IT is not necessary to take a view on whether the NatWest Three are guilty or not guilty of the charges being brought against them in the United States to think that their treatment at the hands of the British and American governments is outrageous. Answering questions in the Commons on Wednesday, Mr Blair did nothing to dispel a general feeling, strongly articulated by the LibDem leader Menzies Campbell, that there is one law on extradition for the United States and another for the rest of the world. City of London businessmen David Bermingham, Giles Darby and Gary Muldew who face serious fraud charges are due to be extradited to the United States next week without any prima facie evidence being presented in a British court. They also face a long imprisonment in America before their case is heard.
WHEN Britain agreed to this procedure it was linked to the “war on terror”, to enable terrorist supects to be extradited speedily; but it was agreed to on the understanding, not yet honoured, that reciprocal arrangements would be put in place for extradition from the US to Britain. The businessmens' argument that since their alleged crime was committed in Britain, they should be tried there has been dismissed.
In the Commons Mr Blair yielded a little by saying he would try to ensure that the men could apply for bail in the US. But this is too little, too late.