As well as announcing that Gary McKinnon will not be extradited to the US on charges of computer hacking, the Home Secretary today announced a number of changes to the way extradition is handled in this country. These changes will mean:
1. The Home Secretary is introducing a ‘forum bar’, which allows a British court to prevent prosecution overseas if it believes a trial in Britain would be fairer.
2. Future Home Secretaries will not be able to exercise discretion on human rights grounds as Theresa May did today. May said the matter should be for the High Court, and that the government will introduce primary legislation to enable this change.
3. The Government will look again at ways to cut down delays in the extradition process, including examining the legal aid provision for terror suspects in national security cases, reforming rights of appeal and streamlining the stages in the process. Ministers will work with the European Court of Human Rights to cut down on the delays which occur there, which May described as ‘wholly unacceptable’.
4. A new permission stage for appeals to courts in the UK could also be introduced.
5. Britain’s plans to opt-out of and then renegotiate the terms of the European Arrest Warrant will be one step, May said, towards addressing flaws in the extradition process. She said:
‘There are concerns in particular about the disproportionate use of the EAW for trivial offences, and for actions that are not considered to be crimes in the UK. There are also issues around the lengthy pre-trial detention of some British citizens overseas. We know these concerns are shared by other member states.’