Opinion from Lord Digby Jones

UK Government failing to protect its own citizens

Published Tuesday 28 February, 2012

I am sure you have all heard of the latest business person to be extradited to the USA without even a prima facie case having to be proven in the UK against him. This is entirely down to UK legislation and not the fault of the Americans.

Christopher Tappin's case is one more example of an appalling situation where UK citizens can be removed, against their will, to a prison thousands of miles from home, incarcerated without a trial and pressurised to plead guilty in a plea-bargain. Defence costs are never refunded; the risk of the matter going eventually to trial and a sentence of decades being handed down is real and to be avoided. There would not even be any remission on the number of years served since remission is not available to aliens in the USA.

"They will get a fair trial" is the response often given; they in all probability will but who in their right mind would risk a long period in gang-run prison before trial, then to spin the roulette wheel at trial with that downside?

The Treaty enshrined in legislation is lop-sided in favour of the USA; there is no way the American Constitution would allow an American citizen to be treated in the same way regarding the level of proof required by the domestic courts before extradition is allowed.  The UK Courts are powerless to stop proceedings each time this happens. The extraditing authority has superior rights thanks to UK legislation.

Mr Tappin may well have committed those acts of which he stands accused. But surely he is entitled to be treated as innocent until proven guilty. Every one of us takes that maxim for granted; Presumably Mr Tappin (and many before him) did as well.  The first duty of any Government is to protect its own citizens. Right now, people whose avowed intent is the destruction of our Society are receiving more favourable treatment in this Country than Mr Tappin and people like him. A simple change in the UK law would rectify the matter.