EU court: UK expatriates cannot challenge Brexit talks

Britain's opposition Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn responding to a statement by Prime Minister Theresa May to the House of Commons in London on November 26, 2018, to update parliament on the newly-agreed Brexit deal. (AFP)
Updated 27 November 2018
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EU court: UK expatriates cannot challenge Brexit talks

BRUSSELS: EU judges have dismissed a case brought by a Second World War veteran and other Britons living on the continent against the Brexit negotiation, ruling on Monday that their rights as EU citizens had not yet been infringed.

Harry Shindler, a 97-year-old living in Italy, was among 13 expatriates who complained to the EU’s General Court that Brexit would deprive them of EU citizenship, and that the decision last year by the bloc’s council of member states to accept notification of Britain’s withdrawal next March breached their rights because they had been denied a vote in the 2016 referendum.

On Monday, the court dismissed the action as inadmissible because the council’s move to start talks with London did not in itself carry any definite consequences for their rights.

“The decision of the council authorizing the opening of negotiations on Brexit does not produce binding legal effects capable of affecting the interests of the applicants by bringing about a distinct change in their legal position,” it said.

Julien Fouchet, a French lawyer acting for the plaintiffs, said they would appeal to the Court of Justice, the EU’s top court. “Unacceptable,” he tweeted. “The fight goes on.”

 

Referendum

Shindler had taken a demand that all expatriates be given a vote in the referendum to London’s High Court. 

Judges there ruled two months before the vote that this would be too difficult for the authorities. Campaigners say millions of British citizens fall foul of a law depriving them of a vote after 15 years abroad.

Under Article 50 of the EU treaty, Prime Minister Theresa May notified the European Council on March 29, 2017, that Britain would leave the bloc, setting in motion a two-year countdown that will see Britain leave in four months’ time.

On Sunday, May and the other 27 EU leaders formally agreed a treaty setting terms for departure and outlining a close future trading relationship, but the British Parliament may yet reject that deal. Britain could then leave without clear legal terms.

On Tuesday, the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg will hear a case brought by Scottish politicians who oppose Brexit and want judges to rule on whether the Article 50 notification process can be simply revoked by the British government, whether or not other EU states agree.

They hope that can strengthen a campaign to have Brexit halted altogether, although May insists it will go ahead.


Man accused of killing tourist appears in New Zealand court

A police officer investigating the murder of British tourist Grace Millane stands at a crime scene along a section of Scenic Drive in the Waitakere Ranges outside Auckland, New Zealand, Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. (AP)
Updated 10 min 59 sec ago
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Man accused of killing tourist appears in New Zealand court

  • Before she vanished, Millane had been staying at a backpacker hostel in Auckland and left some of her belongings there

WELLINGTON, New Zealand: A man accused of killing 22-year-old British tourist Grace Millane made his first appearance in a New Zealand court Monday.
The 26-year-old man stared at the ground while a judge addressed him during the brief appearance at the Auckland District Court. The man has not yet entered a plea on murder charges and the court has temporarily blocked his name from being published.
Millane’s father, David Millane, traveled to New Zealand last week after his daughter vanished, and Judge Evangelos Thomas addressed him and other family members.
“I don’t know what to say to you at this time, but your grief must be desperate,” he said, according to television station Three. “We all hope justice will be fair and swift and ultimately bring you some peace.”
The case has riveted people both in Britain and New Zealand.
Described by her father as fun-loving and family-oriented, Millane had been traveling in New Zealand as part of a planned yearlong trip abroad that began in Peru. She went missing Dec. 1 and failed to get in touch with her family on her birthday the next day, or on the days that followed, which alarmed them.
Before she vanished, Millane had been staying at a backpacker hostel in Auckland and left some of her belongings there. Detective Inspector Scott Beard said she met a man for a couple of hours in the evening before surveillance cameras showed them entering the CityLife hotel at about 9:40 p.m.
A week after Millane disappeared, police detained a man for questioning and later charged him with murder.
On Sunday, police found a body they believe is that of Millane in a forested area about 10 meters (33 feet) from the side of the road in the Waitakere Ranges near Auckland. Police believe Millane’s body was taken to the area in a rental car that was later left in the town of Taupo.
The suspect’s lawyer, Ian Brookie, applied on Monday for name suppression on the basis his client needed it for a fair trial, an argument that Judge Thomas rejected on the basis of open justice. Brookie appealed, triggering the man’s name to be temporarily suppressed.
The man is scheduled to make his next court appearance Jan. 23.