Hartlepool MP Iain Wright was amongst dozens of Labour MPs who abandoned Gary McKinnon in his fight against extradition to the U.S. Despite signing the Early Day Motion which effectively was a written pledge of support to the Asperger's Syndrome sufferer, Iain Wright once again demonstrated that it is Labour Party and Political career that are his overriding concerns.
During a highly-charged debate, a floundering Home Secretary Alan Johnson faced criticism from all sides over the decision to let Mr McKinnon be taken to the U.S. for trial on charges of computer hacking, where he faces a sentence of up to 60 years.
'We have to act in accordance with the law and the law in this case I believe provides safeguards,' he insisted. And he dismissed the suggestion that the extradition arrangements between the UK and the U.S. were 'somehow unbalanced'.
His claim prompted cries of disbelief from Tory and Liberal Democrat MPs, who said other senior Government ministers had admitted Britain had to provide a higher standard of evidence if it wants to extradite a U.S. citizen. When it came to a vote, however, 74 Labour MPs who had previously signed Commons motions backing Mr McKinnon or demanding a review of extradition agreements with the U.S. failed to go against the party line. Fifty-nine voted with the Government and 15 abstained.
The Tory call for an urgent review of the controversial Extradition Act 2003 was voted down by 290 votes to 236. If only 28 more Labour MPs had stuck to their principles, the Government would have faced defeat.
'It's a frustrating sign that Labour MPs are willing to sign motions for PR purposes but are not actually prepared to vote for change in the House of Commons,' said Mr Grayling.
Former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell launched a devastating attack 'In the period immediately after the military action against Iraq, the policy of the Government was to stay as close as it possibly could to the U.S. and that was the motive that lay behind this treaty,' he said. Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said he was 'astonished' by the new 'Johnson doctrine' that there was an equality of treatment by the U.S. and the UK over extradition. In the past, ministers had confessed there was an imbalance but had tried to justify it on other grounds, he said. Mr Huhne said it was 'simply ludicrous' that the Government was 'prepared to afford our American counterparts such greater protections than it does our own citizens'.
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