Former cult members extradited to the US: Women flown under police guard to Oregon for trial on charges of conspiracy to murder, after losing long legal fight. Steve Boggan reports

TWO British women who are accused of conspiring to murder a United States attorney yesterday lost their four-year extradition battle and were put on an aircraft to face a hostile reception in America, where they could face up to 20 years in jail.

Sally Croft, 44, and Susan Hagan, 47, former members of the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh sect in Antelope, Oregon, decided to fight no further after accusing Michael Howard, the Home Secretary, of pandering to American public opinion.

Their last two High Court applications fell by the wayside yesterday with Lord Justice Steyn and Mr Justice Kay describing them as 'abuses of the legal process'. They said they would not seek leave to appeal against yesterday's ruling either to the Court of Appeal or to the House of Lords.

Five hours after the ruling the women were put on board a United Airlines flight to New York, accompanied by two police guards. Their final destination today is Portland, where the conspiracy was allegedly hatched.

Ms Croft and Ms Hagan left the Rajneeshee community in 1985 but were told in 1990 that they were accused of conspiring to murder Charles Turner, the US attorney who was investigating the sect. Mr Turner was never harmed.

Alun Jones QC, counsel for the women, had argued that Mr Howard had behaved 'irrationally' by refusing to debate their case. He also claimed that the women faced religious prejudice in Oregon, where the Rajneeshees are widely despised.

But, despite the production of highly emotive news footage broadcast in Oregon and a poll showing that 43 per cent of Oregonians consider the women guilty, the judges ruled that there was no risk of prejudice against them.

After four unsuccessful judicial reviews and three applications for writs of habeas corpus, the women decided to fight no more.

'We have a home secretary of so little integrity that we considered it a waste of time to proceed,' said Ms Croft, an accountant from Totnes, Devon.

'He has refused to listen to concerns about the case in the House of Lords and the House of Commons. I feel I have been let down by my country because we don't have a Home Secretary with the courage to break (a) 124-year tradition of extraditing everyone America asks for.'

As soon as the applications fell, Nicholas Parker, counsel for Mr Howard, said the women would be put on an aircraft at 6pm. He opposed granting bail until that time, but his opposition was rejected, allowing the women the dignity of travelling freely to Heathrow airport to present themselves to police.

Ms Croft, accompanied by her partner Malcolm Parlett, and Ms Hagan, with her daughter Katharine, 18, and son Nicholas, 23, travelled by Underground surrounded by a posse of journalists, photographers and cameramen.

''I feel absolutely devastated,' said Ms Hagan, an aromatherapist. 'I have no complaints about the legal process but I do about the way it is hamstrung by political considerations.

'The Home Secretary is supposed to be a safeguard to prevent Britons being sent somewhere where they won't get a fair trial. In this instance, I don't believe we will get a fair trial.'

Both women deny knowing about, or being part of, any conspiracy.

Andrew McCooey, Ms Croft's solicitor, was stunned by the decision to extradite them. 'You could understand it if there was a body, or if a gun was fired, or if someone was in hospital,' he said.

'But nothing like that happened. We're sending two innocent women into a lion's den. There is not a shred of credible evidence against them. We're just ruining two lives to keep the Yanks happy.'

Prosecutors in America have already indicated that they intend to oppose bail for the women. But Lord Scarman, formerly one of the country's most eminent judges, has written in support of the women's applications for bail as part of a growing campaign in support of the women in Parliament.

If convicted, the maximum sentence that can be imposed is life, but American lawyers are predicting the women will get 20 years.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appeal
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly finalists Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge
tvLive: Simon Webbe, Caroline Flack, Mark Wright and Frankie Bridge face-off in the final
Sport
Ched Evans in action for Sheffield United in 2012
footballRonnie Moore says 'he's served his time and the boy wants to play football'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture