MPs attack Johnson over McKinnon case

By Ian Dunt

Alan Johnson was attacked by an influential committee of MPs today for his approach to the extradition of Gary McKinnon.

The home secretary had previously professed to have no power to prevent the extradition, writing in an article in the Times that to do so would be breaking the law.

But eyebrows were raised when Mr Johnson later delayed proceedings to evaluate new medical evidence.

He was summoned to appear on front of the home affairs committee this week, where he found himself facing a highly critical response from the MPs.

Today, the committee wrote to the home secretary expressing its displeasure.

“We received a clear legal opinion from Tim Owen QC and Julian Knowles, the barristers at Matrix Chambers specialising in human rights and extradition law, that the scope for the exercise of discretion by the home secretary is greater than you believe,” Keith Vaz, chairman of the committee, wrote.

“Given the obvious difficulties that have been experienced in applying the Extradition Act and the US-UK Treaty while fulfilling other obligations, such as those under the European Convention Of Human Rights, we recommend that the operation of the Act be reviewed comprehensively.”

MPs also raised significant concerns over the lopsided nature of the extradition treaty.

“The committee remains concerned that there is a serious lack of equality in the way the Treaty’s provisions apply to the UK, as opposed to American citizens,” the letter reads.

Mr McKinnon, a UFO enthusiast suffering from Aspergers syndrome, is wanted on trial in the US after he hacked into Pentagon files.