Home Secretary Alan Johnson has previously insisted that his hands were tied, that he was legally unable to intervene in the extradition of Gary McKinnon to the US. However in his meeting this week with David Davis, Michael Meacher and Chris Huhne he changed his tune:
“[Johnson] did accept that it would be possible for him to intervene and that it wasn’t unlawful for him to intervene, but claimed the limits of his discretion meant he had to be governed by law and precedents,” said [Meacher's] spokesman. “He was concerned that precedents would be set for terrorists.”
In a blog post on Wednesday, Meacher said Johnson felt his scope for intervention was narrowed by Article 3 of the Convention on Human Rights, which limits interference in extradition to cases where the subject is at real risk of execution, torture, or inhuman or degrading treatment.
The three politicians came away from the meeting feeling that Johnson had been prepared to listen to their case, and that it “wasn’t the end of the road”, Meacher’s spokesman said.
The group of MPs is now trying to meet the US Ambassador to try to get the US government to withdraw extradition proceedings on human rights grounds. The Department of Public Prosecutions believes McKinnon doesn’t have a case to answer in the UK and that the case won’t stand up in a US court; Johnson should use his powers to step in and end this circus. So he believes the precedent would aid terrorists, but I don’t accept for a moment that a UFO-obsessed computer hacker with Asperger’s Syndrome is a legitimate sacrifice to the continuing ‘war on terror’.
Home Secretary Alan Johnson may believe he doesn’t have the power to prevent Gary McKinnon’s extradition under the Extradition Act 2003, but many MPs believe otherwise and are working to change his mind:
A delegation of three Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat members will tell Mr Johnson in a meeting at the Home Office that he has the “power and the duty” to step in to prevent Mr McKinnon, who suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism, being sent for trial in the United States.
David Davis, the former Shadow Home Secretary, the Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne and Michael Meacher, the former Labour minister, are joining forces to urge a rethink.
They will present Mr Johnson with a detailed legal opinion challenging the Government’s claim that it has no power to intervene in the extradition which has already been agreed by the courts.
It appears Matrix Chambers believe that the courts have primary, but not exclusive responsibility in extradition cases. McKinnon’s extradition would clearly be unjust, considering his Asperger’s Syndrome diagnosis it would also be a breach of his human right, and conducted under a law never voted on by parliament. Johnson should block the extradition, and confirm an immediate review of this seriously flawed legislation.