Regular readers of this blog may recall my joining the chorus of voices codeming a treaty between the UK and the USA which allows British citizens to be extradicted to the USA for actions that are not criminal in the UK, having never been to the USA.
A case currently under consideration by the Home Secretary, Theresa May, is that of Garry McKinnon, who is wanted in the US over computer hacking charges.
A review of the treaty between the UK and US commissioned by Nick Clegg and undertaken by the former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell, insists that the current extradition treaty overly favours America and calls for it to be scrapped.
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.
May is yet to formally respond to that report, but will soon be making a decision on the fate of McKinnon. The Liberal Democrat intervention will be seen by some as an attempt to guide her hand in a case which has caught the public imagination.
McKinnon, who admits hacking US military computers but says he was looking for evidence of UFOs, could face up to 60 years in jail if he is successfully extradited and prosecuted.
Ming Campbell, who is a QC, says: “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.”
He adds: “If the present British government is to fulfil its duty to protect the rights of its citizens at home and abroad and at the same time meet its treaty obligations, such a change is both necessary and possible, not least to restore public confidence in Britain in the process of extradition between the United States and the United Kingdom.”