back to article Halting McKinnon extradition not in our power, says Clegg

Halting the extradition of Gary McKinnon to the United States isn't within the power of Britain's government leaders, Nick Clegg has suggested. Speaking about the controversial proceedings for the first time since becoming deputy prime minister, Clegg dropped a bombshell on McKinnon supporters arguing the forced transfer would …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    politician tells lies

    what a shock

    the Lib Dems have been given a chance - fail to make the most of it and they will be a politically dead force for decades

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Hold on a mo

      OK, so Nick Clegg said that there was nothing that could be done about this, but look at how he said it. He clearly wasn't comfortable with what he had to say. Was this because he's completely reversed his previous ideas about stopping this? Possibly. Was it because he's been told that the extradition won't be reversed? Almost certainly. Before kicking the LibDems, you should consider two things in relation to this:

      1) It is supposed to be Theresa May (the Conservative Home Secretary) that's sorting this out.

      2) The LibDems are by far and away the minority stake(power)holder in this new government.

      If your attitude is held up by others, then maybe this is the first sign of the Conservatives managing to get the LibDems to take the blame for *their* failures.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon


        "2) The LibDems are by far and away the minority stake(power)holder in this new government."

        For a second there I thought you were going to say that they [LibDems] were the lightning rod in this new governement. But you didn't. As you were.

      2. john loader

        But William Hague said..

        I asked William Hague as my MP about the unfair extradition treaty wit the US and he said he would change it if he became Foreign Secretary (he cited Australia as another where the terms are not reciprocal). All William has to do is rescind the treaty and go back to the old rules.

        Wake up William - I can probably find teh letter where you said this.

  2. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    The Boy Wonder Stumbles ...

    ""What I haven't got the power to do, neither has the home secretary, neither has even the prime minister, is to completely reverse and undo certain legal aspects of this," Clegg told Radio Five Live. "That of course you wouldn't want politicians to do. That's what we are looking at at the moment. It's legally very complex."

    Ok, Mr Clegg, who then has such a simple power. Who is delegated it or elevated it by your spineless abdication of leadership opportunity?

    And "completely reverse and undo certain legal aspects of this" is a pathetic red herring which does politics proud but do not serve the public voice and wish.

    Please grow a pair if you want to be thought suitable material to stay in lead office, is sound advice for a rookie in the field.

  3. SuperTim

    I don't get it.

    Why do people think politicians will actually keep the promises they made to get into government when they actually get there?

    The Digital Economy act will not be repealed either, despite the howlings of the blues and the yellows at that one.

    In fairness to them though, they are getting rid of the ID card scheme, and maybe they might have a look at the Police DNA database.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      "they are getting rid of the ID card scheme"

      Um, if I were you, I'd wait until it's actually done to congratulate them for it.

      Just saying, is all.

  4. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    Politician goes back on word shocker!

    "His remarks, made on live radio, appear to be at odds with the positions he staked out prior to this month's elections."

    I will try to contain my amazement...

  5. Ralph B
    Black Helicopters

    Pursuasive US

    So, how do the US make Brit politicos so pliant? Have they really got compromising photos of all of them? Or has it been outsourced to to the webcam manufacturers (still turned on when it should be off) or to Google (for the search histories)?

    1. Eponymous Cowherd

      You do have to wonder, don't you.

      Pre election Clegg:

      We should grow a pair and stand up to US bullying.

      Post Election Clegg:

      Bends over, pulls bum cheeks apart and tells Mr President to be as rough as he likes.

    2. Tzael

      Re: Persuasive US

      I think you'll find that the 'agreements' between the USA and the UK now being used to force the UK's compliance have been in existence since the very early 90s. Consider the extradition to be the equivalent of protection money.

  6. Paul Gomme

    Yellow through and through...

    Well, what else would you expect from someone who heads a political party that chooses yellow as their colour...?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I like yellow

      and I could kick your bollocks into two shades of next week!

  7. Paul Durrant

    Politicians' powers

    I don't think Nick Clegg is "at odds" with his previous position.

    He previously said that the Home Secretary had the power to "enact amendments " - i.e. to change the laws.

    He's now saying the the Home Secretary doesn't have the power to "reverse and undo certain legal aspects." - i.e. that the Home Secretary can't arbitrarily override Judges' decisions on what the current laws say.

    Both are true.

  8. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

    Not at odds...

    His statements are not at odds with each other, it's just the element of personal consequences that have been made clear.

    Nick Clegg said then "It's completely within the Home Secretary's power to ENACT AMENDMENTS which will make this possible" (i.e. it may not be legal yet, but the HS can change the law to make it legal)

    He now says "Legally, we can't do it", or in other words nothing's changed from a legal perspective, it's just the willpower aspect of trying to change the law.

    Sounds like somebody's had a quiet word in his shell-like that just because something's technically possible, doesn't mean that it's a smart career move to do so.

    Penguin because they're not afraid to dive into deep water and face the consequences.

    1. Kaemaril

      I'm not quite sure that's right, is it?

      'Nick Clegg said then "It's completely within the Home Secretary's power to ENACT AMENDMENTS which will make this possible" (i.e. it may not be legal yet, but the HS can change the law to make it legal)'

      Can the Home Secretary just arbitrarily "change the law"? Doesn't Parliament get a say in the matter?

    2. Gordon is not a Moron

      re Penguin's

      I don't know if it applies to all breeds of penguin, but there are at least some that push a "friend" in first to let them check for predators by being lunch. If thier feathered friend survies a bit then they go join them.

  9. Piro Silver badge

    Clegg's really selling out?

    Oh dear.

  10. Alfred 2

    Do the crime ....

    I'm not too keen on the treaty that is being used to send the guy to the States, but that said he consciously hacked into their systems and now should face the consequnces.

    His case has been discussed on El Reg several times, and fankly I am sick of hearing his mother on Five live bleating on about his 'condition'. No doubt she hopes that a British court will let him walk free with a metaphorical slap on the wrist.

    Of course Nick clegg is finding out that it's easy to make promises when you don't think you're going to have to back them up. Perhaps he'll be more careful at the next election?

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon


      I don't think too many people on here give a flying f*ck at a rolling doughnut for McKinnon, it's the principle of the US trumping up the damages so that they can take one of our citizens so they can make an example of him for making them look stupid, without any actual evidence of the damages.

      The idea that having to subsequently secure their servers with passwords cost them millions of dollars is not 'damages' in my eyes - it's something they should have done anyway.

      1. Elmer Phud

        Stupid is as stupid does

        Thery are pissed off because once again the material, high tech solution to everything (throwing money at it) has been proved to be a total sham.

        They must have spent shedloads of money and boasted about how secure it all was before someone came along with a paper clip and picked the lock.

        They are severly embarrassed and need to screw someone over who didn't have any part to play with their own fuck up.

      2. Andus McCoatover

        Wait a minute...

        With the fall in the dollar, wouldn't his crime ($??) fall under the radar? After all, he's not been tried yet...

        Just a thought. Too tired to research it. Someone else. I'm gonna watch McCormac's "The Road". Far better than waiting for another reject from moderators.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down we go again

      Read the background. Nobody is saying he should not be prosecuted - what most reasonable people are saying is that he should be tried here (where he will get a just 6 months or suspended sentence for breach of the Computer Misuse Act) as opposed to 40-50 YEARS in an orange boiler-suit in the US (some states even want execution for him) - that added to the fact that the extradition agreement happened AFTER the hacking incident (and was not supposed to be retrospective).

      I suppose you are one of those in favour of sending adulterous wives of Iranian men in the UK to Iran for trial too?

      1. Oninoshiko

        in the words of wackypeadians:

        some states even want execution for him [citation please]

        There are only 2 cases where exicution is an option in most states (and this is not even a state case, so state law need not apply):

        Murder (even then it normally has to be "1st degree" or "premeditated"), Treason (doesn't apply since he is not a US citizen)

        For a number of reasons, capital punishment is not as popular in the US as media would have you believe, not least among which being that actually having an exicution (with all the legal rigamore that has to happen beforeand) actually costs more then just locking someone up for life w/o the opertunity of parole. (FTR: I am against capial punishment, in all cases)

    3. Cameron Colley

      Oh, do stop being a twat, Alfred 2.

      When he allegedly* "did the crime" the punishment was not extradition to the US -- it was trial and whatever was punishment decided if* he was found guilty. Since then the situation changed -- so actually he is prepared to "do the time" for his actions as originally stated.

      Aside from that -- I hardly think that throwing someone into prison to be beaten and abused for a few years is a fitting punishment for walking through an unlocked door** of a US public building**** and looking around.

      The US just don't like to be embarrassed and so are using a one-sided extradition treaty meant for serious criminals and laws meant for suspects of mass murder (or "terror" as the governments like to call it) to punish this guy for making them look like the incompetent fucktards they are.

      *He's innocent at the moment. Perhaps if he has a fair trial we'll find out if he's guilty or not?

      **Weak passwords and other lax security isn't worth calling security.

      ***This is stuff owned and paid for by the public -- before anyone makes an comparison to housebreaking.

  11. The Original Ash

    Daily Fail?

    Couldn't we have a real source, please?

    Surely the matter of preventing extradition isn't on any shaky ground whatsoever; When the guys with the cuffs turn up from the US you say "Errr, no." and send them home. You then phone Obama and say "That extradition thing... Yeah, we're not doing that. The last guy was hell-bent on turning us into a police state, and we don't like it. We'll need to renegotiate that particular treaty."

    Maybe I'm just an idealist.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Utter bull

    Dont have the power? They can pass any law they want. Clegg is a useless twat. Time for a proper change.

    1. Danny 14
      Thumb Down

      yes, they can

      they can change a law but not retrospectively enforce it.

      1. Red Bren
        Black Helicopters

        Why not?

        The extradition treaty was negotiated after the alleged crime took place, but it is being applied retrospectively.

  13. ShaggyDoggy


    That is bullshit Mr Clegg - there is NOTHING within these Isles and its peoples that is outside government control. Otherwise what's the point of having a government ?

    Grow a pair.

  14. The BigYin

    Surprised this isn't all over the gutter press


    So they won't stop the deportation of McKinnon (white), but they will stop the deportation of two terrorist suspects (non-white).


    Seems just the kind of thing they'd like to rant about.

    1. Andus McCoatover

      Yet Finland exports Grandmothers?

      S'ppose mobile phone business is falling a bit flat.

      Guess Russian/Egypt grannies are worth a bit more than a cheap phone from Finland (Except, they're made in China/India nowadays).

      Makes me effing angry, BTW.

    2. Andus McCoatover

      Ya mean...

      <Daily Fail> ..."Won't someone think of the Geeks?" </Daily Fail>

      (No 'r' missing from the above, they've got their own problems.)

  15. This post has been deleted by its author

  16. envmod


    jesus, give the guy a break already. the USA really want him don't they - seems like they want him a bit too much and are making a bit too much fuss about all this which leads me to believe he did in fact find something very sensitive. the USA would be much better to just say, "yeah whatever, there's nothing to find (in relation to UFOs) anyway and he didn't find anything so sure, put him on trial for a hacking offence in the UK". instead they make themselves look like they are hiding something and will go to any lengths to avoid revealing it - interestingly, the french COMETA report (a 1999 high level French UFO report with evidence from many government and military witnesses etc) also concluded that the USA are guilty of a massive cover up of the facts surrounding the UFO phenomenon.

    anyway, leave the guy alone - he's clearly harmless.

    1. noboard

      It's not what he found

      that's the problem. It's the fact that he's made America look stupid. The US Authoraties can either fess up and admit to the public how bad they were, or they can lie through there teeth and make some stupid Brit the scapegoat.

      If he's tried in the UK, the US will have to prove the machines didn't have default passwords on. They wont and they're left looking stupid.

      If he's tried in the US, they can make out that only a super genius could have got through the defences and as such should be locked up for life. They can then go to the public and say "We got him" and everyone feels like justice has been served. Machines will default passwords are still setup and life goes on as normal.

      Nothing to do with the fact E.T. retuned and is dating Lindsay Lohan.

    2. Anonymous John

      Does the USA really want him?

      I haven't read of them complaining about the delay. I don't expect they want to back down, but wouldn't be surprised if they want to see the back of the whole affair.

      Even to the extent of accepting a plea bargain, and giving him a token slap on the wrist. If he hadn't been fighting extradition, he could well have been back home long since.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    What a surprise

    Bad luck, Gary.

    Is anyone really surprised by this? Looks like our new shiny ConDem Government bottled it.

    It is entirely within the Home Secretary's jurisdiction to block this if so desired. The extradition treaty is so hopelessly one sided it should be repealed in any case. But for some reason, we musn't upset our 'friends' the Americans....

    Welcome to no doubt the first in a long line of broken promises from our shiny new ConDem Government which no one actually voted for.

    1. Annihilator

      The real surprise

      "new ConDem Government which no one actually voted for"

      Oh fr fuxake. There was me thinking that in the post-Brown/Labour years we would have an end to socially backward commentards shouting about governments who no-one voted for. Silly me.

      Where's the STFU icon.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        To be fair this really is a government no one voted for.

        People voted for Tory MPs, Lib-Dem MPs, Labour MPs, Green MP (etc) with the idea that their constituency would be governed by the party with the most votes and the party with the most constituencies would get to run the country.

        I doubt anyone voted for a ConDem MP....

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Oh look!

    A politician who says one thing before getting into power, and then does the opposite once he's got in.

    They said it was a time for a change and they were right. The parting on the left is now a parting on the right and our beards have all got longer over night.

  19. Sir Runcible Spoon


    This clearly shows who runs this country..America.


    Apologies for shouting, but this is a truly shameful statement for the deputy Prime Minister to make.

  20. Chris Hatfield

    That's galling

    I know very little about law so I can't comment on what Clegg has said. I wonder if, a year ago, he just said whatever he thought would be popular with voters (i.e. trial should be in the UK). Or maybe Clegg has learnt that it's his roel to be the USA's bitch.

    It would be utterly, utterly inhumane to send him to the US.

    If an Asperger's UFO enthusiast can penetrate your security, maybe you ought to employ the guy, you dumb fucks. (I'm talking to the US Govt here). You are morons.

  21. Chris Hatfield

    "we're in jail, dude"

    Remember that footage of that US pilot who accidently "had a blue on blue" and killed British army people in a tank. It was like 'whoopsy!'. I was lead to believe, from news reports, that the UK had very little influence on the disciplinary action of these (accidental) murderors.

    Britain used to rule a large chunk of the globe, a few centuries back. Now, they're role is clear; Britain is uncle Sam's little bitch.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The constitution must have changed...

    ...while I was asleep. I thought the last word on the powers of Parliament came from the 19th century bloke who said that it could do anything except turn a man into a woman. (And nowadays, given technical progress...)

    Maybe Nick Clegg means that it's beyond his power to pass a law that his Lib Dem party members wouldn't like. But why wouldn't they like this? Is there any obvious reason why we should extradite people to the USA more readily than they do to us?

    1. The Vociferous Time Waster

      What constitution

      We don't have a constitution, we have a bunch of historical conventions.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        That doesn't make it any less of a consitution.

        Just because it isn't written down doesn't mean it isn't there.

        1. Andus McCoatover

          Er, disagree. Strongly.

          You state "Just because it isn't written down doesn't mean it isn't there."

          (IT angle coming up):

          First rule of Engineering: If it isn't written down, it never happened."

          When I was at Nokia, we had blue hardback 'exercise' books in which we'd document everything. By that, I mean (apart from the time one went for a crap) EVERYTHING. What resistor you changed, and PRECISELY why. Formulas included.

          Over 12 years, I got through about 25 of the buggers, and my writing is small.

          That's why the USA puts so much store in it's constitution, and even more on the "Amendments".


          Surely that implies the Constitution wasn't correct the first time? Alpha version, maybe?

          Are we now 'having a better Constitutional Experience' (To use Microsoft's worn-out phrase) with the Beta version?

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. gerryg

        You might want to read...

        ..."The Rule of Law" by Tom Bingham (the ex top-banana judge) I think you'll find he thinks there is a constitution, as do others, as evidenced by the "Constitutional Reform Act 2005"

        Yes, there is not a single codification a la the US Constitution


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