‘I gave too much away’: David Blunkett’s startling admission on UK-U.S. extradition treaty
Last updated at 7:08 AM on 3rd September 2010
David Blunkett, the Cabinet minister who signed Labour’s controversial Extradition Act, admitted yesterday that he may have ‘given too much away’ to the Americans.
The Act, which opponents say is biased against British citizens, is being used to extradite Gary McKinnon, who has Asperger’s, for computer hacking.
The last government stubbornly insisted there was nothing wrong with the Act, while rejecting overwhelming support for Mr McKinnon to be tried in the UK.
Admitting error: Former Home Secretary David Blunkett, left, said he ‘gave too much away’ when negotiating the extradition treaty with the US, a move which has led to the extradition case involving alleged hacker Gary McKinnon
But Mr Blunkett, who was Home Secretary when the Act was signed,
yesterday broke ranks to express serious misgivings about the law.
He said: ‘I’m being honest about looking at something seven years on
and saying it wasn’t perfect. Of course we can look back and say we
could have done better.’
Critics say the Act is lopsided because British citizens are not
given the same legal protection as their American counterparts.
If the U.S. government wants to extradite a UK citizen it needs only
to outline the alleged offence, the punishment specified by statute and
provide an accurate description of the suspect.
But to extradite an American from the States, Britain must prove
that the wanted individual has probably committed a crime, a much
Critical: Janis Sharp, pictured with her son Gary McKinnon, welcomed the admission by David Blunkett and said the treaty had ruined their lives
Mr Blunkett told BBC Radio Four’s The Report: ‘In theoretical terms,
I think there is still a debate – and I’m prepared to concede this
– about whether we gave away too much.’
The admission could make it easier for the Coalition to change the
Act. Ministers will be able to point out that even its own architect is
now having misgivings.
Speaking to the Mail, Mr Blunkett-also called for a debate over
trying people in the UK if that is where most of their crimes were
committed – which is the case with Mr McKinnon.
Accused: US authorities want Gary McKinnon to stand trial for allegedly hacking into defence computer systems
Last night Mr McKinnon’s mother Janis Sharp said: ‘It’s good to hear
that David Blunkett has the honesty and decency to admit that mistakes
were made about the extradition treaty with the U.S. and Europe and
that he realises that he gave too much away.
‘This has left British citizens especially vulnerable and the treaty
is all too often being used frivolously and not for the serious crimes
we were led to believe it was intended for. The past eight years of
stress has ruined Gary’s life and his mental health has deteriorated
greatly. Our lives have also been ruined.’
The Coalition is about to begin a full review of the Act.
Home Secretary Theresa May has granted a temporary reprieve to Mr
McKinnon, whom Labour had agreed to send to the U.S. to face a possible
60-year jail term under the Act for allegedly hacking into 97 United
States military and NASA computer systems.
Mrs May said Gary’s court case would be adjourned while she
considers new medical evidence about the fragile mental state of the
44-year-old, who was searching for evidence of alien life when he
hacked into NASA and Pentagon computers.
Campaigners hope the review of the one-sided Act, a focus of the
Mail’s Affront to British Justice campaign, will unravel the mess
created by Labour.
UK courts are approving 89 per cent of U.S. extradition requests. By
comparison, only seven in ten requests to the Americans by the British
authorities are granted, according to analysis by the Liberal
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So you state now, Mr Blunkett. But when you were in the Office of Home Secretary, you were just as clueless and useless as all your Labour colleagues who held that post. You probably caved into Mr Blair’s demands that the UK be ‘Nice and Friendly’ to the one way demands of the Clinton and Bush administrations.
After all, Mr Blair had some sort of ‘Shock & Awe’ affair with the Clinton’s and the Bush’s, and was overwhelmed by it all (Maybe something to with being Mega-Rich?)
– Mr I Grumble, Raddled Victor Meldrew of Old Blighty’s Shore East Anglia England UK (EU-SSR-Lan, 03/9/2010 10:42
obviously he couldn’t see that he had gone too far after all you don’t see much when you’ve got your head buried up America’s backside , the frightening thing is that this fool was one of the people in charge of our once great country
– beachboy, calahonda spain, 03/9/2010 10:40
Of course you gave too much away as did Blair, Gordon and the rest of your party. You idiots.
– Nick, Lymington, 03/9/2010 10:40
These treaties are only pieces of paper – and if they don’t seem fair then why do we continue to adhere to them. Surely we can just rip them up and say we want to start again. We are a soveriegn country – why should we continue to cow-tow to others. If the USA or others have a problem with that, then let them sort it out. What they going to do – bomb us?
Rip up the treaty and whilst your at it bin the Yuman Rites treaty as well. Let’s run our own affairs and tell the EU and the Yanks to go away.
– aargonaut, Birmingham, 03/9/2010 10:33
Why are people so determined to stop a criminal facing justice (and before you start, no this is not about guilt or innocence, you’d be sprouting exactly the same rubbish if the trial had already been held and he was being extradited to serve his sentence)!? The BS aspergers (utter and complete abuse of Human Rights leglisation) defence was made up long after the fact to pull at the public’s heart strings – millions of aspergers sufferers survie just fine without breaking the law and hundreds serve prison sentences as well as other prisoners. For god’s sake we sent a mass murdering terrorist home to hero’s welcome in LIbya, and now we’re waxing lyrical about poor old Gary McKinnon? If it’d been an American facing British justice – you’d all be baying for his blood – broken, broken Britain – the true shame of the world. Exradite – let justice serve its course and stop trying to be so high and mighty – we are not!
– Incensed, London, 03/9/2010 10:26
I fear for this country more than ever. Not only did we have to succumb to too many years of Labour, we now have more liars and hypocrits on the public stage! Who are the lunatics voting for these people? I expect when Cameron and Clegg have done their ‘bit’, more books will be on sale containing absolutely no essence, just excuses and drivel.
Can we have some good news for a change DM. The good news would be: immigration stopped for 10 years; banks forced to pay back government money; NHS saved – all immigrants must take out their own private health plan until they have supported the NHS for at least 10 years; human rights act revised and replaced; come out of the EU – the list is endless.
I’d like to see a government who looks after their ‘home’ interests for a change. Blair just loved and still loves the international stage. He is loathsome.
– kate, w sussex, 03/9/2010 10:24
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