Former cult members lose extradition plea: House of Lords to decide if women must face murder plot charges in US
Yesterday, despite arguments from lawyers for Sally Croft and Susan Hagan that the decision was flawed because of the unreliability of the evidence, their application for judicial review of the Home Secretary's action was rejected by the High Court.
Lord Justice Russell, sitting with Mr Justice Blofeld, said the Home Secretary, then Kenneth Clarke, had acted lawfully and the decision to extradite them should stand. 'There is no evidence to indicate he exercised his discretion unreasonably.' He had been fully entitled to decide there was 'a clear prima facie' case against the women and the reliability of the evidence should be left to the trial jury.
Later, the court refused an application for an appeal to the House of Lords, which means that lawyers for the two women will now apply directly to the law lords for a hearing. The Home Office made it clear that their extradition warrants, signed by the Home Secretary in April, will not be enforced until the law lords have decided the issue, which could take many months.
Ms Croft, 44, a chartered accountant, who lives in central London, and Mrs Hagan, 46, an aromatherapist, of Abbots Langley, Hertfordshire, deny the allegations that while they were members of Bhagwan cult community in Oregon more than eight years ago they were involved in a conspiracy to murder Charles Turner, an attorney who was investigating the cult. He was never harmed.
After the hearing, both women said they continue their fight. Ms Croft said: 'I am never going to have a chance to have a fair trial and prove my innocence because of the scandalous prejudice against the Rajneesh community in Oregon. That is why we are so terrified by the process we are in.'
She said many of the details about the case supplied by the US authorities were factually inaccurate. Lord Longford, one of several eminent opponents to their extradition, was in court. He described the decision as 'a disgraceful miscarriage of justice'.
During the hearing last week, lawyers for the two women argued that the FBI evidence was tainted because of plea-bargaining and immunity-from-prosecution deals with four other former cult members who had agreed to give evidence against the women. They also protested at the 'long and oppressive' delay in bringing the case and argued that local prejudice against the cult would prevent a fair trial.
Tourist films plane's descent just metres above packed Caribbean beach
Bali nine: Welcome to 'Execution Island' – the Indonesian holiday resort where foreigners are sent to die
How Homer Simpson discovered the Higgs boson over a decade before scientists
The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
Harrison Ford seriously injured after his vintage light aircraft crash lands near Los Angeles, report claims
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Nigel Farage promises Ukip will not 'stigmatise' would-be migrants – and says he wants 'everyone to speak the same language'
Ex-head of MI6: 'We shouldn't kid ourselves that Russia is on a path to democracy'
Most people think legal tax avoidance is just as wrong as illegal tax evasion, poll suggests
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are an award-winning digit...
£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...
£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...
£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...