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Peer rejects Tappin jail request

The Foreign Office has refused to press America over the treatment of extradited British businessman Christopher Tappin.

Mr Tappin, 65, was sent to the US last month and faces up to 35 years in jail if he is convicted of arms-dealing charges, but the Government said it would not be drawn into the row, citing the Data Protection Act.

Prosecutors claim Mr Tappin tried to sell batteries for surface-to-air missiles which were to be shipped to Iran via the Netherlands, allegations he denies.

His son Neil has previously spoken of his father's plight, claiming he has been locked up for 23 hours a day since being flown to Texas.

His extradition from Heathrow took place amid huge publicity and a press outcry over Britain's seeming inability to prevent the transfer.

Labour peer Lord Stoddart of Swindon wanted ministers to demand "improved conditions" for Mr Tappin, of Orpington, Kent, while he is held on remand, apparently in solitary confinement and with lights blazing 24 hours a day.

But, in a written Parliamentary answer, foreign minister Lord Howell of Guildford said: "Because of our obligations under the Data Protection Act, we cannot comment on the specific details or Mr Tappin's detention.

"However, we understand it is standard procedure in that prison for cells in segregation to have permanent lighting for security reasons.

"We cannot request special treatment for British nationals relative to the treatment received by other detainees in the US."

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