US mother Eileen Clark loses extradition battle

 

Click to follow
The Independent Online

An American mother-of-three has finally lost her battle in the UK courts against extradition back to the US.

Eileen Clark, 54, is wanted on charges of "international parental kidnapping" after fleeing with her children from an unhappy marriage more than a decade ago.

Lawyers for Mrs Clark, a US citizen living in West Way, Oxford, argued in the High Court that it would be unlawful and "oppressive" to extradite her because of her worsening psychiatric problems and fear of flying.

They also argued the US authorities were at fault for not seeking her return earlier as she had been living "openly" in the UK since December 1998 and had put down "deep roots".

Lord Justice Stanley Burnton and Mr Justice Underhill, sitting at London's High Court, recently rejected the argument and dismissed her appeal against a Westminster Magistrates' Court ruling in March last year that extradition could go ahead.

The Home Secretary ordered the extradition of Mrs Clark, whose three children are now aged from late teens to early 20s, two months after the Westminster court hearing.

Today Lord Justice Burnton refused to certify that her case raised issues of general public importance.

The refusal effectively blocks the former aerobics trainer and model from taking her case to the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land.

The High Court said it accepted that Mrs Clark would suffer hardship, but it could not be characterised as oppressive.

The US authorities have given assurances that medical assistance will be made available to her on any extradition flight to America, and that a special charter flight can be arranged, if that is required.

Mrs Clark was arrested at her Oxfordshire home in July 2010 following an American government request for her return.

Her first husband, John Clark, started legal proceedings against her after she left the marital home in New Mexico with the couple's children, going to live with friends in California.

In June 1995, state prosecutors charged her with "custodial interference". The marriage was dissolved in February 1997 with both parents retaining legal custody.

Her former husband, who never saw the children while they were growing up, continued to pursue his case against her through the US courts, leading to her eventually being indicted by a grand jury with the "international parental kidnapping" charge after fleeing to the UK.

Rejecting her appeal, Mr Justice Underhill questioned the assertion that Mrs Clark had lived "openly" in the UK since 1998, and the US authorities could have found her sooner if they had made the appropriate effort.

The judge said that, while she may have retained her own name, "she did not tell anyone in the US where she was.

"She did not tell the US authorities where she was, or indeed - for a while - her own parents."

In the UK, Mrs Clark married her second husband Ron Woolsey. Even though they are now divorced Mr Woolsey continues to support her and her children.

Mr Woolsey said: "It is my understanding and belief that any action she has taken was simply to protect her children.

"My understanding is that if she had not taken that action she would be liable for the harm that came to them in not taking that action. That has been her mitigation all along."

PA