Consent refused for Tzipi Livni UK arrest warrant

Tzipi Livni with William Hague (Photo: John Rifkin)

Tzipi Livni with William Hague (Photo: John Rifkin)

Foreign Secretary William Hague has stepped in to ensure Israeli Opposition leader Tzipi Livni will not be arrested during her visit to Britain.

An arrest application was made to the Crown Prosecution Service on Tuesday to have Ms Livni detained when she arrived in London. She is currently on a two-day visit during which she is meeting community leaders and politicians.

Pro-Palestinian lawyers made the request to Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, having previously sought to have Ms Livni arrested in Britain for alleged war crimes during Operation Cast Lead.

But Mr Hague served the CPS with a certificate on Thursday morning, giving the Foreign Office's consent to Ms Livni's visit and deeming it a "special mission".

The pair met to discuss relations between Britain and Israel and spoke about the current situation in the Middle East and the importance of building support for a two state solution.

Ms Livni's visit is the first test of the new law governing arrest warrants for alleged war crimes and follows nearly two years of argument over the issue of universal jurisdiction.

The High Court has previously ruled that a "special mission" can be applied to a visit by a dignitary which includes functions which would ordinarily be taken care of by a permanent diplomatic mission.

The ruling affords the person immunity from legal action during the duration of their trip, and states that no court can question the clarification of the mission as "special" once designated by the Foreign Office.

A Magistrates' Court would therefore be bound to refuse any application for Ms Livni's arrest.

In a statement, the CPS said: "The DPP has refused to give his consent to the private prosecutor to make an application to the court for an arrest warrant. In considering this application, he has consulted the Attorney General, but the decision is his."

Last updated: 10:59pm, October 6 2011