Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Tappin to face trial in November

Christopher Tappin, pictured with wife Elaine, faces arms dealing charges in Texas
Christopher Tappin, pictured with wife Elaine, faces arms dealing charges in Texas

A retired British businessman extradited to the United States on arms dealing charges will go on trial in November, his family said.

Christopher Tappin, who faces up to 35 years in jail if convicted, will go on trial in El Paso, Texas, on November 5, a statement said. The 65-year-old former president of the Kent Golf Union, who is on bail in Texas, denies trying to sell batteries for surface-to-air missiles to Iran.

Tappin's wife Elaine, of Orpington, Kent, and his family said: "It's taken seven long months to get this date for trial.

"Despite the much-welcomed support from friends and strangers alike, the emotional, financial and psychological impact of extradition on all the family is hard to overstate.

"Whilst Chris's living conditions are immeasurably better since he was granted bail in April, we remain a family divided by 5,000 miles. Health, jobs, family life and cost have considerably limited the opportunity for long distance visits.

"As a result, we question the need to extradite before a country is trial-ready. However we are relieved to now have a date on which we are all focused. We trust this will bring an end to this ordeal for us all."

His case has fuelled the row over the fairness of the extradition treaty between the UK and the US.

Attorney General Dominic Grieve QC said Tappin's extradition highlighted problems with the treaty which were not "readily curable", warning that many Britons were left uneasy when faced with the seemingly harsh and disproportionate sentences in the American justice system.

Other critics of the 2003 treaty, including Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, have described it as "one-sided", but an independent review by retired Court of Appeal judge Sir Scott Baker last year found it was balanced and fair.

Tappin denies the charges.

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