28 July 2014 Lord Alton of Liverpool To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether representatives from the British Embassy in Bangkok will attend court hearings and other key meetings in the case of British citizen Andy Hall; and, if not, why not.
The Senior Minister of State, Department for Communities and Local Government & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Warsi) (Con): Consular officials at our Embassies do not normally attend court hearings. They do so in exceptional circumstances, for instance at key points in murder/manslaughter cases to support families, and on a case-by-case basis in cases where the death penalty could be imposed, or we have serious fair trial concerns. When officials do attend their role is to provide welfare support. We cannot interfere in the judicial process of another country and we cannot act as legal representatives for British nationals. Our staff are not legally trained and they therefore cannot comment on proceedings or provide interpretation.
A political officer from our Embassy in Thailand attended Mr Hall’s hearing on 2 July to observe proceedings. Mr Hall has also met officials at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London to discuss forced labour concerns in Thailand. Consular officials will continue to support him as appropriate, and a decision on whether we will attend future hearings or other key meetings will be made when required. The Embassy has no role in accompanying Mr Hall to meetings related to his legal dispute.