Women to be extradited to US for trial: Clarke attacked for agreeing that two former Bhagwan followers should face charges in America. Heather Mills reports
Tuesday 27 April 1993
Kenneth Clarke, the Home Secretary, ordered the extradition of Susan Hagan and Sally Croft yesterday to face charges of conspiracy to murder - despite warnings from Lord Scarman, the former Law Lord, and lawyers that there was a serious risk of a miscarriage of justice.
Mr Clarke's decision means that the women should be extradited before Monday, but Andrew McCooey, their solicitor, said yesterday that he would be applying immediately for judicial review - which could delay the procedure - and would, if necessary, take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.
The charges of plotting to kill Charles Turner, a US federal attorney, arise from events eight years ago when the two women were followers of the Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. Suggestions of a plot arose after the Bhagwan commune in the wilderness near Antelope, Oregon, collapsed amid infighting and bitter confrontation with the US authorities.
But no attempt was ever made on Mr Turner's life. In fact, the only evidence against the two women is the uncorroborated testimony of other former cult members, who in plea bargains won lenient sentences for providing statements against others.
Appeals to Mr Clarke to intervene were prompted by the lack of corroboration; delays in bringing the case - the US Justice Department did not seek the extradition for nearly five years; fear that the women could not get a fair trial in Oregon where local resentment against the Bhagwan's followers remains fierce; and failure to disclose the evidence to the women. The Home Secretary has the power to refuse extradition if he considers it would be 'unjust or oppressive'.
But no Home Secretary has ever refused an extradition request from the US and Mr Clarke made it clear he was not prepared to set a precedent. He said: 'I am satisfied a clear prima facie case has been found against both women. The strength of the evidence and the guilt or innocence of the accused should be determined by a court of law and not by me.'
Nick Raynsford, Ms Croft's MP, said: 'This is a squalid case of political expediency overriding justice. The case is threadbare. It is based on unsubstantiated allegations made as part of a plea bargain by discredited individuals. No case would be entertained in the British courts on such a flimsy basis, which Mr Clarke, as a QC, must know only too well.'
Now in their mid-40s, Ms Croft, a senior accountant, and Ms Hagan, an aromatherapist and mother of two, face up to 20 years in jail if convicted.
Ms Hagan said: 'I'm stunned, I can't believe the Home Secretary has found there is a prime facie case. And how can he be convinced there will be no prejudice against cults, especially in the light of recent events at Waco.'
Website users raised funds after Jennifer Lawrence nude photo leak
- 1 David Sedaris: What I learnt from Fitbit about the world around me
- 2 Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
- 3 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 4 Cee Lo Green: 'It's only rape if the victim is conscious'
- 5 Katie Hopkins in tears over weight gain challenge: ‘I hate fat people for making me do this’
Emma Watson on Jennifer Lawrence nude pictures leak: 'Even worse than seeing women's privacy violated is reading the comments'
Jessica Brown Findlay: Downton Abbey actress is linked to list of celebrities targeted by hackers
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
Ariana Grande nude photos leak: Pictures are completely fake, say representatives
Steven Sotloff 'beheading': British captive shown in Isis video which claims to show death of second US journalist
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Ashya King: Parents of five-year-old boy refused permission to visit him in hospital and denied bail at Spanish court
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
Ashya King: 'Cruel NHS has not given us the treatment we need', says father of five-year-old with brain tumour who fled to Spain
£28000 - £34000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Renewable...
£26000 - £34000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Energy Pr...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Randstad Education are looking for Teach...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Randstad Education require a Drama speci...