This week there has been quite a lot of media covearage about the Private Prosecution in the Babar Ahmad extradition case, which has several points of similarity with the Gary McKinnon case - no UK prosecution or even charges, no physical presence in the USA, but an extradition demand to the USA without any prima facie evidence cross examined in a UK court etc..

The BBC reports:

Terror suspect Babar Ahmad faces possible private trial

By Dominic Casciani Home affairs correspondent

[...]

A British businessman has told the BBC he wants to bring a private prosecution against two UK terrorism suspects.

Karl Watkin said he wanted to prosecute Babar Ahmad and Talha Ahsan, rather than them face extradition to the US.

Mr Ahmad has been detained without trial for a record eight years. The US accuse him and Mr Ahsan of running a major jihadist website.

The men are understood to have confirmed involvement in the UK website - but have not admitted offences.

Mr Ahmad and Mr Ahsan are accused of involvement in Azzam.com, a website and publishing business which between 1996 and 2002 was at the heart of the radicalisation of English-speaking Muslims.

Although the website was based and operated from London, it was technically hosted in the US.

Neither of the suspects has been charged with an offence in the UK relating to Azzam, despite the fact that the investigation by US authorities includes evidence seized by the Metropolitan Police. The CPS has refused to prosecute Mr Ahmad or Mr Ahsan and has rejected calls by the men's lawyer to review that decision.

[...]

The lawyers have also written to the Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer QC, asking his permission for a private prosecution under terrorism laws.

Anyone can bring a private prosecution if they can prove that it is in the public interest to do so. The DPP has the power to intervene to take on the case or to stop it.

If the DPP or a judge were to halt the proposed proceedings, the decision could face legal challenge, potentially halting the extradition.

[...]

Since the Crown Prosecution Servvice determined that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute under UK law, it would be astonishing if they were to change their minds now.

It is very likely that the Director of Public Prosecutions will refuse permission for a Private Prosecution. so the Kafakaesque bureacratic legal nightmare for Babar Ahmad and for Gary McKinnon will grind on until the Coalition Government politicians actually stop dithering and fulfil their pre-election promises to repeal or drastically reform Labour's appalling Extradition Act 2003.

If the DPP Keir Starmer did allow a Private Prosecution in a case regarding a UK controlled website, then that could open up another hugely controversy, as it will allow rich and / or evil people to censor any website they object to through this mechanism. Even if they have no hope of winning the case, the threat of crippling legal costs will have a chilling effect on free speech on the operators of such websites, much as the still as yet unreformed Libel laws do now. (c.f. the Defamation Bill currently going through Parliament)

The Daily Mail reports:

Gary McKinnon's agony due to drag on as extradition decision won't be made until the autumn

By Michael Seamark

PUBLISHED: 01:39, 25 July 2012 | UPDATED: 08:43, 25 July 2012

[...]

Lawyers representing Theresa May told the High Court she would decide 'on or around October 16' whether Mr McKinnon, 46, would be sent to the US to stand trial.

Hugo Keith QC cited the Home Secretary's 'all-consuming' involvement in the Olympic Games as one reason for the delay.

Medical experts say Mr McKinnon, who has Asperger's syndrome, may kill himself if he is sent abroad.

His mother Janis Sharp said yesterday: 'The evidence is there that Gary is unfit for trial and a considerable suicide risk.

'We need this decision. This delay is wrong - morally wrong.'

[...]

Hugo Keith QC, representing Mrs May, told the High Court she needed time to consider three new medical reports submitted by lawyers representing Mr McKinnon and wanted to announce her decision ' on or around October 16' once Parliament is sitting.

He also cited the Home Secretary's ' increasing and now all-consuming involvement in the Olympic Games - the biggest peacetime operation since the Second World War.'

But Mrs Sharp said: ' If Theresa May has got an ounce of compassion she would make her decision now before the Olympics because she has any number of medical reports - these delays are destroying my son's life.

' There is already enough evidence from two Home Office-approved experts - one appointed by the Home Secretary - and there is another four in all.

'She should show a little bit of compassion. Gary cannot cope any more.

The Olympics is an opportunity for a country to show its heart and courage to the World and giving a vulnerable man like Gary his freedom from ten years of mental torture would have shown the best side of who we are as a nation.'

Are we seriously meant to believe that every working hour of Theresa May's day is taken up by mismangement of the Olympics security ?

If she really is so obsessed and cannot delegate to trusted subordinates, she should resign as Home Secretary.

Remember that this case has already been mishandled by no fewer than 5 previous (Labour) Home Secretaries: David Blunkett, Charles Clarke, John Reid, Jacqui Smith & Alan Johnson


Tommorow Thursday 5th July 2012, the long running scandal of the Gary McKinnon extradition to the USA case goes before the High Court, at the Royal Courts of Justice in the Strand, yet again:

Royal Courts of Justice Cause List

COURT 3
Before SIR JOHN THOMAS PQBD and MR JUSTICE MITTING
Thursday 5 July, 2012
At half past 10

APPLICATION(s)
CO/15072/2009 The Queen on the application of Mckinnon v Secretary Of State For Home Department
FOR HEARING
CO/3940/2011 Naseer v Government Of The United States Of America


It seems unlikely that any decision regarding the Judicial Review granted back in January 2012 will actually be made public tomorrow, but anything could happen in this extraordinary, 10 year long legal case.

c.f. Order by the Honourable Mr Justice Mitting granting permission for Judicial review of the Gary McKinnon extradition to the USA case .

When will the pe-election promises by the hapless Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition government politicians be carried out ?
.

There have been several vocal and entirely peaceful public demonstrations in support of Gary McKinnon and others who are victims of the the appalling Extradition Act 2003.

The latest demonstration will be:

Time: this afternoon Saturday 23rd June 2012 between 1pm and 3pm

Location: outside of Downing Street in London,

Nearest Tube: Westminster

Media contacts: Janis Sharp via Twitter@JanisSharp

@JanisSharp

The sun is shining in London. We need your voices outside number 10 Downing St. 1-3pm today/Sat. to stand up for ‪#civilLiberties‬ ‪#FreeGary

Some tips and advice about demonstrations in central London:

The Home Affairs Committee published Yet Another Report on Extradition on Friday 31st March 2012t:

This says nothing new about the United Kingdom's unique extradition arrangement with the United States of America,

20. Mr Bermingham told us that the UK is one of only three countries in which the US does not have to produce prima facie evidence for extradition. The others are France, which will not extradite its own citizens to the USA, and the Republic of Ireland, which has a higher forum test than the UK.[32] Witnesses from Fair Trials International, JUSTICE and Liberty all argued that there should be a prima facie evidence test for extradition from the UK.[33]

This has all been said before, by the current Conservative and Liberal Democrat Ministers, when they were in Opposition to the previous Labour government.

7. The Committee is proposing significant changes to the extradition arrangements between the US and the UK not because we are critical of the American justice system but because we recognise the importance of robust extradition arrangements between our two countries. Such extradition arrangements are now threatened by loss of public confidence in the UK and there is a risk that, with time, that lack of confidence will translate into wider disaffection. We believe that the Government should act now to restore public faith in the Treaty by rebalancing the requirements for the provision of information, urgently opening negotiations about the re-introduction of an evidence test, and introducing a forum bar. The Committee believes that these changes will allow for a fair and balanced system of justice between the US and the UK as regards extradition. (Paragraph 36)

This Extradition scandal has already caused a "loss of public confidence" which is continuing to generate "wider disaffection" both with the UK political "elite" and with the United States government and people.

Any changes to the Treaty and to the notorious Extradition Act 2003 will come too late for those who are currently suffering the Kafkaesque bureacratic and political nightmare right now e.g.. Gary McKinnon, Babar Ahmad, Richard O'Dwyer etc.

However, the Government could, as a first step, immediatly Commence by Order the existing forum bar legislation which has already been passed by Parliament, but which both they and the previous Labour government have deliberately ignored for the last 6 years:

27. There is a provision in the Police and Justice Act 2006 which amends the Extradition Act 2003 to introduce a forum bar. Section 83A provides that:

(1) A person's extradition to a category 2 territory ("the requesting territory") is barred by reason of forum if (and only if) it appears that--

(a) a significant part of the conduct alleged to constitute the extradition offence is conduct in the United Kingdom, and

(b) in view of that and all the other circumstances, it would not be in the interests of justice for the person to be tried for the offence in the requesting territory.

(2)For the purposes of subsection (1)(b) the judge must take into account whether the relevant prosecution authorities in the United Kingdom have decided not to take proceedings against the person in respect of the conduct in question.[38]

This provision was inserted by an Opposition amendment in the House of Lords and it has not yet been commenced. The Secretary of State is not required to bring the provision into force unless a resolution to that effect is passed by both Houses of Parliament, though she may do so without such resolutions.[39]

One suspicious and unwelcome feature in this Report is the prominence which they give to the Annex: Statement to the Committee by United States Ambassador Louis B. Sussman

Why is this Statement (which misleads through ommission) displayed, as part of the Conclusions, so much more promininttly than any of the other Written or Oral Evidence given to the Committee, including that from the British Prime Minister and the Home Secretary ?


Back in July 2010 we reported PM David Cameron raises the Gary McKinnon extradition case with President Barack Obama

Today the BBC reports:

Cameron wants review of UK-US extradition rules

14 March 2012 Last updated at 17:44

David Cameron has said he wants to review how extradition arrangements are working between the UK and US in the light of recent controversial cases.

The prime minister raised the subject during talks with US President Barack Obama at the White House.

[...]

The BBC's political editor Nick Robinson said Mr Cameron had raised the issue about how extradition rules are operating in practice during two hours of talks at the White House on Wednesday. The prime minister is in the middle on a three-day official visit to the United States.

[...]

2003 treaty

Concerns have been raised about the 2003 US-UK extradition treaty following controversial cases involving British citizens such as Christopher Tappin and Gary McKinnon.

Concerns have been raised about the 2003 US-UK extradition treaty following controversial cases involving British citizens such as Christopher Tappin and Gary McKinnon.

[...]

Mr Tappin, a retired businessman, was extradited to the US last month for allegedly selling batteries for Iranian missiles, charges he denies.

He says he has been treated unfairly by the UK justice system and his human rights have been breached - although the extradition request was authorised by the home secretary and later approved by the High Court and Court of Appeal.

Mr McKinnon faces extradition to the US on charges of hacking into US military computer systems and endangering national security.

No !!

You would have thought that after 10 years of interviews and reporting by the BBC, they would get important details like this correct by now.

There are no allegations whatsoever against Gary McKinnon about "endangering national security"

He is not charged with any espionage or terrorism offences.

The US prosecuters e.g. Paul J. McNulty, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, were at pains to point this out back in 2002, to reassure the public that Gary was working alone, with no foreign intelliegence agency or terrorist or organised crime connections whatsoever and that national security had not been compromised.

He admits hacking into Pentagon and Nasa computers but says he was looking for evidence of UFOs.

His family have fought a long campaign against his extradition, saying Mr McKinnon - who suffers from Asperger's syndrome - is highly vulnerable and sending him for trial in the US could seriously damage his health.

[...]

So what have Cameron and Obama actually done about the notorious US / UK Extradition arrangements over the last 20 months ?

Nothing tangible at all - the Guantanamo Bay concentation camp is stilloperating and the Extradition Act 2003 is still in force.

The Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition Government have not even bothered to Commence the slightly amended Extradition Act 2003 section 19B Forum for Category 1 territories and the identically worded Extradition Act 2003 section 83A Forum for Category 2 territories (including the USA).

which they managed to get from the grudging Labour control freaks in the previous government, which would allow a UK Judge the leeway to give proper conderation of "legal forum":

83A Forum

(1)A person's extradition to a category 2 territory ("the requesting territory") is barred by reason of forum if (and only if) it appears that--

(a)a significant part of the conduct alleged to constitute the extradition offence is conduct in the United Kingdom, and

(b)in view of that and all the other circumstances, it would not be in the interests of justice for the person to be tried for the offence in the requesting territory.

(2)For the purposes of subsection (1)(b) the judge must take into account whether the relevant prosecution authorities in the United Kingdom have decided not to take proceedings against the person in respect of the conduct in question.

(3)This section does not apply if the person is alleged to be unlawfully at large after conviction of the extradition offence

This perfectly sensible amendment to the original Act, was made via the Police and Justice Act 2006 Schedule 13 paragraph 5 (2), has deliberatley still not yet been brought into force by either the previous Labour or the current Coalition governments, even after over 5 years laying dormant on the Statute Book.


Oral Answers to Questions -- Prime Minister
11:30 am 22 February2012

HC Deb, 22 February 2012, c873

Jo Johnson (Orpington, Conservative)

On Friday, United States marshals will escort my 65-year-old constituent Chris Tappin from Heathrow to a jail in Texas, where he will face pressure to plea bargain in order to avoid lengthy incarceration pending a financially ruinous trial for a crime that he insists he did not commit. What steps is the Prime Minister considering to reform the US-UK extradition treaty, which has been so unfair to the likes of Gary McKinnon and, now, my constituent Mr Tappin?

David Cameron (Prime Minister; Witney, Conservative)

I quite understand why my hon. Friend has raised the case of his constituent. Obviously Chris Tappin has been through a number of processes, including those of the magistrates court and the High Court, and the Home Secretary has thoroughly considered his case.

My hon. Friend has also raised the more general issue of Sir Scott Baker's report on the extradition arrangements, which he has completed and which we are now considering. He did not call for fundamental reform, but my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will examine his findings carefully, and will also take into account the views of Parliament that have been expressed in recent debates. Of course, balancing the arguments is vital, but I think it important for us to remember at the same time why we enter into these extradition treaties: to show respect for each other's judicial processes, and to make sure that people who are accused of crimes can be tried for those crimes--and Britain can benefit from that as well. A proper, sober, thoughtful review needs to take place, and this case shows why.

A carefully worded re-iteration by the Prime Minister that the controversial Scott Baker report is not completely the last word in determining government policy on future extradition policy (which will only affect future cases, not that of Gary McKiinnon or Chris Tappin etc.)

This delay in making a decision on extradition policy must be purely political.

Gary McKinnon's mother Janis Sharp and other supporters were at No. 10 Downing Street this afternoon, to hand in the Poems written for Gary c.f.

http://www.poeticjustice4gary.co.uk/

They also handed in a copy of the book Gang of One: How One of the NatWest Three Survived Extradition and Life in a Texas Prison by Gary Mulgrew, whose similar high profile extradition case was another betrayal of British justice.

This is now the Tenth year, that this supposedly "fast track" extradition to the USA legal case has been dragging on so unnecessarily - Gary could and should have been tried in a UK Court.

When will the Conservative / Liberal Democrat coalition government politicians keep the promises of support they made before the General Election, to Gary and to his supporters ?

The Daily Telegraph reports that:

Judges try to speed up Gary McKinnon extradition case

The High Court expressed concern today over the length of time it is taking the long-running case of computer hacker Gary McKinnon to come back to court.

10:19AM GMT 27 Jan 2012

Two judges attempted to speed matters up by listing it for a hearing in July.

They acted after hearing that the Home Secretary is ''considering afresh'' whether Asperger's sufferer McKinnon should be extradited to the US to face trial for hacking into top secret US military computers in 2002.

Edward Fitzgerald QC, appearing for McKinnon, told the judges it was hoped Theresa May would now block US government extradition moves so there would be no more need for court action.

The evidence of medical experts before her showed McKinnon, 45, was ''suffering from a serious mental disorder and there is a serious risk of suicide if extradited''.

Mr Fitzgerald said of the marathon case: ''We hope it will never come back to court.''

[...]

Arrested in June 2005, an order for extradition was made against him in July 2006 at the request of the US government under the 2003 Extradition Act.

The move has triggered three successive applications for judicial review which have made headlines over the years and called into question the fairness of extradition laws, in particular the UK-US extradition treaty, which critics have condemned as "one-sided" in favour of the Americans.

The latest legal challenge to the 2006 extradition order was launched early in 2010 but adjourned for a new home secretary to investigate the issues.

Today Lord Justice Richards, sitting with Mr Justice Cranston, said the case had been "dragging on for a very long time" but could not be allowed to drag on indefinitely.

Hugo Keith QC, appearing for the Home Secretary, said the long delays were caused by the change of government, the new Home Secretary's decision to look at the case afresh and difficulties in gathering new psychiatric evidence.

Mr Keith told the judges he was not inviting a time limit for a full hearing as fresh evidence was still being assembled to put before the minister.

It was not known how complex that would be, and she would no doubt want to seek legal advice before finally deciding whether or not extradition should still go ahead.

Mr Keith said: "She does acknowledge the very considerable lapse of time already passed in this case.

"She will, of course, immediately turn to considering her position when these representations have been received."

Mr Fitzgerald told the court that, on McKinnon's side, "we are very grateful to have her reconsider the whole matter in the light of further psychiatric evidence and further representations.

"We are content that the Secretary of State should give this matter her anxious scrutiny and would not wish to hurry her."

Lord Justice Richards said he was fixing a hearing date in July "to concentrate minds".

He said: "It would just drag on indefinitely, allowing the Secretary of State an indefinite period for further decision-making".

The judge laid down a timetable for the exchange between the parties of new evidence and experts' reports to achieve the July deadline.

He said the case, if a hearing is still necessary by then, should be heard by two judges, with a time estimate of two days.

ZDNet reports:

Judge lights fire under McKinnon proceedings

By Tom Espiner, ZDNet UK, 27 January, 2012 14:23

[...]

The Home Office has appointed two medical experts to provide evidence about McKinnon's psychological state, and whether his medical condition puts him at risk of suicide should he be extradited, Lord Justice Richards and Mr Justice Cranston were told on Friday.

Professor Declan Murphy and Professor Thomas Fahy of Kings College, London were appointed by the Home Office in November to judge McKinnon's psychological state, McKinnon's solicitor Karen Todner told ZDNet UK.

Murphy has met McKinnon, but Fahy has not yet examined the self-confessed hacker, who was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome in 2008. The two experts have been considering medical evidence since November 2011, according to Todner.

Richards said the psychiatric experts must submit their report to McKinnon's legal team by 24 February. The defence team then has until 23 March to make representations to home secretary Theresa May, who must decide whether McKinnon's medical condition and psychological state put him at risk of suicide.

May can halt McKinnon's extradition under Articles 2 and 3 of the Convention on Human Rights, Todner said. If the home secretary decides not to halt the extradition, the hearing in July will go ahead as a judicial review of the home secretary's decision.

Tonight, Conservive MP for Esher and Walton was granted a Debate on Extradition on the floor of the House of Commons , following the less important one he secured in Westminster Hall on 24th November.

Business >House of Commons, Session 2010-12, Order of Business Monday 5 December 2011

That this House calls upon the Government to reform the UK's extradition arrangements to strengthen the protection of British citizens by introducing as a matter of urgency a Bill to enact the safeguards recommended by the Joint Committee on Human Rights in its Fifteenth Report, HC 767, and by pursuing such amendments to the UK-US Extradition Treaty 2003 and the EU Council Framework Decision 2002 on the European Arrest Warrant as are necessary in order to give effect to such recommendations.

The Chamber of the House of Commons was poorly attended, and both the Gary McKinnon and Babar Ahmad cases were mentioned in detail by their constituency MPs and by the Conservative Immigration Minsiter Damian Green (who also replied for the Government in the Westmninster Hall debate).

There were some shocking examples of "rough justice" invoilving the European Arrest Warrant given by other Constituency MPs.

Even the appallingly authoritarian and incompetent former Labour Home Secretary David Blunkett spoke in the debate. He is personally resposible for rubber stamping the new US / UK extradition treaty through (he signed it on behalf of the UK, before the text of it was even shown to Parliament or the British public) and for the Extradition Act 2003 (Tony Blair's Labour Government had a big majority and the Official Opposition was pathetic). This was enacted in 2040 and applied retrospectively to Gary McKinnon case, who was arrested in 2002.

Blunkett recounted some of his efforts to get Gary McKinnon tried via video link in a court in the USA, but physically in the UK, something which would require a complete change of US legislation and which was obviously doomed to failure (there are no such arrangements for video link trial to British courts to foreign countries either).

At the end, the Debate was "voted on" by the House of Commons orally, by acclamation, with no audible voices of dissent: "The Ayes have it, the Ayes have it"

This means that there is no record of how individual MPs actually voted or abstained or were not present for the debate.

This vote does not bind the Government to actually do anything.

The transcript of this Debate are avialable online: UK Extradition Arrangements, UK Extradition Arrangements, Backbench Business, 6:48 pm 5th December 2011

Have the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government politicians delivered on their pre-election promises regarding reform of Extradition practices ? Clearly the answer is still not yet

Will there be any rapid resolution of the Gary McKinnon or Babar Ahmad or other Extradition cases mentioned today during the debate ? No - the current Government claims to be doing everything it can already (just like the previous Labour government pretended to).