Racist publishers to be exempt from extradition

Newspaper owners responsible for publishing racist or xenophobic articles in Britain are to be protected from being sent for trials abroad under government plans to soften the impact of the new Extradition Bill.

Ministers will introduce amendments today to tough European-wide laws that allow courts to extradite EU citizens accused of committing one of 32 generic criminal offences.

Concerns raised by the media that they could fall foul of the new law when it comes into force in January have prompted the Government to act to remove the threat of prosecution.

The Bill makes "xenophobia and racism" one of 32 crimes for which a British citizen can be sent for trial in another EU country - such as Germany or Austria, where it is illegal - although there is no such standalone offence in this country.

But because British newspapers are sold abroad and their articles are published on the internet, editors and their proprietors could face prosecution for racist offences committed in this country.