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Judicial Co-operation (UK and Greece)

Volume 516: debated on Tuesday 19 October 2010

3. If he will take steps to improve co-operation between judicial systems in the UK and in Greece. (17813)

Both the UK and Greece are party to a number of European instruments that facilitate co-operation between judicial systems within Europe. In addition, I know that my hon. Friend is taking a particular interest in the separate bilateral issue of improving the provision of locally obtained information regarding deaths of our citizens in Greece to coroners here.

I thank the Minister for his answer. My constituent, Luke Walker, has been imprisoned on the island of Crete for over 150 days, and his defence team have been constantly frustrated by the denial of information that should rightfully be theirs. Can my right hon. Friend update the House on the progress of the working group set up between UK and Greek officials and designed to improve co-operation between the UK coroner service and the Greek authorities?

I understand that Luke Walker has been charged but that a trial date has not been set. It is of course a matter of great regret that delays are occurring in the exchange of information between the Greek authorities and coroners in England and Wales. That can only increase the distress felt by everyone involved in such cases, of which there are a number. We are working with the Foreign Office and the Greek authorities to try to improve the situation so that inquests can be concluded without further delay. The working group to which my hon. Friend refers will be able to have its first meeting to discuss these issues shortly; we are pressing for a date to be set.