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By now (2011), Assange was living in relatively comfortable house arrest in Ellingham Hall. He was to be living there for 550 days, wearing an electronic tag and reporting daily to the police. The delay in implementing the Swedish extradition request came down to a technicality. The European Arrest Warrant had been issued by Marianne Ny, a prosecutor. Assange's lawyers argued that the 2003 British Extradition Act, implementing the EU legislation concerning the Arrest Warrant, required that the warrant be issued by a 'judicial authority' and that in the House of Commons debates on the act it was emphasised that this meant a court or a judge, not the police or a public prosecutor. It was when the case finally reached the Supreme Court which ruled (for reasons Melzer finds bizarre) in favour of a broad definition of the term, that Assange knew the game was up, skipped bail and, on 19th June 2012, entered the Ecuadorian Embassy, asking for asylum (President Correa had previously indicated that such a request would be looked on favourably).

But before that happened an interesting correspondence was struck up between the British Crown Prosecution Service and Marianne Ny.

In January 2011, while Assange was still in house arrest in Ellingham Hall, Marianne Ny seems to have shown signs of weakening: 'it almost seemed as if Prosecutor Ny had changed her mind and was now seriously entertaining the idea of interviewing Assange in London.' But she was advised against it by the Crown Prosecution Service. The CPS was charged with representing the interests of the Swedish prosecution service and on 25th January 2011 the officer responsible, Paul Close, wrote: 'My earlier advice remains, that in my view it would not be prudent for the Swedish authorities to try to interview the defendant in the UK.' Close gives reasons which I thought rather obscure, why such a course would give possible arguments to Assange's defence, but in the course of explaining them Melzer refers to 'the Swedish practice of detaining rape suspects without bail', which would seem to be highly relevant (Melzer pp.174-5).

In his book Rather his own man, Geoffrey Robertson QC, who acted for Assange in the period immediately following the European Arrest Warrant, complains that his lawyers had failed to use what he regarded as the strongest case for resisting extradition - that under Swedish law 'his trial would be held in total secrecy, and even the judgment would omit the crucial factual details. There would be no jury, just a judge sitting with three "lay judges" who would vote on the verdict, people not selected at random or from a professional magistracy, but nominated by the main political parties, for which reason they were often retired politicians. All leaders of those parties had by now condemned Assange ...' (12)

(12) Geoffrey Robertson: Rather his own man, p.353.

It is, then, fairly obvious why there would be advantages in conducting the 'preliminary investigation' in Sweden.

Melzer goes on to say (p.80) that once the Supreme Court had made its final decision on 14th June, Ny requested his immediate surrender, 'thus effectively withdrawing the suspensive effect of a possible appeal by Assange to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.' But the Supreme Court refused Ny's request, giving Assange 'a final reprieve of fourteen days.' He doesn't explain why, then, Assange didn't use this time to appeal to the European Court. Neither can I explain it but when, five days later on the 19th June, Assange sought asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy, he explained, in an interview with ABC News, that 'we had the surprise news that the Crown Prosecution Service here suddenly objected to the fourteen days we were meant to have to file an EU appeal, and were asking for zero.' (13)

(13) Gary Lord: Wikileaks, chapter fourteen,

There was more to come. Ecuador made the formal decision to grant Assange asylum on the 16th August and soon afterwards in an interview Assange said he thought the most likely outcome was that Sweden would drop the case. Ny then got the famous email from the CPS which read 'Don't you dare get cold feet!' Raising the question why should the CPS care if she got cold feet? Did they feel so strongly about the question whether or not Julian Assange was wearing a condom on two nights in August 2010 (that was the point at issue) that they were willing to continue paying - or requiring London to pay - 'over £15,000 a day for round the clock police surveillance of the Ecuadorian embassy'? Boris Johnson, then Mayor of London, complained that it was 'absolutely ridiculous; that money should be spent on frontline policing ... it's completely wasted.' Baronness Jenny Jones, Deputy Chair of the Police and Crime Committee at the London Assembly, said: 'It's absolute madness ... either somebody else has to pay - that is, the Swedish authorities - or we just have to back off and stop guarding the embassy. It is ludicrous.' (14)

(14) Quotes from the account in Russia Today, 6th August, 2014.

Even the Swedish authorities seem to have had doubts on the matter. In October 2013, Ny wrote to the CPS, saying:

'There is a demand in Swedish law for coercive measures to be proportionate. The time passing, the costs and how severe the crime is to be taken into account, together with the intrusion or detriment to the suspect.'

In December, she elaborated on the 'costs' in question:

'It has been argued in Sweden that the English police regards the costs getting unreasonably high. I understand from your answer that the costs on your side is not an issue that we should take into consideration at this stage?'

She was assured in the reply: 'Just to confirm that I do not consider costs are a relevant factor in this matter ... I am not aware of any adverse comment or concern being expressed by any government departments.' (Account in Melzer, pp.186-7)

Keir Starmer was Head of the Crown Prosecution Service and Director of Public Prosecutions from July 2008 to November 2013 so in the period covered by these emails, except the ones exchanged in December, which were apparently just confirming advice already given. Whether or not the crimes for which Jimmy Savile was accused were sufficiently important to attract his attention, it seems very improbable that he wouldn't have had a say in the Assange case with its obviously important international and political ramifications. The lawyer who actually signed the emails, Paul Close, retired in 2014 and his emails were deleted 'in accordance with standard procedure.' (15) They were recovered by the Italian Journalist Stefania Maurizi, after a long and determined pursuit of Freedom of Information requests, from the Swedish side of the correspondence.

(15) Ewen MacAskill and Owen Boycott: 'UK prosecutors admit destroying key emails in Julian Assange case', The Guardian, 10th November, 2017.