High-profile cases shake faith in extradition law

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Vital extradition arrangements between the UK and the United States are being threatened by the loss of public confidence among Britons, MPs said today.

There is a risk that the lack of confidence, fuelled by concerns over a series of high-profile cases, “will translate into wider disaffection”, the Commons home affairs select committee warned.

It called for an overhaul of the controversial 2003 treaty which governs arrangements, saying judges should decide where cases are heard, an initial test of someone’s guilt should be considered, and the treaty’s text should be changed to ensure it is balanced.

The report comes as Home Secretary Theresa May considers the results of an independent review by former Court of Appeal judge Sir Scott Baker last year, which found the treaty was both balanced and fair.

The committee’s review comes as retired businessman Christopher Tappin, 65, is being held in jail in New Mexico while he awaits trial on arms dealing charges after being extradited last month.

Scottish Asperger’s sufferer Gary McKinnon, 46, is still waiting to hear whether he will be extradited over charges he hacked into US military computers 10 years ago.

Student Richard O’Dwyer, 23, of Chesterfield, is also fighting extradition after being accused of breaking American copyright laws by using his computer in the UK.