Gary McKinnon extradition case dragging on into its tenth year - High Court Judges set July time limit for Home Secretary to decide about the medical evidence

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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.