Meridor cancels Bicom appearance over arrest fears

By Marcus Dysch, November 1, 2010
Dan Meridor

Dan Meridor

EXCLUSIVE: Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor has cancelled an appearance at a London fundraising dinner over fears he could be arrested under universal jurisdiction legislation.

It is believed the Israeli Justice Ministry warned Mr Meridor that a warrant for his arrest may be issued if he entered Britain.

He was due to speak at the Bicom dinner tonight. He was a replacement for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who cancelled last week due to the delicate state of the peace negotiations.

Mr Meridor's office refused to comment, but sources in the Prime Minister's office confirmed that he had cancelled his visit at the last moment.

Arguments over alterations to the universal jurisdiction legislation have continued since the government came to power in May.

Justice Minister Ken Clarke announced in July that the coalition would table a legislative amendment which would ensure the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) would need to give consent for an arrest warrant to be issued in response to a private prosecution for war crimes.

The government has repeatedly said it would act as soon as parliamentary time allows to implement the changes, but predicted it may take until the end of November or December.

Bicom chief executive Lorna Fitzsimons said: “Israeli law officers did not think they should take the risk [of allowing him to come].

"Foreign Secretary William Hague intervened and the British government tried to make it work. They are committed to changing the law and it cannot come soon enough.”

Last updated: 12:09pm, November 2 2010