It’s outrageous that Britons can be seized from their homes and imprisoned in a foreign country at the whim of that country’s lawyers, says David Davis in The Mail on Sunday. But that’s what’s happening. The UK is more prepared than almost any other nation to “surrender” its citizens to overseas courts. It doesn’t even insist on reciprocity: in recent years, 10 times as many Britons have been extradited to the US as Americans to Britain. The most egregious example is Washington’s refusal to allow intelligence official Anne Sacoolas to face justice here, even though she has been charged with killing a teenager by dangerous driving. Last week, however, a London judge agreed to extradite one of our most successful entrepreneurs, Mike Lynch, to the US.
A decade ago Lynch sold his software firm, Autonomy, to US giant Hewlett-Packard for £8bn. The deal went sour and US authorities now want Lynch to stand trial for fraudulently inflating the company’s value, which he “strongly denies”. Surely the least Lynch deserves is a fair trial in the UK, especially given that his firm was based in Britain and the “ferocious” American legal system, in which prosecutors set the sentences, has a 97% conviction rate. A British judge, however, has ruled that it is in “the interests of justice” to send him to the US. Our current extradition system, rushed in by Tony Blair to tackle terrorism after 9/11, is a travesty. Home Secretary Priti Patel must not submit to this “grotesque and unjust process”.
Why it matters Lynch is not the first Brit to be treated like this. In 2006 three NatWest employees were extradited to the US over alleged dodgy dealings with Enron. One, Giles Darby, ended up in solitary confinement. And Gary McKinnon was accused by US prosecutors of carrying out “the biggest military computer hack of all time”. He faced a possible 70-year prison sentence until then Home Secretary Theresa May stepped in to block his extradition in 2012.