Reid opens City talks over extradition

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The Independent Online

The Home Office has opened negotiations with a leading group of lawyers over the controversial Extradition Act.

The GC 100 group represents general counsel at FTSE 100 companies. Earlier this year, it started a wide-ranging consultation with partners at City law firms, asking for their experiences of the Act.

The findings have since been submitted to the Government and a spokesman confirmed that the organisation was in talks with the department, now headed by John Reid.

William Long, who works for legal services firm Practical Law Company, which is the secretariat for GC 100, said: "It is involved with meetings with the Home Office at the moment. The dialogue is still ongoing." He declined to comment further.

The business community has become increasingly concerned about the Act, which was introduced in 2003. Many feel the treaty is unfairly targeting business people, rather than terrorists and is a one-way piece of legislation.

The so-called NatWest Three are due to be flown to the US later this month after losing a lengthy fight against extradition.

David Bermingham, Gary Mulgrew and Giles Darby, all former Greenwich NatWest executives, are accused of conspiring to defraud their employers of $7.3m (£3.9m) in an Enron-related deal. They will stand trial for seven counts of wire fraud, but not before spending at least a year in jail while the case is prepared. They deny all wrongdoing.

A Home Office spokesman confirmed the meetings with GC 100. But he also defended the Act: "We have been speaking to [GC 100] so that we can provide advice - that's ongoing. The aim is to provide clear advice to British business.

"But we just disagree [the Act is unfair]. We started consulting on this in March 2001. It is meant to deal with all crime. This isn't there just to deal with terrorism."

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