Results tagged “Alan Johnson”

Home Secretary Alan Johnson faced numerous MPs in the debate in the Chamber of the House of Commons

Commons Hansard 1 Dec 2009 : Column 975 Gary McKinnon (Extradition)

Gary McKinnon (Extradition)


3.34 pm

Mr. David Burrowes (Enfield, Southgate) (Con) (Urgent Question): To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on his decision not to intervene to stop Gary McKinnon's extradition to the United States.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing this urgent question on behalf of my constituent.

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Alan Johnson): Gary McKinnon is accused of serious criminal offences. He is alleged to have repeatedly hacked into US Government computer networks over a period of 13 months, including 97 US military computers from which he deleted vital operating systems and then copied encrypted information on to his own computer, shutting down the entire US army's military district of Washington's computer network for 24 hours. During interviews under caution, Mr. McKinnon admitted to much of the conduct he is accused of.

A great deal has been made of the perceived imbalance in UK-US extradition arrangements in respect of probable cause versus reasonable suspicion. While I am clear that no such imbalance exists, as Mr. McKinnon has admitted the conduct which has given rise to the extradition request, this issue is academic in his case. This aside, under the terms of the Extradition Act 2003, I can prevent an extradition only in very specific circumstances: where the person in question could be sentenced to death if convicted; where there is a chance of that person being tried for crimes committed before that extradition which were not specified in the extradition request; or where the person has previously been extradited to the UK from another country, or transferred here by the International Criminal Court, and no consent has been given to their being extradited elsewhere.

Outside of the statutory extradition scheme, the courts have made it clear that the only circumstances in which I could prevent extradition would be where the evidence demonstrates that extradition would be a breach of human rights. If it would breach human rights to proceed with extradition, I would have to halt proceedings. If it would not, it would be unlawful for me to do so.

Mr. McKinnon has challenged his extradition in the district court, the High Court, with the Law Lords, and in the European Court of Human Rights, all of whom have ruled that the extradition should go ahead. Following the diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome in August 2008, he made fresh representations to the then Home Secretary claiming that because of his medical condition his extradition would breach the European convention on human rights. The then Home Secretary decided in October 2008 that the evidence Mr. McKinnon submitted did not meet the threshold needed to constitute a breach of the ECHR. Mr. McKinnon challenged in the High Court this decision and the decision by the Crown Prosecution Service that there were no grounds for him to be tried in this country.

On 31 July 2009, the High Court handed down both judgments. In its judgment on the Director of Public Prosecution's decision that Mr. McKinnon should be tried in the US, Lord Justice Stanley Burnton said this:

"It is true that the Claimant's offending conduct took place in this country. However, it was directed at the USA, and at computers in the USA; the information he accessed or could have accessed was US information; its confidentiality and sensitivity were American; and any damage that was inflicted was in the USA. The witnesses who can address the damage done by his offences are in America...

Gary McKinnon is not indicted in the USA on anything to do with the alleged "confidentiality and snoensitivity" of any information he may have gleaned. There are espionage allegations, only unsubstantiated claims of financial damage, not involving the theft of any money or goods.

If ,as he alleges, there were plenty of other hackers from around the world invading the same systems at the same time, then half the crucial witnesses and evidence such as United Kingdom Internet Service provider logfiles and the computer he used, are here in the UK, not in the USA. These may or may not prove that Gary was involved with one of the 97 systems at a particular time, but none of that prima facie evidence has been tested in any court, despite all the Extradition hearings and appeals.

Some of it would have been cross examined under the old extradition Act 1989, which was in force when Gary was arrested in 2002., but the retrospectively applied Extradition Act 2003 has prevented that.

However, it is not for this Court to decide where he should be prosecuted. The decision is that of the DPP. As appears from the preceding paragraphs of this judgment, he cannot be faulted for considering that, other things being equal, the Claimant should be prosecuted in the USA."

He expressed the view that it would be

"manifestly unsatisfactory in the extreme"

for Mr. McKinnon to be tried in the UK and refused permission for this aspect to be judicially reviewed.

Secondly, the Court ruled on 31 July that the decision of the Home Secretary that the extradition of Gary McKinnon to the US would not amount to a breach of his human rights was also correct. The Lord Justice said:

"Ultimately, I have to weigh the impressive medical evidence adduced by the Claimant against the severity involved in Article 3. I have no doubt that he will find extradition to, and trial and sentence and detention in the USA, very difficult indeed. His mental health will suffer. There are risks of worse, including suicide. But if I compare his condition with those considered in the authorities to which I have referred above, even taking full account of the (in my view undesirable) possibility of his being prosecuted in this country, his case does not approach Article 3 severity."

Following that decision, Mr. McKinnon's lawyers made fresh representations, including additional medical evidence. I have carefully considered those representations and I am clear that the information that his lawyers have provided is not materially different from that placed before the High Court earlier this year and does not demonstrate that sending Mr. McKinnon to the United States would breach his human rights.

There are legitimate concerns about Mr. McKinnon's health, and the United States authorities have provided assurances, which were before the High Court in July, that his needs will be met. It is also clear from the proceedings to date that there is no real risk that Mr. McKinnon, if convicted, will serve any of his sentence in a supermax prison. Should Mr. McKinnon be extradited, charged and convicted in the US and seek repatriation to the UK to serve his sentence in this country, the Government will progress his application at the very earliest opportunity.

As I have said at every stage of these proceedings, we will not commence extradition proceedings until all legal avenues that Mr. McKinnon wishes to pursue have been exhausted. He can lodge a judicial review within seven days of this decision, and he can appeal to the ECHR within 14 days of the same date. I am currently considering a request from Mr. McKinnon's lawyers for an extension of the seven-day time limit.

Apart from Rob Marris (Wolverhampton, South-West) (Lab), who can always be relied on to give his Labour front bench an easy, albeit tangential question, not a single one of the MPs who debated this Statement supported Alan Johnson.

These included:

Mr. David Burrowes (Enfield, Southgate) (Con)
Damian Green (Ashford) (Con)
Chris Huhne (Eastleigh) (LD)

Mr. Speaker: Order. No fewer than 23 Members are seeking to catch my eye. Naturally, I am keen to accommodate as many as a reasonable allocation of time will allow, but I appeal to each right hon. and hon. Member to ask a single, short supplementary question and, of course, to the Home Secretary to provide an economical reply.

Liz Blackman (Erewash) (Lab)
Angela Browning (Tiverton and Honiton) (Con)
Keith Vaz (Leicester, East) (Lab)
Mrs. Cheryl Gillan (Chesham and Amersham) (Con)
Kate Hoey (Vauxhall) (Lab)
Mr. John Randall (Uxbridge) (Con
Mark Lazarowicz (Edinburgh, North and Leith) (Lab/Co-op)
Sir Menzies Campbell (North-East Fife) (LD)
Andrew Mackinlay (Thurrock) (Lab)
Mr. Douglas Hogg (Sleaford and North Hykeham) (Con)
Mr. Tom Watson (West Bromwich, East) (Lab)
David Davis (Haltemprice and Howden) (Con)
Andrew Miller (Ellesmere Port and Neston) (Lab)
Mr. Crispin Blunt (Reigate) (Con)
Mrs. Iris Robinson (Strangford) (DUP)
Jeremy Corbyn (Islington, North) (Lab)
John Mason (Glasgow, East) (SNP)
Mr. Alistair Carmichael (Orkney and Shetland) (LD)

Labour government Home Secretary Alan Johnson appears to be trying to wash his hands of Gary McKinnon:

The Daily Telegraph reports:

Gary McKinnon set to be sent to America after Alan Johnson says he cannot block extradition

Exclusive: Gary McKinnon is set to be sent to America to answer computer hacking charges after Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, told his family that he could not block his extradition on medical grounds.

By Christopher Hope and Andrew Porter
Published: 6:45PM GMT 26 Nov 2009

Mr McKinnon's family were notified of the Home Secretary's decision this afternoon. Janis Sharp, Mr McKinnon's mother, was distraught, telling The Daily Telegraph: "I can't believe it. It is a complete nonsense."

Last month Mr Johnson threw a lifeline to Mr McKinnon, who suffers from a form of autism, with a promise to examine new medical evidence "very carefully" before deciding on his extradition last month.

However in an emailed letter to Mrs Sharp, Mr Johnson is understood to have said that a decision to block the extraditon of Mr McKinnon was not in his control.

However, as Alan Johnson himself mentioned in front of the Home Affairs Committee, there may well be another attempt by Gary McKinnon's legal team to interest the European Court of Human Rights in this case

[...]

Mr McKinnon's lawyers can either seek a fresh emergency judicial review of Mr Johnson's decision at the High Court within the next seven days or appeal to the European Court of Human Rights within the next 14 days.

[...]

Tonight, Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, said:

".... Finally, should Mr McKinnon be extradited, charged and convicted in the US and seek repatriation to the UK to serve a custodial sentence, the Government will of course progress his application at the very earliest opportunity.

[...]

"I know there is a concern on all sides to see a conclusion to these proceedings. It is now open to Mr McKinnon's lawyer to consider their legal options. As a consequence I do not propose to comment any further."

Note Johnson's use of the words "the Government will of course progress his application at the very earliest opportunity", trying to pretend that he somehow cares for Gary or his family, friends or supporters.

His final words imply that the case is again sub judice, but they are just as likely to be an excuse to avoid answering any questions about his own handling of the case, before the forthcoming General Election.


The Daily Telegraph reports about the depressing performance of Home Secretary Alan Johnson at the House of Commons Select Committee on Home Affairs oral evidence session on extradition:

Gary McKinnon's mother in tears after snub from Alan Johnson

The mother of Gary McKinnon, the internet hacker fighting extradition to the United States, broke down in tears yesterday after Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, allegedly refused to talk to her.

By Rosa Prince, Political Correspondent
Published: 6:50PM GMT 10 Nov 2009

During a break in a hearing before a House of Commons committee, Janis Sharp attempted to discuss her son's case with Mr Johnson, who shook her hand but walked on in silence.

Earlier, Mrs Sharp had given moving evidence in which she told MPs that the 43-year-old autism sufferer would rather die than be extradited to the United States.

[...]

Presumably this was witnessed by the journalists reporting on this Select Committee session, but the Home Office spin doctors seem to be pushing a different version of the encounter.

It was alleged that Mr Johnson "snubbed" Mrs Sharp during the hearing on Tuesday, but a Home Office spokesman has denied the claim.

"It is not true that the Home Secretary walked pass Mrs Sharpe in silence.

[...]

When Mr Johnson appeared before the committee, however, he said that he had no discretion over the extradition process, and was merely considering the new medical evidence while Mr McKinnon's lawyers considered whether to refer his case to the European Court in Strasbourg.

[...]


The House of Commons Select Committee on Home Affairs, chaired by Keith Vaz MP, is

The Daily Telegraph reports:

Alan Johnson to be grilled by MPs over his decision to extradite Gary McKinnon

Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, is set to be questioned publicly by an all-party committee of MPs over his decision to extradite computer hacker Gary McKinnon to America.

By Christopher Hope, Whitehall Editor
Published: 7:00AM BST 20 Oct 2009

[....]

The Daily Telegraph has learned that the Commons' home affairs select committee is planning to a special session to examine how the treaty has been used by prosecutors, and whether the home secretary should be given discretion to try cases in the UK.

The MPs will also want to examine why US lawyers need only demonstrate "reasonable suspicion" for an extradition warrant to be granted in Britain. There is no reciprocal agreement for the Crown Prosecution Service in America.

Witnesses to be called to give evidence include Mr Johnson, the Home Secretary, and the family of Mr McKinnon, who suffers from autism, sources said.

Keith Vaz MP, the committee's chairman, said: "When considering this Treaty, the principal of reciprocity has long been contentious. I support calls for a review of this treaty in order to get the best deal for UK citizens.

"The case of Gary McKinnon highlights the difficulties in the current extradition relationship between the UK and the US. It is clear that the US got a better deal from the Extradition Treaty.

"The Treaty needs to allow Ministerial discretion in exceptional circumstances such as the case of Gary McKinnon.

"Ministers should always be able to intervene in these circumstances. The Home Affairs Committee will be looking at this issue in the future."

Separately Conservative peers will today seek to amend the legislation by attaching amendment to the Policing and Crime Bill which would allow prosecutors to bring charges in the UK if the crime was committed here.

David Burrowes, the shadow justice minster and Mr McKinnon's MP, said: "This is a good opportunity for Parliament to provide a degree of fairness and justice to the extradition arrangements, and help people like Gary to have justice in this country."

[...]

This seriousness of the legal implications of this case, not just for Gary McKinnon, but for all the rest of us as well, is illustrated by just how much of a mainstream Westminster political hot potato it has become.

The Times newspaper reports:

From The Times
October 17, 2009

Pentagon hacker wins a US extradition delay for psychiatric review

Frances Gibb, Legal Editor

Lawyers for the Home Secretary have agreed to delay moves to extradite Gary McKinnon, the computer hacker, pending a review of fresh psychiatric evidence.

Last week Mr McKinnon, who has Asperger's syndrome, was refused permission to take his case to the Supreme Court and faced 14 days to make representations. But government lawyers have now said that they will set aside the 14-day deadline to take time for consideration of the evidence.

Karen Todner, Mr McKinnon's lawyer, said: "We do take some hope from this. It is the first time that Alan Johnson will have a proper opportunity to consider the reports in this case and it shows that he is taking it seriously. In the meantime we don't want to be hammering on his door."

[...]

Will this sort of Joanna Lumely style charm soften the heart
of the the former hardline Communist, avowed atheist, former Trades Union apparatchik and current 6th choice as Labour Home Secretary Alan Johnson ?

More detailed reporting by The Daily Mail:

Fresh hope for Gary McKinnon as his U.S. extradition is delayed

By James Slack and Michael Seamark
Last updated at 1:18 AM on 17th October 2009

The Home Secretary has halted Gary McKinnon's extradition to consider new medical evidence about the computer hacker's mental state.

The Asperger's victim had been told he could be sent to the U.S. - where he faces 60 years in jail for hacking into military computers - by the end of this month.

But in an unexpected move, Alan Johnson has stopped the extradition clock.

He has asked Home Office lawyers to consider the implications of fresh evidence about Mr McKinnon's state of psychiatric health

[...]

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said: 'The Home Secretary has sat on his hands for too long, even in the face of legal advice from leading advocates that contradicts the Home Office's position.

'This new psychiatric report into Gary McKinnon's condition must persuade him that it is no longer acceptable to shrug his shoulders and claim that nothing can be done.

'Alan Johnson should do the decent thing and intervene to ensure that Gary is tried in Britain, where he committed his crime and confessed to it.'

[...]

Mr Johnson's decision to stall the extradition is highly surprising as he has always insisted he is powerless to intervene in the case - a claim hotly contested by independent lawyers.

By halting the process, even temporarily, he appears to be conceding he is at least free to consider Mr McKinnon's plight.

Campaigners will point to the fact that, if he could do nothing, there would be no reason to even study the latest 60-page medical report.

The Home Office may, however, be seeking simply to take all possible steps to avoid further legal challenges.

Rejecting the evidence outright could prompt a judicial review, or action by the European Court of Human Rights.

The consequences of Mr Johnson's actions are that, at the very least, Mr McKinnon has been given more time to fight extradition.

[...]

Is this really just a "going through the motions" political delay, until after the Glasgow East by election, which is due to be held on the 12th November, where a Labour defeat might lead to some desperate Labour party supporters to call for Gordon Brown to step down as leader, in favour of Alan Johnson ?

The Daily Mail is a right of centre, politically powerful, daily newspaper, and it is wholeheartedly supporting Gary McKinnon in his legal fight against extradition to the USA, with today's front page article, and subsidiary articles, including their own online petition.

An affront to British Justice

Dear Home Secretary,

I believe the extradition of Gary McKinnon to the U.S. is unjust and inhumane because as an Asperger's sufferer a long prison sentence would be catastrophic for his mental health.

I urge you to use your discretion to allow him to be tried by an English court.


You can also contact Home Secretary Alan Johnson, independently of the Daily Mail:

You can send an email public.enquiries@ homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk or a letter to:

Home Secretary
Rt Hon. Alan Johnson MP
c/o Direct Communications Unit
Home Office
2 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DF

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