The foetid waters surrounding the European Arrest Warrant for ‘First Degree Murder’ issued in respect of Graham Mitchell grow murkier by the minute.
Late last night I received an e-mail from a prominent Portuguese journalist asking for my help to contact Graham Mitchell, it contained some potentially very interesting information. I picked up the phone to Graham straight away, and to my surprise, the self-same e-mail had just popped into his inbox. That might seem difficult – for there are two Graham Mitchell’s in his home town, and there are also two Graham Mitchell’s who are prominent photographers. Even so, her e-mail had neatly proved that there was absolutely no difficulty for anyone in Portugal to get in touch with the right Graham Mitchell in minutes, yes? He’s not hard to find.
We had been puzzled yesterday by a slightly misleading item on the BBC News page which stated as ‘fact’ some information they had come by via a freelance journalist in Portugal.
Photographer Graham Mitchell, 49, from Kent, faces a retrial following his arrest on a European Arrest Warrant.
Portugal’s Supreme Court quashed his acquittal in 1996.
It didn’t say ‘we believe’, or even ‘we have been told’, although it did go on to say they had been speaking to ‘an official’ in ‘Portugal’s Supreme Judicial Council’. This was news to Graham and to his legal team, who had been unable to find anyone to speak to them officially and tell them why they wanted Graham back in Portugal. Officially, Graham and his lawyers are still in the dark; unofficially, they have now been told via the media that his acquittal was ‘quashed’ and he had been a ‘fugitive’ from a proposed ‘retrial’ since 1996.
Assuming that information is true. It hasn’t come through any recognised legal channels though I have no reason to doubt the veracity of that particular BBC reporters word.
I have also discovered that in the past week, Mr Jorling’s lawyer has been busy supplying the media with up to date photographs of his client – so he apparently had been informed of what was going on.
This is the story which is proposed to be run in the Portuguese press next week.
It would, if true, explain why we had not been able to find any evidence of an appeal. There hasn’t been an appeal. A quashed conviction is a different animal. We still don’t know whether this speculated ‘retrial’ has been held, with Graham in absentia, or whether it is proposed to be held at some time in the future. The mysterious ‘official’ at Portugal’s Supreme Judicial Council apparently hadn’t thought to inform the press of that minor detail. As of an hour ago, Graham’s legal team were still waiting for any information.
Now my Portuguese journalistic contact is keen to enlist my help in tracing Mr Warren Tozer – she had better keep watching this blog, because if I find Mr Tozer, you will read about it here first, I promise you. Not in a Portuguese newspaper, nor on the BBC site. But the fact that she is searching for Mr Tozer is interesting, for it suggests that the Portuguese Police, who had taken 17 years to find a 6′ Scots Guardsman who had very publicly been in the same place all along – to wit, her e-mail – had also failed to find Mr Tozer. Certainly she seems to be of the opinion that no EAW has been issued for him. Which is hardly surprising, since all the information we have is that he left Europe many years ago, and indeed one line of enquiry that I am following up is that he may no longer be alive – and thus no longer be available as the only other witness for Mr Mitchell’s defence.
Where does that leave us? It seems that thanks to the curious belief of the European Commission that all legal systems in Europe are fair and equal, and thus in the words of Nick Clegg, the European Arrest Warrant is ‘essential’, we have a Briton who has been cleared of an offence in Portugal due to lack of identification as to even having been at the scene, told he is free to leave the country, who is expected to stand trial near 20 years later on a serious offence, without the benefit of having events fresh in his mind, and without his co-accused who is also his principal witness.
At least, that is the theory now exercising Graham’s fevered mind – or it may all be codswallop and the press may be fed another version by this time next week.
Why are the media being fed information which is being withheld from the accused? Is this the Portuguese idea of a fair trial?
If the Portuguese authorities wish to communicate with the legal team of Mr Graham Mitchell, they will find them where they have always been: http://www.fairtrials.net/
It is about time one of our parliamentarians sat up and took notice of what is going on here.
A BBC interview with Graham can be found here.