Magistrate chides British HC over request

While rejecting a request made through the police by the British High Commission in Colombo to get a Briton’s passport released from court custody, the Colombo Fort Magistrate yesterday observed that he does not hear cases according to the wants of the British High Commission.

The Britisher in question had been charged with the non-payment of a hotel bill.   

 Magistrate Thilina Gamage observed that Courts functioned in accordance with rules and regulations and maintained that it was not for the British High Commission, but the owner of the passport to come to Court and make a request for its release.

Grand Oriental Hotel (GOH) Manager had in a complaint to the Fort police alleged that the Birtisher Allen John had defaulted on a payment of Rs.17,202 after using the hotel’s facilities. He had stayed in the hotel on April 4, 2013 and had reportedly left on the following day without paying the bill. However, the suspect had failed to carry his travel documents including the passport with him.

Subsequently, the hotel management had lodged a complaint with police after handing over the suspect’s passport to the police. Police who conducted investigations had informed the British High Commission. It was revealed that the British High Commission had paid the hotel bill owed by the Britisher. Subsequently, the complainant had informed police that they were willing to settle the matter since the bill had been already settled by the High Commission.

Filing a motion before Magistrate Thilina Gamage, the Fort police yesterday informed Court that the British High Commission had sent them a letter requesting to get the suspect’s passport released since he was to be sent back. In this instance, the Magistrate rejected the British High Commission’s move to have the passport released without following the proper legal procedure. (Lakmal Sooriyagoda)

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