Clegg backtracks on McKinnon extradition claims

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has started to do a U Turn on plans to save Gary McKinnon from extradition. For a few brief minutes it looked like the new government was going to stand up to the United States and not extradite Gary McKinnon.


The Deputy Prime Minister said during a radio interview that he, the Home Secretary Theresa May or even David Cameron might not have the power to halt an earlier court decision allowing him to be extradited.


So that means all those remarks he made while in opposition that it was “completely within” the then Home Secretary Alan Johnson’s power to make changes to the law to allow him to be tried in Britain may not have been completely true.


It appears however that it is true that politicians views change when they get a desk in the ministry.


The extradition has been approved by the courts, though lawyers for McKinnon, who suffers from Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism, have waged a long-standing legal campaign against it insisting that the move would breach his human rights.


Until now Clegg has been a high profile supporter of their efforts and dismissed claims by the previous government that it had no power to intervene.


Clegg wrote last year it was “simply not good enough for Alan Johnson to shrug his shoulders and claim that nothing can be done”.


“It’s completely within his power to enact amendments from the Police and Justice Act, which would allow Gary McKinnon to be tried over here. Or he could urge the Director of Public Prosecutions to begin proceedings.”


However when talking to Radio 5 he said that while he had not changed his view “in any way” he said that he had not got the power to completely reverse and undo certain legal aspects of the case.


He still thinks that Gary McKinnon should be tried in the UK, but says he is powerless to do anything. He should know about being powerless – he has been a liberal democrat for some time. However you should think that now he is in charge he should be able to do more than do a France to the Americans.