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Nigel Farage, Leader of Ukip and a Kent MEP
Friday, March 9, 2012
UK government has failed Christopher Tappin
I’m absolutely appalled that Christopher Tappin has been denied bail but even more so that the Home Secretary has done absolutely nothing to help the situation. A few weeks ago, I wrote to Theresa May to ask her, nay plead with her, to put the case for bail to the US Justice Department; but answers there were none, and now we know that 65 year old Mr Tappin, with an unblemished record and a successful business history, will stay locked in a stark, violent, American prison until his trial.
Things are going from bad to worse for Christopher Tappin. The hardworking grandfather from Orpington was described as “a danger to the community” by US prosecutors, and this led to Judge Robert Casteneda’s refusal of bail .
The British government is making no effort whatsoever. In its election manifesto, the Conservative Party pledged to reform the current extradition-agreement with the United States; and yet, once “in power”, it conveniently concluded tat the arrangements were perfectly satisfactory.
Judging by the number of people who have contacted me - and spoken out against the appalling decision by the Home Secretary to allow Mr Tappin to be extradited to a country, where plea bargains have eroded the justice system - there is a crying need for this agreement to be revised.
As with the monstrous European Arrest Warrant, it goes against centuries of British justice that, at the order of a foreign magistrate, a British subject can be deported to face trial abroad, without prima facie evidence being produced against him. For committal to trial in the UK, the prosecution is always required to present prima facie evidence of all of the essential facts of its case. If it cannot, its case will be dismissed without any need for a response from the defence.
Thus, the very basis of our legal system is completely abolished by these extradition arrangements. In another example - this time by order of a European Arrest Warrant - based simply on the signature of a Greek magistrate - British student Andrew Symeou was shipped off to Greece and held in custody for over a year, before coming to trial. He was found not guilty, as one glance at the evidence would have shown, months before, that he was.
And now Mr Tappin has been refused bail, he faces the awful dilemma of waiting years in prison for a trial, knowing his defence will cost upwards of $1 million, knowing that his witnesses will not want to risk being arrested themselves if they travel to the States to testify, and knowing that, if he is found guilty – after all the Americans will want a result after extraditing him – he faces life in prison and probably dying in jail, unless he accepts a plea bargain.
If he pleads guilty to a lesser charge, then he could serve only a few years in jail and, hopefully, be back in the UK in time to continue caring for his ill wife. He will, of course, have a criminal record, without having committed any crime. This is the system, which has undermined American justice and flung it back into the Dark Ages.
All this has become the vile reality for Mr Tappin, and his family, because of the inaction of Theresa May, and the government, who defend the right of terrorists and do nothing to look after their own hardworking, loyal, tax-paying nationals.
Anyone who wishes to show their support for Mr Tappin and his family, and to show that they want these extradition arrangements to conform to our own laws, should sign up to the petition I have set up at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/30569.
Mr Cameron is meeting President Obama on the 13 March. Let’s ensure he has a strong message from us, before he goes, that we want change, and we want justice for Mr Tappin.
Nigel Farage is the leader of Ukip and a Kent MEP. He lives in Sevenoaks.