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

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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.