Sunday, 1 January 2012


E.Mail from Richard O'Dwyer supporter in Sheffield

Dear Mr Clegg,
It has come to my attention that a debate on reforming our extradition laws to strengthen the protection of British citizens is to take place on Monday 5 December 2011 in the Main Chamber at 3pm.  As your constituent, I am writing to request that you attend this debate and vote in favour of the motion that calls for a reform of the extradition laws in line with the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Human Rights 
The motion is as follows: “That this House calls upon the Government to reform the UK’s extradition arrangements  as a matter of urgency to strengthen the protection of British citizens: by introducing a Bill in Parliament to enact the safeguards recommended by the Joint Committee on Human Rights in its Fifteenth Report of 2010-12, 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 UK-US Extradition Treaty 2003 is imbalanced and allows British citizens accused of crimes allegedly committed in the UK to be extradited to the US without the US authorities having to demonstrate a prima facie case and without a UK trial being considered as the correct "Forum". A wide range of people from different backgrounds have found themselves ensnared by the Treaty including corporate bankers, terror suspects, alleged computer hackers and most recently a 23yr old University Student, Richard O'Dwyer on a charge of copyright infringement.
I would like you to speak at the debate and call for any changes in the law to apply to pending cases. It would appear immoral to allow individuals to be extradited under a Treaty which is subsequently agreed by our parliament to be so unfair such that it requires amendment.
I am aware that Sir Scott Baker recently said at a Lawyers debate on extradition that the government if it wishes to do so can  apply any changes made to the extradition arrangements retrospectively.  In other words there is no reason why pending cases should not benefit from any amendments to the Extradition arrangements.

In particular, I would like you to mention the case of Richard O’Dwyer, the 23yr old Sheffield Hallam University student accused of copyright infringement for making a website which provided links to films elsewhere on the internet. His actual website held no infringing content at all.

There are other pending cases of UK citizens being pursued aggressively by the US over “alleged” crimes committed on UK soil. One of those is the case of Babar Ahmad who has been imprisoned here in the UK for over 7 years without charge after first being brutally assaulted by the UK Police. Babar Ahmads supporters recently  submitted a government e petition with over 141,000 signatures calling for a Trial in the UK rather than being extradited to the US. Gary Mckinnon’s case you should be well aware of, again being sought for “crimes” committed on UK soil.Gary has already admitted to Computer Misuse, The case of retired businessman Christopher Tappin again accused of offences occurring on UK soil. Non of the above mentioned are seeking to evade justice they are merely asking that the correct place for any trial be in the UK where they were at all times and where any "alleged offences" took place.

• The JCHR called for the UK’s extradition laws to be amended to prevent the extradition of UK citizens in circumstances where the domestic authorities had decided not to prosecute them.
This is a crucial opportunity for Parliament to fix a law with unintended consequences.
In Richard O’Dwyer’s case the DPP has already stated that “the matter was not and still is not considered to be in the category of serious”. Extradition in this case is totally disproportionate to the “crime” and it is beyond belief that the UK would allow extradition to take place for what has been described as not serious.

I implore you, as my elected voice in parliament, to attend this important debate and vote in favour of changing the extradition laws such that they offer greater protection to British citizens such as Richard, Gary, Chris and Babar. 

Please respond to me with a copy of any correspondence or representations that you make regarding this matter.
Yours sincerely,



Thank you for your email expressing your concerns about the nature of the UK’s extradition arrangements with America. Nick has asked me to respond.
The Liberal Democrats have been vocal in our criticism of the ‘lopsided’ extradition arrangements between Britain and the US. We believe that the treaty puts the citizens of the United Kingdom in a disadvantaged position when compared with citizens of the United States.  That is why the Liberal Democrats proposed amendments to the Extradition Act in 2006 to protect the freedom and fair judicial treatment of British citizens. Sadly the previous Government refused to accept or act on these amendments.

The Treaty is wrong in principle. Extradition is based on reciprocity. For a state to give up one of its citizens to another jurisdiction can be justified only by the confident knowledge that citizens of both states have equal rights.

As you know, Sir Scott Baker (a former Lord Justice of Appeal) recently published a Government commissioned review of the Extradition Act. The review concluded that the Extradition Act was not biased and that there was no need for reform.

You may be pleased to know that Nick has asked Sir Menzies Campbell QC to lead a Liberal Democrat review of the current extradition arrangements. Amongst many issues, the panel will consider the need to introduce a ‘forum bar’ which would give judges more discretion in deciding whether it is in the interests of justice for cases to be tried in the UK, such as the case involving Gary McKinnon.

I trust this is helpful.
Yours sincerely

Barbara Masters

On behalf of:-

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