back to article Government defeats Tories in 'McKinnon' extradition vote

An opposition motion calling for a review of the extradition treaty between the US and UK failed in Parliament on Wednesday after Labour supporters of US extradition target Gary McKinnon fell behind the party whip. A total of 82 Labour MPs have supported McKinnon's campaign against extradition in three Commons motions tabled …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Alan Johnson

    Quote: He also rejected criticism that extradition procedures between the US and UK were "somehow unbalanced"

    I think that it is Alan Johnson who is unbalanced.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good old Labour party...

    Sticking up for the rights of Britain and its subjects to the very last.....please Gordon, put us all out of our misery - call an election and lets see this government put down humanely without further suffering

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. James Turner

    Treaty ratification

    The treaty was ratified by the US several years ago - (nice bit of spelling by the homeoffice there)

  5. John Taylor 1

    what a...

    woeful bunch of incompetent arses...

    I actually think we would be better just kicking the whole bunch of them out of parliament and locking the door.


  6. Anonymous Coward

    rejected claims

    that the treaty is somehow unbalanced

    I thought that was the one thing everyone was agreed on?

    Irrelevant of McKinnon, the treaty is unbalanced when you look that the weight of evidence needed for UK - US versus US - UK.

    If the conservatives hadn't related this to the controversial McKinnon case, I wonder whether some MP's might have changed their vote?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It needs Alan Johnsons permission

    It's not that he is "only to intervene" in anything at all. It needs his permission. He has to specifically authorize it.

    To hell with McKinnon, there is a principle at stake here and it's far bigger than the person.

    The UK extradition treaty says that USA can extradite people without providing evidence to a UK court for the reason. To be extradited they have to meet certain conditions, no court can review the details to see if those conditions are met.

    Once extradited they cannot guarantee the Brit their right to Judicial process, because the prosecutor can then change the charge. The original evidence for extradition is never examined by a UK court and is not challenge-able in the UK.

    I'd point you to the case of prosecutions of Gambling Site operators. These are legal in the UK, and under trade laws legal in the US. Yet the US makes them illegal and has snatched the CEOs of these UK companies.

    Under this extradition law, they can make a false claim for extradition, it can be totally false, the individual cannot challenge the evidence for extradition, because none is provided. He is them extradited, the charge is changed and he gets prosecuted for something that is legal.

    This lying to get an extradition is happening with McKinnon, the damages claim is inflated to be over the threshold needed for extradition. By extraditing him, you are accepting the US can lie to obtain extradition.

    What is the problem with allowing the courts to see and check the evidence for extradition? The US insists on it (damn right too), so why does the UK not?

    Blair was a nightmare, I hope he doesn't become EU President because he would place the EU under foreign control. Just as he was Bush's pet poodle, he would be the pet poodle of any major power in the world.


  8. dunncha

    spineless bastards!

    It really really really is a time for a change of Government.

    Should of just Obama for a pardon on the grounds that our own government is spineless and useless and utterly beneath contempt.

    Shouty Shouty: New Government Required: Apply within

  9. Anonymous Coward

    @James Turner

    It's you who fail.

    Yes, the treaty has been ratified.

    However, it doesn't alter the fact that the UK must provide prima facie evidence of a crime to secure extradition, but the USA is NOT required to.

    That is why the treaty is one-sided and should not be upheld.

  10. James Grinter 1

    Ratified, but..

    I was given to understand that the US decided they weren't allowed by the constitution to actually extradite their citizens to the UK? Perhaps El Reg could actually go and research the actual current state of play with regards to this treaty?

  11. Thomas 18


    What does this mean in real terms? How many more strikes before he is out?

  12. Ian Ferguson
    Paris Hilton

    So what you're saying is

    The campaign should have encouraged the Tories to vote FOR him being extradited, and the Labour majority would have voted to keep him here in a knee-jerk political reaction?

    I think I'm getting the hang of this democracy thing :-)

  13. Eponymous Cowherd

    What part of "unbalanced" doesn't Johnson understand?

    ***"He [Johnson] also rejected criticism that extradition procedures between the US and UK were "somehow unbalanced","***

    I see, So we (UK) have to provide prima facie evidence against US citizens to extradite them to the UK while the US just has to say "We think he/she did X. Hand him/her over" to extradite a UK citizen to the US.

    Noooo, nothing imbalanced in that, Alan.

  14. Silentmaster101


    i dont know why our gov across the pond hasn't aproved the treaty...

    surely there are plenty of miscreants over here we would be more than happy to unload for doing dumb stuff back to you.

    i think it could only be a win-win situation. then again, its beyond me why we want our taxes to pay for trials and jail terms for foreign troublemakers.

  15. Jon Thompson 2

    It's coming to something...

    ...when I side with the Daily Mail, but in my opinion too many Labour MPs are spineless jerk-offs. GROW A PAIR ALREADY AND DO WHAT'S RIGHT!

  16. Ted Treen

    So far...

    the British people have not been the stuff of which revolutions are made.


    We're getting there.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Private Prosecution

    Maybe someone should take a private prosecution against the UFO hunter and then ask for a delay in proceedings until, say, after the next election. Then when/if the Tories change the treaty - drop the case.

  18. John I'm only dancing

    Tear the treaty up

    Once again, the US of Stateians have to get their own way. We should stop cowtowing to Washington and give them a good old Anglo Saxon salutation, similar to that given to the French at Agincourt.

    The US justice system is ridiculous and breaches a fundamental right that was established in English law in 1215, ie in Magna Carta and right to be tried by your peers. As 99.99999% of our North American cousins are intellectual pygmies, that is not possible so throw lets dump the extradition treaty somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic.

    Wether McKinnon is innocent or guilty is not the issue, he should not be extradited. Why did the US wait all those years to pursue him? So they could have a show trial of someone who showed them up as the incompetent fools they are in their Defence Department.

  19. Apocalypse Later

    @ John Leydon

    The Daily Mail "fails to note that Tory supporters of McKinnon would have likely opposed the same motion had it been tabled by the government"

    That would be speculation, not news. The fact is that Labour "supporters" of McKinnon deserted his cause in the vote. That the Tories might have done the same if the parties were reversed is not a fact, but a prediction about a hypothetical situation that did not take place. A proper reporter knows the difference, and leaves that kind of comment for the editor's opinion piece. Lots of reporters nowadays don't know the boundaries of course, and some of the editors don't either.

    Of course, it may be that the quote from the Daily Mail is FROM the editorial, in which case you must expect the editor to give his opinion, not a balanced view. And certainly not a view unbalanced in the direction that you would approve of.

    Hence the Daily Mail is entirely correct not to publish your slant on the Tories. Not in the news (which it isn't) and not in the opinion (which is theirs, not yours). Still, you have managed to get your slant into this article, by ignoring the rules on reporting news and making it an opinion piece.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Just curious

    Isn't this McKinnon chap the same one who, after breaking into these computers, boasted on the Twatnet that he was the uber-hacker then, when he faces a huge jail sentence, breaks down and does the teenage 'its not my fault'?

  21. James 100

    Ratification and balance

    The article is pretty poor, saying the complaints of imbalance are about the US not having ratified the treaty yet, which just isn't true.

    Using the "one-sided" nature to defend McKinnon is also poor, though, since his guilt is admitted! (Hence the attempt to get a UK trial, to pre-empt a US one.) He's already appeared in UK courts plenty of times trying to wriggle out of it: it's hardly as if he'd just been stuck on the next plane to the US all those years ago when he was first caught. Anyone wanting to push for a change to this treaty would be much better advised to find a better test case, where there's actually a legitimate question about the existence of sufficient evidence to extradite.

    I don't like the idea of criminals hiding behind legal technicalities across borders: having committed a crime involving US computers, he should be extradited to face trial for it there, just as I would want an American hacker who had broken into British computers to be extradited here. Even if the US would drag their heels and obstruct it, that's no excuse for Britain sinking to that level. Set a good example by handing him over promptly, then if and when the US does fail to extradite someone we actually have a leg to stand on complaining about it! As it is, if we ask them to hand someone over and they dither and procrastinate for years about it, they're just copying our own mistake over McKinnon.

  22. Richard 120

    Party politics

    I fucking hate party politics, it basically breaks democracy.

  23. Peyton

    @James Grinter 1

    "...US decided they weren't allowed by the constitution to actually extradite their citizens to the UK.."

    I doubt that is the case - it would have to be unconstitutional based on destination country. Google John Demjanjuk.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Treaty would be wrong even if balanced

    The treaty is unbalanced but that is not why it should be repealled. The problem is that it allows extradition without an examination of the evidence against the subject of the extradition. This is not a good idea because extradition itself ihas a very major negative impact on the subject. Peope who committed minor offences or against whom there is no strong evidence should not be extradited. There is an additional problem with teh US because the US legal system continues to fail to reach basic legal standards with continued detentions without trial and no clear prtections fro non-US citizens.

    Extradition should only occur when there is a good case of a serious offence. This treaty was in response to US attempts to extradite people on terrorism charges with no evidence except they were muslim and had attended flight school. A UK judge rightly threw this out after asking the US repeatedly for some real evidence. The response of the US and UK govenments from this attempt to abuse the system was to change the system to allow the abuses to occur.

    One of the issues with this treaty in the modern world the ability to allegedly commit a crime while not leaving the UK in the US means that you can be imprisoned without having any protection from UK law. In the Mckinnon case we have an offence committed which is so trivial that it was considered not worth prosecuting. In the US itis considered a major crime.

    If Mckinnons case it is quite clear that although he committed an offence by accessing computers without permission the evidence and charges against him are wildly exagerrated if not outright fabricated. The fact that he could face two decades in jail for an ofence which as so trivial no charges were pressed and for which the very most he could expect would be a few months in UK prison shows that something is deeply wrong.

  25. adam payne

    The case goes on

    Regardless of how many times I read about this my opinion stays the same. He's guilty, he admitted as much but he should be tried by his peers in this country. It seems the US want to use him as a scapegoat because they're embarrassed that it was so easy to get into their computer systems and with a commercial available product no less. In light of this how can he receive a fair trial in the US?

    As for the extradition treaty it needs to be thrown in the bin as it's completely one sided and open to abuse by the US government. Of course the Labour government won't bin it because they're spineless and are too busy catering for the whims of the US government to listen to the people of this country.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    @James 100

    From your comments you seem to think it therefore fair and right for people to be extradited to Iran - for homosexuality (it's an offence there) to North Korea - for religious beliefs ,etc.

    He commited (no doubts he's confessed) an offense in the UK on a computer in the UK, that had an effect half the world away, I'll give you, but the offense was here. Therefore they should try him here under UK law or drop it.

    As an example if I were as a 15 y.o. to purchase a knife from a US site (from a state where knife ownership were legal at 16) should the owners of the site be bagged and tagged and dropped off on the steps of the Old Bailey as selling knives to 15 y.o is unlawful here.

    Or the Reddest Necked sites selling WWII memorabilia to Germans (where some of this is illegal) IIRC told the German Govt. to get stuffed as its not illegal in the US.

  27. James Turner

    @AC 11:18

    I don't disagree the treaty is a load of cobblers.

    But making factual errors weakens any argument. As the article now says the treaty is one-sided is rather different from the original version saying the US haven't been bothered to ratify the thing.

    That was why there was Fail.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wasting my breath

    Throw away the key!

    He's not a naughty boy, he's a nasty & violent vandal.

    Ship McKinnon to the USA & let the US pay for his deserved internment rather than the UK.

  29. EdwardP


    "Another 15 abstained, while 59 Labour MPS who previously supported McKinnon voted with the government."

    This is the best example I can give for why the currently political system does not work. The decision making process is based on personal allegiances not beliefs.

    The issues don't get a look in.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why so surprised

    I don't see why anyone is so surprised by the actions of the Labour lunatics.

    They have amply demonstrated that they are lying two-faced scumbags over many years; just look at their gun control paranoia, the Gulf warand the expenses revalations. There again, the rest of the Westminster wankers have not exactly covered themselves in glory either!

  31. Graham Marsden

    @Good old Labour party...

    > please Gordon, put us all out of our misery - call an election

    Co-incidentally Number 10 has just replied to the Petition calling on the Government to hold an election now. Guess what their response is...?

  32. Sean Hunter


    The treaty is balanced. To extradite from the US you have to show "probable cause", which is the equivalent standard to the one you have to show to extradite from here (reasonable grounds to believe an offense has been committed). They're never going to be exactly the same because the whole system of law in the two countries are different, but to get an arrest warrant in the states a copper has to show probable cause and to get an arrest warrant here you have to have reasonable grounds. That's the purpose of the treaty. To say, if you would get arrested here for something then you can be extradited from the States for doing that thing, and vice versa.

    Now, setting aside the question of balance and the treaty and looking at the facts of the extradition, and why his team are fighting this so hard in the media. They are fighting in the media because they have absolutely no legal case whatsoever. He has admitted the offense and his mitigation "looking for ufos" is not a legal mitigation. The pub lawyer argument of "He's never been to the states so his crime must have been committed here" fails as a matter of settled law. The usual law-school argument is something like this. Say I stand on one side of the border between countries A and B and shoot someone on the other side. Where has the crime been committed? As a matter of settled law where the *effect* takes place (not where I am) is where the crime has been committed.

    As to whether or not he has Asperger's, that is something which should properly be introduced in mitigation of sentence at his trial in the US.

  33. Julian 1
    Thumb Down

    What a bloody disgrace

    Parliament, under such public scrutiny just now, is still a bloody disgrace. Parliamentary shinnanigans before the interests of the country,

    The treaty, as is, should be voided. No question.

    Really won't matter who we vote for. It'll still be a Punch and Judy show.

  34. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    Another Johnson shuffle

    Still 329 days to go.

  35. ElFatbob

    so Labour said they'd do one thing then did the opposite

    no surpises there then...

  36. Bounty
    Black Helicopters

    why so emotional?

    John the dancer, even with 99% of us dumb, signing that treaty with us doesn't seem very bright. I'm all for fixing it though. Then we can send you the evidence and get on with it.

    AC 13:08, then why have extradition treaties? Also, your argument is flawed. Hacking military computers is not legal here or there, so try to come up with some other examples to make your point. Maybe an example would be that a visiting American arson lit a big fire causing significant property damage to a UK data center (to prove UK datacenters are insecure and to destroy locally stored communications with UFOs.) However we just didn't bother with prosecuting him for some reason. In that case I'd be glad to send the arson away.

  37. Damien Thorn
    Paris Hilton

    no winner

    We live in 2009, the guy is just a person who is being used as a scapegoat.

    Yes he might have aspergers syndrome (sorry if i spelt it wrong) and he did break the law.

    But america / uk are making him a scapegoat.

    Hackers who break into real military/secret computers usually vanish without trace. If something is secret, you can be certain if you go messing with something where it matters your gone, vanished no more.

    To get into the real military you need a sat, and some serious heavy duty technology, and bullet proof location, in fact probably beyond the range of a bunker buster too, the usa has been known to "neutralise" any and all threats to real national security.

    The truth is what did he actually hack?

    A few pc's owned by nasa, and probably a few pc's owned by the military too, but none would contain secrets? thats like saying the government keep there secret operatives numbers in the phone book, dial S for spy followed by country code and department - of course they dont.

    So lets stop pretending this is about gary or extradition treaties, its about uk/usa saying if you mess or try to do it your going to be like paris - fucked in public.

  38. Tom 106

    Government and Politicians

    So, after everything that has taken place in Government and with politicians on the whole this year, no lessons have been learnt, and there is no change in site, and very little prospect of any kind of reform in the way the politicians operate.

    They still bend over with a smile for the "whip". Shame on the Politicians, may you be all dammed come May 2010.

  39. Dr. Mouse

    I really don't get this case

    He was in the UK. Hence he is subject to UK law. Hence he should be tried in the UK under UK law. Simple.

    In the hypothetical case where, say, a UK citizen posts a bomb from the UK to the US, and this explodes and kills people, once again he has committed said offense in the UK, broken UK law and should be dealt with in the UK.

    As soon as you allow this sort of thing, how can anyone be sure of which law they should be following? You could, say, post a comment on a forum which is perfectly legal in this country, but because the server is hosted in the US you are extradited and imprisoned (I know this is at least bordering on reductio ad absurdum, if not already there)

    This smacks of the US govt's oppinion that it is the judge and jury for the entire world. How accurate the title of the 2004 film written by Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Our govt SHOULD stand up to them, but then do we really expect them to look out for their citizens interests anymore?

  40. Dom 1
    Paris Hilton

    @James 100

    Why don't you look at the case before passing judgment? OK, I can't stand hackers - he has admitted to hacking in to the computers, and should be punished.

    BUT, the computers he "hacked" into has NO or BLANK PASSWORDS! To post a message on this fair site, you need a password! You would feel that the largest military power on the planet would, at least, require passwords to access top secret servers? At least it was him breaking in, and not some unfriendly government. Maybe he actually did the US a favour, by highlighting the fact that sensitive data was so easily accessable?

    Secondly, the US initially said - in court - that he had NOT done ANY damage to the systems he broke into. Yet in subsequent court hearings, apparently, he did. Strangely enough, the amount (in Dollars) of damage he did was EXACTLY the minimum amount required under US law to prosecute/extradite. Odd that.

    Thirdly, if the extradition law was the opposite way round - with the UK Gov not requiring to provide information, but the US must - the US population would be up in arms! It's just unfortunate that the UK MP's are such a bunch of money-grabbing self serving spineless tossers.

    Paris? Cause even she can spot bullsh1t!

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