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

Sport
File photo of Lewis Hamilton celebrating becoming World Champion after victory in the 2014 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix as he was made favourite to become the first motor racing winner of Sports Personality of the Year since Damon Hill
sportGareth Bale, Carl Froch and Kelly Gallagher also in the mix for award
News
Japan's Suntory Beverage & Food has bought GlaxoSmithKline's Lucozade and Ribena
news
News
A tongue-eating louse (not the one Mr Poli found)
newsParasitic louse appeared inside unfilleted sea bass
News
The illusionist believes hypnotism helped him to deal with the lack of control he felt growing up
people'It’s not that people react badly to it – they really don't care'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
peopleJack Monroe accuses David Cameron of 'misty-eyed rhetoric'
News
Tana Ramsay gave evidence in a legal action in which her husband, Gordon, is accusing her father, Christopher Hutcheson, of using a ghost writer machine to “forge” his signature
peopleTana Ramsay said alleged discovery was 'extremely distressing'
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Windsor and Aljaz Skorjanec rehearse their same-sex dance together on Strictly Come Dancing
TV
Money
Anyone over the age of 40 seeking a loan with a standard term of 25 years will be borrowing beyond a normal retirement age of 65, and is liable to find their options restricted
propertyAnd it's even worse if you're 40
Arts and Entertainment
Perhaps longest awaited is the adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road with Brazil’s Walter Salles directing and Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart and Viggo Mortensen as the Beat-era outsiders
books
Arts and Entertainment
theatreSinger to join cast of his Broadway show after The Last Ship flounders at the box office
Life and Style
fashion'To start singing with Pharrell is not that bad, no?'
News
news
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

Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor

£30000 - £60000 per annum + Excellent: Austen Lloyd: Employment Solicitor - Ke...

Argyll Scott International: Risk Assurance Manager

Negotiable: Argyll Scott International: Hi All, I'm currently recruiting for t...

Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Ashdown Group: IT Systems Analyst / Application Support Engineer (ERP / SSRS)

£23000 - £30000 per annum + pension, 25days holiday: Ashdown Group: An industr...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible