Extradition treaty between the UK and US not fair say Lib. Dems.
Current extradition treaty between the UK and the US favours Americans and should be changed says new report from the Liberal Democrats.
The report is a product of a review ordered by the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and conducted by the former Liberal Democrat Leader Sir Menzies Campbell – who concluded that Britons are not getting the same protection as their American counterparts under the treaty.
The report comes at a time when the Home Secretary Theresa May is considering whether to allow Gary McKinnon to be extradited to the US for hacking into computer systems. Last year, a review ordered by Home Secretary came to a completely different conclusion.
The Scott Baker review concluded that the extradition treaty is fair and citizens of both countries get equal protection. However, Ming Campbell, who is also a QC, disagrees with the assessment.
He points out that while to extradite an American citizen the British government has to demonstrate ”probably cause” – the American prosecutors only has to demonstrate "reasonable suspicion".
The Baker review concluded technically prosecutors in both countries have to meet the same legal threshold however Campbell says its simply not the case.
“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,” he said. “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."
Campbell also raised concerns about the lack of confidence the British public has in the extradition treaty after a series of extraditions such as the Natwest bankers and so forth.
The Liberal Democrats in opposition have been a big supporter of Gary McKinnon and wanted his extradition stopped especially since they feel his human rights would be violated in the United States, The Campbell report being published right before the party conference season means that May will be under pressure to block the extradition.
"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," Campbell wrote in his article in the Guardian online recently.