Missile accused vows to fight on
A retired businessman has vowed to fight on to end his "nightmare" after failing in a High Court bid to halt his extradition to the US on charges of conspiring to sell batteries for Iranian missiles.
Lawyers for Christopher Tappin, 64, have condemned the "one-sided" UK-US extradition treaty and say they will seek to block his removal in the Supreme Court.
Tappin, from Orpington, Kent, denies unlawfully attempting to export batteries for Hawk air defence missiles and says he was the victim of entrapment in a "sting" organised by US government agents.
But now, Lord Justice Hooper and Mr Justice Cranston, sitting in London, rejected his challenge to a decision in February last year by district judge John Zani at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court that extradition could go ahead.
The judges ruled that the entrapment argument was "unsustainable" and extradition would not be "oppressive" or a breach of human rights. The judges also ruled the charges the president of the all-Kent Golf Club Union faces are "extraditable offences", and they had to accept the extradition request was made "in good faith".
Tappin, a former director of Surrey-based Brooklands International Freight Services, has said he believed he was exporting batteries for the car industry in the Netherlands. Mr Justice Cranston said the allegation against Tappin, in broad outline, was that he had participated in the conspiracy with another UK citizen, Robert Gibson, who operated an export business in Cyprus, and American citizen Robert Caldwell. Others involved had not been named.
An investigation was launched by the US Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operation, using a shell company, Mercury Global Enterprises (MGE), staffed by agents pretending to be members of the business.
In 2007 an ICE agent charged Tappin and the other alleged conspirators with criminal offences. After his arrest, Gibson had agreed - without Tappin knowing - to co-operate with the US authorities and told them he was buying the technology and the Hawk batteries for a long-time Iranian customer in Tehran.
Gibson pleaded guilty in a Texas court and was sentenced to a two-year jail sentence in February 2007. A jury convicted Caldwell in June 2007 of aiding and abetting the illegal export of Hawk missile batteries, and he was sentenced to 20 months.
Human rights campaign group Liberty called on the Government to take action over the UK's extradition laws. Sabina Frediani, Liberty's campaigns co-ordinator, said: "No-one is immune from false accusation and instant extradition is already devastating too many lives."