Christopher Tappin extradition 'highlights problems'

 

The extradition of a British businessman has highlighted problems with the treaty between the UK and the United States which are not "readily curable", the Attorney General said today.

Dominic Grieve QC said Britons were left uneasy when faced with the seemingly harsh and disproportionate sentences in the American justice system.

His comments come as retired British businessman Christopher Tappin, who faces up to 35 years in jail if convicted over arms dealing charges, will appear in a US court tonight after losing his two-year battle against being sent to America last week.

Earlier, Tappin's wife Elaine, 62, broke down in tears as she told MPs of her despair that nobody was prepared to listen to his defence before "carting him off".

Mr Grieve said: "I think there's a lack of public confidence in the US justice system, which is a rather wider issue and more complicated than the minutiae of the treaty agreement.

"There are perceptions in this country that the US criminal justice system can be harsh, its penal policy can be harsh, and its sentencing policy can appear disproportionate by European and British standards.

"There are aspects of it therefore which tend to make people uncertain and uneasy, and I'm not sure that that's readily curable."

Mr Grieve admitted the UK's extradition laws were not ideal, but said: "In a world where we wish to see crime successfully combated, having a system by which to facilitate transfer to countries which meet the necessary criteria of fairness so as to curb crime is absolutely indispensable."

He added: "Perhaps we are where we are today because we rushed things in 2003."

Asked about Tappin, he said: "Any circumstances in which a person of Mr Tappin's age is going to be extradited to a country, a very long way from home, separated from his family, to be involved in the criminal justice system with clearly an uncertain outcome from his point of view... is going to be stressful and distressing."

He said there was "rather considerable scrutiny" before Tappin was extradited, but admitted the circumstances caused the public "disquiet".

"It may be linked to Mr Tappin's respectability... and his age, in contrast for example to an individual who may attract public opprobrium and be seen in one way or another as being rather undesirable."

Mr Grieve was giving evidence to MPs just minutes after Mrs Tappin, 62, of Orpington, Kent, broke down in tears as she described how her family felt "incredulity, frustration, heartrending sadness, despair and utter disbelief" as they faced a "wholly uncertain future".

In a written statement which she was unable to finish reading, Mrs Tappin went on: "At the heart of our despair is the fact that nobody was prepared to listen to Chris's defence before carting him off.

"They ticked the boxes but were deaf and blind to the possibility of injustice."

Mrs Tappin said she had still not been able to talk to her husband since he was extradited and he was being held in isolation, "locked up for 23 hours a day".

She said it was the "cruellest blow" when her husband lost his battle against extradition, saying he "was stunned and totally devastated when his appeal was rejected".

Mrs Tappin, who has chronic Churg-Strauss syndrome, was accompanied by her son, Neil, when she gave evidence to the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee for its review of extradition arrangements.

Just last week she tearfully accompanied her husband to Heathrow Airport, before he was handcuffed and seated between two US marshals on a plane to America.

Tappin described the decision to extradite him a "disgrace", saying that the radical cleric Abu Qatada, who poses a threat to the UK's national security, had "more rights than I have" after he was allowed to stay in the UK.

Mr Tappin, the president of the Kent Golf Union, who is currently in custody, is due in court in El Paso, Texas, for a procedural hearing at 2.30pm local time (8.30pm GMT).

He is likely to be remanded in custody for three days when a bail hearing will take place, according to lawyers.

His MP, Tory Jo Johnson, and UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, who has known the businessman for nearly 40 years, have asked Home Secretary Theresa May to intervene to ensure the US authorities do not object to bail.

Tappin denies attempting to sell batteries for surface-to-air missiles which were to be shipped from the US to Tehran via the Netherlands.

Janis Sharp, the mother of computer hacker Gary McKinnon who is fighting extradition to the US, and David Bermingham, one of the NatWest Three bankers who spent 17 months in prison after being extradited to the US in 2006, were in the public gallery for today's hearing.

A spokeswoman for the US Embassy in London said the American authorities do allow video evidence to be taken "under appropriate circumstances".

PA

News
peopleTop Gear presenter and all-round controversialist is at it again
Life & Style
techHow a 'grey brick' took over the world of portable gaming
Sport
Aaron Ramsey celebrates after opening the scoring in Arsenal's win over Hull `
sport
News
peopleActress speaks out against historic sexual assault claims, saying things have 'gone quite far now'

News
Coren Mitchell, who is the daughter of the late broadcaster Alan Coren and is married to comedian David Mitchell, produced a hand to make poker history at the 98th EPT main event.
peopleJournalist and TV presenter becomes first ever two-time winner of the European Poker Tour
Arts & Entertainment
A stranger calls: Martin Freeman in ‘Fargo’
tvReview: New 10-part series brims with characters and stories

Life & Style
Guests enjoy food and cocktail parings by Chefs Jimmy Bannos, Jimmy Bannos Jr, Daniel Rose and Mindy Segal with mixologists Josh King and Alex Gara at Bounty & Barrel: A Jack Daniel's Single Barrel Dinner Series at Heaven on Seven on April 9, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois.
food + drinkSprinkle Palcohol 'on almost any dish' for 'an extra kick' firm says...
Arts & Entertainment
Shaun Evans as Endeavour interviews a prisoner as he tries to get to the bottom of a police cover up
tvReview: Second series comes to close with startling tale of police corruption and child abuse
Arts & Entertainment
Schwarzenegger winning Mr. Universe 1969
arts + entsCan you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
News
politicsLabour launches the 'completely hollow' Easter Clegg
Sport
Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring in Liverpool's 3-2 win over Norwich
sport Another hurdle is out of the way for Brendan Rodgers' side
News
Portrait of Queen Elizabeth-II by David Bailey which has been released to mark her 88th birthday
peoplePortrait released to mark monarch's 88th birthday
Arts & Entertainment
The star of the sitcom ‘Miranda’ is hugely popular with mainstream audiences
TVMiranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
Life & Style
The writer, Gerda Saunders, with her mother, who also suffered with dementia before her death
healthGerda Saunders on the most formidable effect of her dementia
Arts & Entertainment
Last, but by no means least, is Tommy Cooper and the fez. This style of hat became a permanent trademark of his act.
comedyNot Like That, Like This centres on alleged domestic abuse
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?

Day In a Page

Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter: The man who could have been champion of the world - and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him

The man who could have been champion of the world

Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him
Didn’t she do well?

Didn’t she do well?

Miranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

In Iraq, mafiosi already run almost the entire oil output of the south of the country
Before they were famous

Before they were famous

Can you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is genius

Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is a stroke of genius

Series is brimming with characters and stories all its own
How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players