We've written before about the new extradition laws. Now it seems certain that "The NatWest Three", Messrs.Bermingham, Darby and Mulgrew, will have to go to the United States to face trial, that they will not be given bail when they get there, and that they face sentences of up to 30 years unless they are prepared to confess their guilt, in which case they may be able to plea-bargain it down to five years or so.
This despite the fact that if they committed a crime at all (and they may not have done - nobody in this country has shown any enthusiasm for prosecuting them, anyway) it was in this country that they committed it, and it was a British firm (NatWest Bank) that was the victim. The only evidence of their alleged crime is the evidence that they voluntarily gave to the Financial Standards Authority, which the FSA then passed to the Americans for reasons best known to themselves.
The crime, if any, was that they advised their employer NatWest to sell some poorly-performing shares. They then bought said shares themselves, and sold them on to Enron at a profit. There's no suggestion that they had anything to do with the Enron scandal, and no part of the transaction actually took place in America. The Americans have not, under current extradition laws, had to show any just cause why they should be extradited, and the British government have steadfastly refused to take any action to protect them.
Now The GOS knows little or nothing about Bermingham, Darby and Mulgrew. They were investment bankers, they are probably rich … that's about the lot. They may be innocent. They may be guilty as hell. But either way, it's the British courts that should be making that decision, not the Americans. They might be villains, but they're our villains, and we have the right to decide.
The extradition treaty with America was agreed after 9/11 in order to facilitate the apprehension of terrorists, but only the British government feel themselves bound by it. The Americans have never ratified it. They expect us to observe it, but won't do so themselves. They have refused to extradite almost all the suspected IRA terrorists we ever asked for, because their courts thought the terrorists would not be able to get a fair trial in Britain.
This is pretty rich, I think you'll agree, from a country where 98% of all accused people plead guilty because they can't afford the lawyers to defend them, and also because if they proclaim their innocence and get found guilty anyway, they get a stiffer sentence, while if they use the "plea-bargain" system they can get let off with a really light sentence. That's almost certainly what the NatWest Three are going to have to do. Even though the Americans may not actually have any effective evidence against them, the Three probably couldn't afford the enormous legal costs of challenging the accusations.
The GOS has had a really good idea. If the Americans are so keen on being the World's Policemen and think they have the right to prosecute and punish foreigners for crimes committed in their own countries, why don't we let them take responsibility for a few more of our criminals? Perhaps we could send some of our rapists, muggers and football hooligans over there to be tried? That would take the load off our overworked justice system, and relieve the pressure in our overcrowded prisons. And since they don't seem too worried about little things like evidence and proof, perhaps they'd like to have a go at John Prescott - there must be something they could charge him with; how about "being fat and embarrassing"?
There was a time when a British citizen could rely on the British government to protect him. The GOS still has it printed on the inside front cover of his passport: Her Britannic Majesty's Secretary of State requests and requires in the name of Her Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary.
Not any more, it seems. America just has to snap its fingers, and Tony Bliar will sell Her Majesty's subjects down the river.
The GOS says: And while we're on the subject of the Americans, there's a distasteful little piece of video footage going round the internet at the moment. It shows a bored American soldier in Iraq passing the time by killing a dog. He appears to be enjoying himself. The worst thing is not the brainless, callous cruelty of it. It's the fact that the dog is lying quietly on the ground about fifteen feet away, and it still takes the soldier three shots to finish it off.
E****** B************ has emailed to point out: "There was a piece about it in Moneyweek on Friday and apparently NatWest don't even admit that any mistake or fraud occurred - their line is that they're perfectly happy with the deal that was done. So there's not even any allegation of wrongdoing in this country, it was just a failed scam by the yanks to squeeze some information about Enron out of these individuals."
The GOS says: On the other hand, though, read this.
either on this site or on the World Wide Web.
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