US Extradition

24 February 2012

Today, Christopher Tapping will go to Heathrow police station. He will be handed over to US marshals and taken to Texas. He is a retired businessman, and the latest  to be extradited from the UK to the US under the controversial arrangements which do not allow consideration of the evidence or discussions about the appropriate venue for any trial. His local MP described the extradition treaty between the UK and US as acting like "a mindless and robotic catapult, flinging people across the Atlantic at the mere whim of US Homeland Security.”

Last year a review of extradition carried out by a retired High Court judge did not recommend any changes. The review is still being considered by the Home Office. Whether we should return to a system where more requesting countries should provide prima facie evidence is a matter  of much debate. However, there are, in our view, compelling arguments for  certainly introducing the "Forum bar". Where it appears that a significant part of the conduct alleged to constitute the extradition offence occurred in the UK and it would not be in the interests of justice for the person to be tried for the offence in the requesting territory then it should be open to the court to say that any trial should take place here. Indeed an amendment to the legislation was approved in 2006 and could easily be implemented. The argument against this Forum bar is that it would lead to "satellite litigation". But we should not forget that in extradition we're dealing with the freedom of the individual.

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