i Editor's Letter: British justice has failed


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I am sorry, I know I should be telling you about my new virtual friends on Twitter via @stefanohat, and your suggestions for how to make maths more engaging at school (not sure poker is going to fly, @adedalex).

It’s just I can’t help thinking about Christopher Tappin, and the lack of courage shown over extradition not just by this government, but the previous one too. The clearly lop-sided US-UK extradition relationship has been evident since the 2004 Extradition Act. Since then, there has been an ever-growing rise in the number of requests for extradition from Britain (think Gary McKinnon, Richard O’Dwyer). And, we seem powerless – unwilling, even – to prevent them.

Why should we? Well, to quote a letter to the Daily Telegraph on the subject; “Britain has a history of respect for principles such as habeas corpus and the presumption of innocence”. The 65-year-old Mr Tappin, like others in his situation, now faces a long period of incarceration until his trial, even though there has been no review here of whether there is a case to answer re his alleged conspiracy to export batteries that could be used in Iranian missiles. American authorities need less evidence than their British counterparts to win extradition. And yet, Sir Scott Baker’s review of extradition last year found it was “fair” to British citizens.

Tell that to poor Elaine Tappin who broke down in front of the Home Affairs Select Committee this week as she talked of their plight. Or to Christopher Tappin himself, this weekend in solitary confinement in a New Mexico jail, locked up 23 hours a day without even reading material. He will come under huge pressure to strike a plea bargain in return for a “lighter” sentence – regardless of any guilt.

Small wonder the Tappins feel British justice has failed them.