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Magistrate reprimands British High Commission

2013 Jul 11

By Lakmal Sooriyagoda
While rejecting a request made through the police by the British High Commission in Colombo for the release from Court custody of the passport of a British national who had been charged for defaulting a hotel bill; the Colombo Fort Magistrate yesterday stated that he does not hear cases according to the wants of the British High Commission.
Magistrate Thilina Gamage observed that Courts function in accordance with rules and regulations and maintained that it should be the owner of the passport and not the British High Commission that should appear in Court to make a request for its release.
A manager of a Grand Oriental Hotel in Colombo had made a complaint with the Fort police alleging that British national Allen John had defaulted a hotel bill valued at Rs. 17,202 after using its facilities. The Britisher was accommodated at the hotel on 4 April, 2013 after which he had reportedly vacated his lodgings the following day without paying the bill. However, the suspect had failed to collect his travel documents, including the passport.
Subsequently, the hotel management had lodged a complaint with the police and handed over the suspect’s passport to the police which was subsequently held in Court custody. The Fort police, who conducted investigations into the incident, had then informed the British High Commission of the matter. It was also revealed that the British High Commission had paid the hotel bill which was owed by the British national. The complainant party had hence informed police of their willingness to settle the matter since the bill in question 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 the release of the passport belonging to the suspect since he is scheduled to be sent back. In this instance, the Magistrate criticised the British High Commission’s move to get release the passport without following proper legal procedures.

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