ST Helens Magistrates’ Court was called to hear evidence in a long-running criminal investigation by Hong Kong police.
In one of the most unusual hearing in the town’s legal history, the court heard the testimony of a witness to proceedings in Hong Kong.
The individual, who cannot be named for legal reasons, gave a sworn deposition to the court under powers usually reserved for probes into terrorist plots and forgery rings.
The original application, which was heard on August 31, from the Home Office, was granted, paving the way for the testimony to the heard in St Helens.
However, mystery surrounds the precise nature of the hearing because of an order by the Home Office banning publication of the details surrounding the case.
The application was made to provide legal assistance for the authorities in Hong Kong and was issued under section 15 of the Criminal (International Co-operation) Act 2003.
Court records seen by the St Helens Reporter reveal the application relates to ‘the use of obtaining evidence for use in Hong Kong’.
It is unclear who gave the deposition or precisely why the hearing was held in St Helens.
The Criminal (International Co-operation) Act 2003 is designed to help police forces and intelligence services around the globe tackle terrorist threats and organised forgery and counterfeiting operations.
It also gives Home Secretary Theresa May (pictured) the power to order the hearing take place in any court in England and Wales deemed appropriate.
A Home Office spokesman declined to comment.