The lives of a British couple who are fighting extradition to the United States over an alleged work expenses fraud have been “shattered”, the High Court has heard.
Paul and Sandra Dunham, from Northampton, launched their action after the US Department of Justice sought their extradition over what the couple claim is an “employment-related dispute”.
Mr Dunham, 58, who was chief executive and president of Pace, a US company manufacturing soldering irons for the electronics industry, was indicted on 13 counts of fraud and money laundering by a grand jury in Greenbelt, Maryland, in December 2011, while his 57-year-old wife is accused of aiding and abetting him. They “ vehemently reject” allegations relating to expenses claims while working in the US.
Today their counsel Ben Watson told Lord Justice Beatson and Mr Justice Simon: “The Dunhams are both British citizens; UK nationals with a long established family life in this country. They have been married 35 years.. and have one son and five grandchildren aged between one and 15. They were in the US for a decade from 1999 to 2009 and their lives have already been shattered by the events underlying these proceedings.
“They lost their jobs in which they had worked for many years and their assets in the US, including their residential home... the stake they had in the company. They were declared bankrupt in this country. They lost their good standing and meaningful employment opportunities and their mental and physical health has suffered severely too.”
Mr Watson said that all these points plainly raised an important issue under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act which relates to private and family life. “But what tips the balance, we say, is what awaits them in the US... the facility they are most likely to be remanded to has... inadequate medical facilities to care for Mr Dunham’s mental health.”
Mr Dunham, who was in court with his wife, has suffered a series of mini-strokes. The couple say the first they knew about a criminal complaint was when they were arrested under an extradition request in late 2012. They say that all the expenses payments they received were properly accounted for. The judges reserved their decision to a later date.