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Tappin case bail refusal 'outrage'

The wife of a retired British businessman extradited to the United States has said it is "heartbreaking" that he will be kept behind bars while he awaits trial on arms dealing charges.

Elaine Tappin said it was an "outrage" that her 65-year-old husband Christopher was denied bail on Monday night in El Paso, Texas.

Judge Robert Castaneda ruled Tappin must remain in custody after US prosecutors told the federal court in El Paso, Texas, he may be a "danger to the community" if released. He agreed that measures could be imposed to ensure Tappin is monitored if released, but said a discrepancy in Tappin's financial statement led to him being denied bail.

Daryl Fields, a spokesman for the US Attorney's office in the western district of Texas, added that Tappin was denied bail because he "posed a flight risk".

Tappin, who faces up to 35 years in jail if convicted of trying to sell batteries for surface-to-air missiles to Iran, has spent 23 hours a day locked in his cell at the Otero County detention centre in New Mexico. His trial will take place before US District Judge David Briones in El Paso, but no date has been set.

Mrs Tappin, 62, of Orpington, Kent, said: "This is an outrage. God only knows how he'll bear up. It's heartbreaking. I am shocked and deeply disappointed. He's a man of his word and is certainly not at risk of fleeing - where would he go? He doesn't have his passport or access to money.

"Why has the British Government allowed him to be incarcerated in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day before he's even been tried? Tony Blair helped the NatWest Three, why can't David Cameron help Chris?"

Mrs Tappin continued: "He's not a danger to anyone - he's a 65-year-old granddad. How is he supposed to prepare a proper defence when he's only been allowed to communicate with his lawyers from behind a plastic screen?"

Ukip leader Nigel Farage, who has known Tappin for almost 40 years, added he was "absolutely appalled" that he had been denied bail, "but even more so that the Home Secretary has done absolutely nothing to help the situation".

In a brief telephone conversation with his wife on Sunday night, Tappin told her he was shackled and confined in a cage for five hours before his bail hearing on Friday, a family spokeswoman said.

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