is nonetheless a factor.

A riot took place. Mr Mann says he was drinking in a bar with a number of friends. They all support this story. The suggestion is that the police were almost randomly grabbing football fans and saying they had been part of the riot. Mr Mann said he was arrested was something that was nothing to do with him. He went to trial. For a description of the events at trial, I can do no better than site the first paragraph of the judgement of Lord Justice Moses when refusing Mr Mann's application to try and prevent execution of the warrant. " On 16 June 2004 Gary Mann was convicted by the Albufeira Judicial Court, Portugal, of one offence of participation in a riot pursuant to Article 302 of the Portuguese Criminal Code. He was sentenced on the same day to 2 years' imprisonment. DC Rutter, an officer of the Humberside Police of 29 years and 6 months' standing, who attended the trial to advise Portuguese police officers in relation to English supporters attending the Euro 2004 Football Tournament, describes the trial as "a farce". He says that there was no adequate and proper interpretation and that Mr Mann did not understand most of the proceedings. On 18 June 2004 Mr Mann was permitted to leave Portugal pursuant to an Order for Voluntary Departure. ". A police officer attending to assist to spot hooligans, and who of necessity was not a friend or associate of Mr Mann, one would have thought could be regarded as a reasonably reliable source for a fair account of what the proceedings were like. If he says they were a farce, it is highly likely that they were, and at the very least there must be a grave concern that the proceedings were unjust. Portuguese law apparently required proceedings to be concluded within 48 hours, and he was tried the day after the alleged offence, the final sentence and conviction occurring at 11:30 PM.

As will have been seen from that account, Mr Mann agreed to be voluntarily deported. The reason for that was, he says, that he was told that if he agreed to be voluntarily deported and not return to Portugal for a year, that he would not have to serve his sentence. It is notable that of course if they had insisted on his sentence being carried out then one would have expected him to have been imprisoned or kept pending proceedings being finalised. It therefore seems highly likely that some such indication was given.

One of Mr Mann's complaints was that he ended up having a matter of a few minutes with a lawyer. What is clear is that the lawyer failed to file the appeal documents within time so as to allow the conviction to be challenged in Portugal. Even though he was deported rather than having to undertake a prison sentence, the consequences were still serious. Because of a football related conviction, he lost his job as a fireman. Nor was that the end of the matter, he then faced a football banning order in England.

What happened then is cogently summarised in the judgement of Lord Justice Moses as follows: " Following his conviction and sentence at 11.30 p.m. on 16 June 2004 (Portuguese law required proceedings to be finished within 48 hours) and his departure from Portugal 2 days later, Mr Mann, then a serving fireman, although we now understand, as a result of the conviction, cast from the force, heard no more until a Football Banning Order was sought by the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police before District Judge Day at a hearing between 18 July and 3 August 2005. District Judge Day refused the Football Banning Orders on the basis that the Albufeira Tribunal's convictions were "obtained in circumstances that are so unfair as to be incompatible with the respondent's (Mr Mann's) right to a fair trial under Article 6". He accepted the evidence that the quality of interpretation fell "well short of the proper standards" and that the defendants had inadequate time to instruct lawyers so as to conduct their defence appropriately. In reaching that conclusion he studied a transcript of the trial and heard evidence from DC Rutter.".

Thus whatever else may be the position in this case, we know that a court here has already determined that Mr Mann did not receive a fair trial in Portugal. One might have thought that that would be the end of the matter. Far from it. The next twist was the issue of European arrest warrant. We shall look next week at the effect of that.

Michael J. Booth QC