US wins another UK extradition row

Another blow was struck against the business community last week (6 September) as the Lord Chief Justice ordered the fast-track extradition to the US of two elderly hoteliers accused of fraud.

Colin Passmore, Simmons & Simmons litigation head, instructed 3 Raymond Buildings’ Clive Nicholls QC and James Lewis QC to act for South African nationals and UK residents Stanley and Beatrice Tollman in their fight against extradition.

White & Case partner Alistair Graham, who is acting for retired businessman Ian Norris in his fight against extradition, commented: “This demonstrates that the US is now using the new fast-track procedure to extradite people it either felt it couldn’t get before, or who it wasn’t taking sufficient steps to get before.”

Last week Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, the Lord Chief Justice, sitting with Mr Justice Cresswell, ruled against the Tollmans’ arguments that there was an abuse of process in their case.

Lord Phillips also rejected an earlier finding of the Senior District Judge at Bow Street Magistrates Court that the Tollmans were entitled to discovery of documents.

The US government first made the request in the Tollmans’ case in March 2003, before the introduction of the 2003 Extradition Act. That legislation ratified the 2003 Extradition Treaty between the US and UK on this side of the Atlantic, enabling the US to make extradition requests without providing a prima facie case.

However, there has been criticism of the fact that the US has not yet ratified the treaty, making it tougher for the UK to make extradition requests.

In April 2004 the US government withdrew its request relating to the Tollmans, but reissued it in August 2004.

Simmons then began to fight the request, contending that the use of the 2003 legislation was an abuse of process, and sought disclosure on that issue. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) contended that legal professional privilege, or public interest and diplomatic immunity, would apply to the majority of the documents.

In December 2005 the Senior District Judge decided that the CPS was not acting in a solicitor-client relationship with the US government, and so privilege did not apply. But Lord Phillips rejected those decisions in last week’s decision.