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Extradition case couple in hospital

A retired British couple set to be handed over today for extradition to the United States have been taken to hospital.

Paul and Sandra Dunham were due to leave their home in Northamptonshire this morning for London but were taken to Northampton General Hospital, a spokeswoman for the couple said.

The Dunhams' lawyer is understood to have contacted the Home Secretary requesting 14 days to assess their condition.

The pair lost a High Court battle last month against extradition to Maryland to stand trial over fraud charges relating to Mr Dunham's company, Pace.

Journalists due to take a statement outside the Dunhams' property in Northampton alerted police when the couple did not answer door.

Officers forced the door open and contacted paramedics, who arrived in two ambulances and took the couple to hospital.

Changes to the Extradition Act 2003, carried in the Crime and Courts Act 2013, removed the Home Secretary's powers to intervene in such a case, although i t is currently unclear when the extradition will take place.

Mr Dunham, 58, who was chief executive, president and a 20% shareholder in Pace - a US company manufacturing soldering irons for the electronics industry - was indicted on 13 counts of fraud and money laundering by a grand jury in Greenbelt, Maryland, in December 2011.

Mrs Dunham, also 58, is accused of eight counts of fraud for allegedly aiding and abetting him.

The Dunhams' failed High Court case heard that Mr Dunham had suffered several mini-strokes and mental health problems, and Mrs Dunham was suffering from depression.

The couple were due to arrive at Belgravia Police Station this morning and were to be taken to Heathrow and handed over to US marshals.

A statement from Northamptonshire Police said: "Police were called to an address in Collingtree, Northampton, this morning following concerns raised about the welfare of two people.

"Police attended the property at approximately 7.15am, forced entry and called paramedics.

"Two people were taken to Northampton General Hospital."

A spokeswoman for East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust said: " We received a call from Northamptonshire Police at 7.47am concerning the welfare of a male and female.

"A fast response vehicle (FRV) was first on scene followed by two double-crewed ambulances (DCA) who took two patients to Northampton General Hospital."

Mr Dunham has previously said he and his wife face up to two years in a US prison before trial, despite an independent report compiled for their extradition hearing describing available detention centres as having "inadequate facilities" to deal with their health conditions.

The couple, who have five grandchildren, "vehemently reject" allegations relating to expenses claims by Mr Dunham while he was working in the US, arguing the spending was sanctioned by Pace's board and that auditors raised no objections.

They insist the charges dating back more than a decade are the result of soured relations with a business rival.

At the High Court in April, Lord Justice Beatson and Mr Justice Simon were asked to halt extradition on the grounds it would violate Article Eight of the Human Rights Act, which safeguards an individual's "private and family life".

But the judges ruled the couple's mental health problems were not such as to make extradition unjust or oppressive under the Extradition Act.

Mr Dunham has previously said they would comply with the ruling but urged Home Secretary Theresa May to stay the decision to extradite them.

He has also questioned why he and his wife are being sent to stand trial despite suffering mental and physical illnesses while a judge blocked attempts to extradite Haroon Aswat, who is wanted for allegedly conspiring with radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza.

Lord Thomas, the Lord Chief Justice, last month temporarily halted moves by the Home Secretary to extradite mentally ill Aswat unless the US government gives specific assurances protecting his health and human rights.

Isabella Sankey, director of policy for Liberty, said: " The Dunhams' ordeal is a terrible indictment of our dangerously unfair extradition laws.

"They should never have had to suffer a system which rips families apart with little pause for proper investigation or due process.

"Politicians who talked reform but repeatedly failed to deliver - and in fact made things worse - should think hard about their actions today."


From Belfast Telegraph