White & Case loses extradition battle

White & Case lost its legal challenge to avoid extradition to the United States for retired businessman Ian Norris on charges of price-fixing and obstructing justice.

The former chief executive of UK manufacturing company Morgan Crucible is the latest business figure to lose an appeal against extradition to the US over alleged “white collar” crimes.

The ruling by Lord Justice Auld and Mr Justice Field in the High Court could pave see Norris, who has prostate cancer, to be sent to face charges that he was involved in fixing the price of carbon products between 1989 and 2000 – charges he vehmently denies.

White & Case partner Alistair Graham is seeking an application to appeal to the House of Lords “as soon as possible.” Auld LJ and Field J will decide shortly if there is a right to appeal.

“We continue to believe that the issues raised in this case need to be heard by the UK’s highest court,” said Graham. “We have been saying for more than two years that no criminal offence for price-fixing existed in the UK prior to the enactment of the 2002 Enterprise Act.

“Nobody in the UK has ever been prosecuted for price-fixing under the banner of conspiracy to defraud, for what we still believe are very sound legal reasons.”

Norris, 63, who retired from Morgan Crucible four years ago due to illness, is the first foreign national to be sought by the US on anti-trust charges.

His case, follows the controversy last year when three former NatWest bankers were extradited on Enron-related fraud charges.

Last year over two hearings, Richard Gordon QC and Martin Chamberlain, both of Brick Court chambers, acting for Norris argued that the price-fixing conduct of which he was accused did not amount to an offence under English law at the time it was alleged to have taken place.

The High Court also rejected the argument that the decision to order his removal to the US was “unlawful and irrational” because the extradition treaty, which allows fast-track extraditions, was “hopelessly lopsided” in favour of the US authorities.

David Perry QC and Miss Adina Ezekiel of 6 King’s Bench Walk acted for the first respondent the secretary of state for the home office.