Home Secretary ponders extradition decision after tycoon loses High Court fight

Priti Patel is set to decide whether Mike Lynch should be extradited to the United States by the end of the week.

Brian Farmer
Wednesday 26 January 2022 18:38 GMT
Mike Lynch has lost the latest round of a legal fight (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Mike Lynch has lost the latest round of a legal fight (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Archive)

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Home Secretary Priti Patel is set to decide before the end of the week whether a British technology tycoon should be extradited to the United States after being accused of fraud.

Ms Patel has been given a two-day decision deadline by a High Court judge after Mike Lynch lost the latest round of a legal fight.

A Home Office spokeswoman says Ms Patel is giving “full consideration” to issues raised in Mr Lynch’s case.

Mr Lynch had mounted a High Court challenge against a deadline set by a judge who oversaw extradition proceedings.

But Mr Justice Swift, who considered his challenge at a recent High Court hearing in London, ruled against him on Wednesday.

Priti Patel is set to make a decision before the end of this week (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Priti Patel is set to make a decision before the end of this week (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Wire)

Mr Justice Swift heard that a judge at Westminster Magistrates’ Court had rejected “various challenges” Mr Lynch had made against his extradition and ruled that Ms Patel could decide whether to extradite.

Ms Patel subsequently asked District Judge Michael Snow if she could have until March 2022 to make that decision.

Judge Snow refused her application and said she should make a decision before Christmas.

Mr Lynch challenged that ruling by Judge Snow and wanted Mr Justice Swift to overturn it.

Mr Justice Swift refused.

He said, in the light of his decision, Ms Patel had two working days in which to decide whether to extradite.

Lawyers said the deadline was now midnight on Friday.

A Home Office spokeswoman said, after Mr Justice Swift’s ruling: “The Home Secretary continues to give full consideration to the issues raised in this case.”

Mr Justice Swift had said, in a written ruling, that Judge Snow’s decision had “come nowhere near” usurping any of Ms Patel’s functions.

“It was for the judge to decide whether there was sufficient reason to grant the extension requested,” said Mr Justice Swift in his written ruling on Wednesday.

“The judge was entitled to expect a clear explanation of the reasons why the extension was needed.”

He added: “No such explanation is immediately apparent from the reasons relied on by the Secretary of State.”

Mr Justice Swift said the decision deadline set by Judge Snow had been extended to cater for Mr Lynch’s High Court challenge.

US authorities have accused Mr Lynch of being involved in a multibillion-dollar fraud in America over the sale of his software company, Autonomy, to Hewlett-Packard in 2011 for 11 billion dollars (£8.5 billion), which resulted in “colossal financial losses” for the US firm.

They claim that he deliberately overstated the value of his business, which specialised in software to sort through large data sets.

Mr Lynch denies all charges against him.

Lawyers representing the US government argued that Mr Lynch’s challenge to Judge Snow’s ruling should be dismissed.

Ms Patel wanted to consider another judge’s ruling, in a separate High Court case involving Mr Lynch, before making an extradition decision.

Lawyers had told Mr Justice Swift that that ruling – by Mr Justice Hildyard – was imminent.

Mr Justice Hildyard began overseeing a High Court trial in London more than two years ago.

Hewlett-Packard sued Mr Lynch, and Autonomy’s former chief financial officer, Sushovan Hussain, for around five billion dollars (£3.8 billion) over its purchase of Autonomy in 2011.

The technology giant claimed Mr Lynch “committed a deliberate fraud over a sustained period of time” to artificially inflate Autonomy’s value, which it says forced it to announce an 8.8 billion dollar (£6.7 billion) write-down of the firm’s worth just over a year after its acquisition.

Mr Lynch argued that Hewlett-Packard was trying to make him “a scapegoat for their failures”.

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