DTI in dock over detention in New York

A man is suing the DTI for damages, claiming that its attempts to extradite him from the US were unlawful, reports Roger Pearson.

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is to be put in the dock in the New Year accused of acting unlawfully in its attempt to extradite a man from the US – and it could be in for some embarrassment over the way it has formed its defence.

Financier Roger Levitt, who is working in New York as a boxing promoter, has rounded on the DTI following its attempt to bring him back to the UK in order to face charges of allegedly furnishing false information to DTI inspectors.

Levitt, who was detained in the US following the charges, is suing the DTI for exemplary damages and is seeking a declaration that it acted unlawfully in seeking to extradite him.

The DTI came in for judicial criticism in both the US and UK prior to the abandonment of the extradition proceedings against Levitt. Ultimately it conceded that the extradition moves were misconceived.

Two High Court judges in London have agreed to a request by the DTI to have Levitt's damages claim adjourned. But that move itself has brought further criticism.

In granting the adjournment until the New Year, Lord Justice Pill, sitting with Mr Justice Garland, described the DTI defence to Levitt's compensation claim, in respect of what he says was his unlawful imprisonment in New York, as "disingenuous".

The DTI claimed that the matter was one for the US, whose courts had ordered Levitt's detention. But Lord Pill said: "It doesn't do much for this country's international standing to put in comments like that."

Julian Knowles, counsel for the DTI says the point being brought home was that Levitt "suffered his losses abroad".

No date has yet been fixed for the hearing.