Mother of next Briton facing extradition fears for his future

Julia O'Dwyer says May's plan to give UK citizens new protections will come too late for her son

The mother of a young man facing extradition to the US fears plans to give judges new powers to decide whether a case should be tried at home or abroad will be too late to save her son.

Richard O'Dwyer, a 24-year-old student from Barnsley, is facing five years in an American prison for hosting a TV link site from his university bedsit. He is one of the few remaining British citizens still fighting extradition to the US over alleged cyber-crimes that have taken place on British soil.

On Tuesday, Home Secretary Theresa May halted the extradition of computer hacker Gary McKinnon and announced plans to bring in a "forum bar" which would allow judges to decide if such cases should be tried in Britain. But Mr O'Dwyer's mother, Julia, said she had little faith that the Government would bring in the legislation before her son's case comes to appeal.

"It would be good if they could do that but I don't think they will," she said. "We certainly haven't been given any hope that they might. They can bring in laws quickly when they want to."

The O'Dwyer family watched Tuesday's announcement to halt Gary McKinnon's extradition with a mixture of hope and trepidation. Unlike Mr McKinnon, who was saved from extradition because he was at risk of suicide, Mr O'Dwyer has no underlying health concerns. But extradition campaigners have flocked to his cause as another example of the perceived outsourcing of British justice to America. Almost 250,000 people have signed a petition against his extradition set up by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.

"Gary's a different case," said Mrs O'Dwyer. "But it's the same old thing – people being extradited when they've never even left this country and that's not happening to American citizens."

Plans to bring in a forum bar would likely need new legislation in Parliament which means it could be at least two years before any changes are made. Mr O'Dwyer is currently appealing Mrs May's recent approval of his extradition in a case which is due to be heard in the court within the next six months.

Extradition campaigners have long argued for a forum bar. But some legal analysts have questioned whether it would have made any difference in many of the recent extradition cases that have come before the court.

During the recent review of Britain's extradition agreements by Sir Scott Baker, judges at Westminster magistrates – which hears all extradition requests – were asked if they could think of an example where a forum bar might have resulted in a suspect being tried in the UK. They said they couldn't find a single case.

Others have remarked how the forum bar is far from the extradition campaigners' ultimate goal of a renegotiation of Britain's extradition treaty with the US.

Profile: Richard O'Dwyer

The 24-year-old multimedia undergraduate student at Sheffield Hallam University registered the internet domain TVShack.net in 2007, when Mr O'Dwyer was aged just 19. The website he built provided links to US films and TV shows available to watch on other websites, together with a forum for users to discuss what they were watching. It is claimed that he earned £140,000 through advertisements on his site. It was shut down on grounds of copyright infringement in June 2010, for helping people to access pirated material elsewhere despite not hosting any itself. Four months later Mr O'Dwyer was visited by police officers who seized his computer equipment and took him away for questioning, before the US launched extradition proceedings.

Rob Hastings

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
  • Get to the point
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

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power