Non-binding Lib Dem report urges UK-US extradition treaty reform

The Guardian reports:

Gary McKinnon extradition case: Lib Dem report urges treaty change

As Theresa May prepares to decide on Gary McKinnon case, review ordered by Nick Clegg says extradition terms favour US

Daniel Boffey, Saturday 15 September 2012 20.42 BST

Theresa May, the home secretary, is under pressure to block the extradition of Gary McKinnon, who is wanted in the US over computer hacking charges, after a review of the treaty between the UK and US that was ordered by the deputy prime minister had urged that it be scrapped.

The review, commissioned by Nick Clegg and undertaken by the former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell, insists that the current extradition treaty overly favours America.

The finding directly contradicts the Scott Baker report ordered by May last year, which concluded that the Extradition Act was not biased, even though nine times as many Britons have been extradited as Americans.


Clegg was a staunch supporter of McKinnon while in opposition, although he has since been criticised by the 46-year-old's mother for failing to help her once he was in government.

Campbell's review, however, makes it clear that the extradition treaty enabling McKinnon's removal should be reformed by the government in the interests of public confidence. At the moment, "probable cause" has to be shown before a UK request for extradition of an American citizen will be granted. The reciprocal test for Britons is "reasonable suspicion".

The Scott Baker review concluded that there was no practical difference, but, in an online article for the Observer, Campbell, who is a QC, says: "With that conclusion I respectfully disagree. To put the matter as simply as I can, one may have a 'suspicion' that someone has committed a crime, but that is a different and lower standard than being satisfied that it is 'probable' that a crime was committed by that person.

"The proper course should be to raise the British standard to the American one, so that UK citizens do not suffer a disadvantage compared to their US equivalents."


May must make her decision on the McKinnon case by 16 October. In July, his mother pleaded outside court for the home secretary to "show a little bit of compassion" and rule sooner, but the appeal was rejected.

If May allows the extradition to go ahead, McKinnon's lawyers are expected to apply for a judicial review to challenge that decision.


Campbell has presented Clegg with his review and it is likely to be discussed publicly at Liberal Democrat conference next week. May is due to set out the government's thinking on the extradition treaty by the end of the year.

This review by Sir Menzies Cambell might be influential but is not binding on either the Liberal Deomcrats or the Conservative partners in the Coalition government.

The silence of the Labour party on this matter is also noteworthy and should also be probed - would they support such reform to the UK-US extration treaty and the repeal or reform of their notorious Extradition Act 2003, which has caused such injustice to so many people, regarding extradition without prima facie evidence to both the USA and to the European Union ?