Letter: Freeing of McAliskey

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YOUR headline "decision to free McAliskey made on political grounds" (11 March) was not even supported by the story beneath it, still less by the truth.

I did not discuss the case with any other minister outside the Home Office, nor did I receive representations from any other minister about what you alleged are wider political implications. I took my decision having considered the representations put forward by Roisin McAliskey's solicitors, having regard to the requirements of the Extradition Act 1989. The material before me included two detailed medical reports, one from the doctors who have been treating Roisin McAliskey since the middle of 1997 and one by a leading forensic psychiatrist retained by the Home Office.

By law, I am required not to return a fugitive if I believe that it would be unjust or oppressive to do so. That was the basis for the decision in this case as it was in another case which I also dealt with last weekend (wholly unrelated to any terrorist allegations) where again, on overwhelming medical evidence, I decided not to order return. I took both decisions carefully, and as is required of me by the 1989 Act.

You were also wrong to imply that I had "waited" before making a decision in this case. I received the papers last Friday, read them over the weekend and made and announced my decision on Monday.

JACK STRAW

Home Secretary

Home Office

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