Leeds backpacker murder case intelligence 'shared unlawfully with Thai police'

National Crime Agency admits breaking government rules in David Miller case

National Crime Agency admits breaking government rules in David Miller case

The National Crime Agency has admitted it acted unlawfully in handing over information to Thai police which helped send two men to death row for murdering British backpackers Hannah Witheridge and David Miller.

The agency supplied phone records to investigators in Thailand following the September 2014 murders of Essex University student Miss Witheridge, 23, and Mr Miller, 24, on the island of Koh Tao.

The Guardian newspaper has reported that on Tuesday the high court in London found against the NCA in a case brought by lawyers for Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo.

Lin and Phyo, who face execution by lethal injection, both claim they were tortured.

Reprieve said the trial was "marred by widespread allegations of corruption".

Maya Foa, the director of Reprieve, said: "It is bad enough that the NCA secretly handed over evidence to help secure death sentences in a country known for unfair trials and torture".

The NCA said it misinterpreted the 2014 Overseas Security and Justice Assistance Guidance, and failed to consult with government departmental ministers in a case where ministerial authorisation would be required for any assistance which "might directly or significantly contribute to the use of the death penalty". "Government agencies shouldn't have to be dragged through the courts for the public to know what is being done with their money".

In the United Kingdom legal proceedings, it came to light that the NCA had also secretly shared other data with the prosecution - data which pointed to other suspects and would have supported the defence case, but which was never disclosed to the defence team.

An NCA spokesman said: "The NCA's assistance to the Thai authorities was provided in good faith in the context of a fast-moving investigation into the murders of two British citizens, in the shared interest of apprehending those responsible".

This one-sided provision of assistance in a death penalty case goes against the policy set out in the Overseas Security and Justice Assistance Guidance which requires government agencies to seek approval at the highest ministerial level in cases where assistance given to another country could result in human rights abuses or a death sentence.

"In light of this the NCA has carried out a full review of our internal processes regarding OSJA guidance, to inform future decisions and ensure compliance".

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