NatWest 3 put the spotlight on extradition

LAWYERS have warned that the spirited defence mounted by two of the “NatWest Three” against their prosecution in the US should act as an eye-opener for the government ahead of a planned review of extradition policy.

David Bermingham and Gary Mulgrew, two of the former NatWest bankers convicted two years ago of cooking up an Enron-related fraud scam, have now revoked their guilty pleas in a sensational video posted on the internet at Ungagged.net, a website designed to catalogue “prosecutorial abuse” in the Enron case.

The pair accuse US prosecutors of subjecting them to a form of “torture” by delaying the trial and keeping them from their families in the UK.

Legal experts said the case was yet another example of the importance of a thorough review of the UK’s Extradition Act, which is expected to be launched by the coalition government within weeks of politicians returning from the summer recess.

Anand Doobay, an extradition expert at Peters & Peters, said: “This case is symptomatic of a wider issue with the extradition treaty between the UK and the US. There have been a number of other controversial cases and if the issues are not tackled head on then this is likely to continue.”

Keystone Law solicitor Mark Spragg, who acted for the NatWest Three before they were extradited in 2005, attacked the current arrangements between the US and UK.

“At no stage of the process would anyone in England have the power to decide if an offence has even been committed by the defendant,” he told City A.M. “But if it is the other way round, we have to show reasonable cause. It is very, very one-sided.”

A Home Office spokesman said the government is “committed to a review of the Extradition Act and is giving careful consideration to the UK’s extradition arrangements to ensure they operate effectively and in the interests of justice”.