Sunday, July 09, 2006

What Now for the NatWest Three?

Rod Liddle has written about the NatWest Three in the Sunday Times. He finishes his article with these words...

When it came to alleged IRA terrorists, the US judiciary worried that those people we wished to extradite might not receive due process in the British courts, what with us being imperialists and racists. So here’s a question: do you think British citizens whom the US believes to be members of Al-Qaeda will get a fair trial in the US? In the state of Texas, which was devastated by the Enron implosion, will there be a fair trial for Messrs Bermingham, Darby and Mulgrew? In short, doesn’t that one-sided Extradition Act prevent the British government from exercising one of its most important obligations: to protect British citizens and afford them justice?

Our government doesn't seem to be acting as an independent government in this matter. It's as if we have become a colony and feel the need to obey the mother country for fear of what the consequences might be. At last one government Minister, Peter Hain, has spoken out and said “It is increasingly frustrating that we seem incapable of doing more for them. The situation is grossly unfair and it is exasperating that the Americans seem to hold all the cards.”

Baroness Scotland's defence on Radio 4 yesterday and the TV today is so full of holes, it's quite astonishing that she doesn't seem to realise we all know she's deliberately not telling the full story. She says the legislation was never only meant to apply to suspected terrorists. It was. She says America has provided prima facae evidence. It hasn't. She says it's not within the Home Secretary's power to intervene. It is. She says there is repricosity in the legislation. There isn't. Tony Blair has promised to do 'all he can'. He's got a week left in which to do it.

People from all sides of the political world seem to agree that this whole think stinks. I understand that three bankers aren't perhaps the most popular group of people but next time it might be three environmental campaigners, three artists or three sportspeople. It's time to tell the USA where it can stick its extradition order.


Anonymous said...

So America, no longer the free world? Rather an ultra-leftist opinion, surely?

Anonymous said...

The level of response and support these three innocent(until proven otherwise) men receive from self-serving Mr. Blair will depend on how many points he thinks it will score with the public.

Preventing their extradition may well detract from his other troubles in the short-term, but he will still need to explain how such a ludicrously one-sided agreement came into being in the first place.

Archbishop Cranmer said...

Indeed, Mr Dale, I am in wholehearted agreement.

It is the primary moral obligation of a government to ensure justice for its citizens. Subjects of Her Majesty should have the right of appeal to Her Majesty's Government for a fair trial. Such a right is enshrined in successive constitutional treaties agreed between the people and the monarch. This 'agreement' with the US renders them a suzerain power to whom we are all now subject, and if Guantanomo is anything to go by, the US no longer upholds those foundational tenets it inherited from England - Habeas Corpus and Trial by Jury.

It is time to say 'No' to the United States of America. I don't somehow think Bush will humiliate Blair by forcing the issue.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the three should appeal to the European Court under the 'human rights act'.

Before Dave reforms it.


Anonymous said...

This is a disgraceful treaty. It makes Great Britain into a vassal state of the USA. I suspect there will be a lot of other people from the City and the business community following these three to a US jail.

Why is Blair so subservient to the USA? It is almost as if they have something on him, and have threatened exposure in the tabloids if he does not do as he is told. Of course, that cannot be true. Tony could never do anything wrong, and the US would never blackmail him.

nadders said...

In response to Mike, they aren't just going to the USA, they are going to Texas. These guys have pretty much zero chance of a fair trial in a state full of now Enron haters who will dislike on sight a bunch of foreign Brits.

As they have resisted going over, they almost certainly will be banged for 2 years while the "case" is constructed against them

What comes next is the real issue. If I slag off Coca Cola could they get me carted off to an Atlanta court?

WmByrd said...

"this whole think stinks. I understand that three bankers aren't perhaps the most popular group of people..."
Nail on head, Iain. This is clearly more outdated class-warfare - and the government's revenge for all the UK fraud cases the CPS and Attorney General have't been able to win over the past few years.

WmByrd said...

nadders - "If I slag off Coca Cola could they get me carted off to an Atlanta court?"
I bet they could, and would!

Anonymous said...

Since when did "Blair" aka B'liar give a monkey's about anybody other than his own. [kind] The man stinks of corruption, from the Bernie [£1mill] affair through to Iraq. do WE get the governent we deserve??

Peter from Putney said...

It has been stated over recent days that RBS/NatWest have written evidence that would clear these three - why haven't they either produced it or denied that this is the case?

Anonymous said...

nadders and wmbyrd weaken the argument by making "clever" overstatements. Ignorant "knowing" jokes about America go over like a lead balloon to people who know the country.

I lived in Texas (indeed, Houston) and I wouldn't fear being tried there.

Why nadders think a Texas jury "will dislike on sight a bunch of foreign (sic) Brits"he doesn't explain. Britain has only tangential recognition in most of the US. They spend 24 hours a day not thinking about it.

What I would fear, however, is that the jury won't understand the testimony because they won't understand British accents. That is a real concern.

The major worry, of course, is that this extradiction is a travesty and one more example of Blair's infantile, self-centred, self-serving governance.

One thing Brits could do is email the President or Dr Rice. American administrations are responsive. You might also email the US attorney general and the attorney general of Texas, especially if you practice law and can point out some technicalities.

Sabretache said...

There two other pending cases a little behind the Natwest three - Gary McKinnon and Babar Ahmed. When you consider the penalties that await both if found guilty and look at the information supporting their extradition, you can't help concluding that that two other gross miscarriages of justice are in the pipeline there to. See Here for more.

Anonymous said...

Sadly the Desperate Portly Man is still getting more press than these poor guys. Odd how Prescott getting a free hat seems to take precedence over a story about three men getting Royally screwed by his Government.

Vol Abroad said...

Apparently, extradition fast-tracking isn't just limited to the US - similar arrangements, according to The Economist, already exist with European countries. Don't like US justice? Try French, Italian or in future Romanian or Bulgarian justice.

The question isn't whether the US should adopt reciprocal agreements (they shouldn't) but when should the UK get rid of this law?

And to sabretache - hmmm, I did some checking around on the Babar Ahmad case a while back and read the extradition request. It seemed to me that the US government actually presented a prima facie case, even though they didn't have to. It may be the same for Gary McKinnon and the NatWest Three as well. Mr Ahmad's request was submitted over a year ago, too - so it's not very fast track - is it?

Get rid of this law so people can look at the merits of each case.

Anonymous said...

Gary Elsby
The weakness of the ECHR & Human Rights act is shown by this case. If the Bill of Rights (1689) was properly enforced and updated as DC so sensibly suggest perhaps there would be p[rotection against executive fiat and the right to due priocess before a British Court could be enforced. THe US Bill of Rights offers such protection to US citizens.

Anonymous said...


Blair is just lining up another subject for his post PM speaking circuit. If you think he gives a toss about the rest of us 'Proles'think again.


Anonymous said...

If Prescott is minding the shop when Blair is off on his freebie holidays (On holiday when we are allegedly at risk of terrorist attacks at home and our soldiers die in Iraq and Afghanistan?)Helping the Three would be a good chance for JP to rehabilitate himself with public opinion.

Beau Bo D'Or said...

Did I hear Baroness Scotland refer to the Nat West Three as the ENRON THREE ?

I think I did and, if so, what spinmeister came up with that one ?

Anonymous said...

Like so often before, Blair is probably waiting until the last minute before stepping in on his white-charger (I hope!)to make him appear the saviour of the day and gain good publicity (chipped coffee mug in one hand and a few "Y'know's) taking Joe Public's attention away from Pressa and co.

strapworld said...

VOL ABROAD is quite correct.

I, like most, am seriously concerned about this Act of Parliament...(not a treaty!) which has made us second class citizens. I fear for anyone entering an American Prison. I am afraid the three will suffer! They will be clasped in irons, wear those ridiculous pyjama suits and shuffle into court looking every inch the guilty three they have been painted.

god bless america! land of the free.

BUT,as VOL ABROAD points out, the beloved EU countries can take us and try us in their fair and highly respected courts.

Still the Notting Hill Set will not change anything.


ps Just watched Destry rides again, I am sure I saw JP!

Anonymous said...

This treaty could also be a good way of getting rid of annoying bloggers.

Our government could get a friendly US District Attorney to invent a charge, and the poor blogger would spend the next few years in an American jail trying to defend himself.

Not done anything wrong? That won’t matter. As Cardinal Richelieu said, 'If one would give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest man, I would find something in them to have him hanged.'

You have not been annoying anybody recently, have you Mr Dale?

Anonymous said...

Any lawyers reading this: Beau bo d'Or says: "Did I hear Baroness Scotland refer to the Nat West Three as the ENRON THREE ?"

If she did so refer (and I understand her IQ is nudging the upper 70s), would this pre-judgement by her, in her official capacity, invalidate anything and allow us to keep these men in Britain?

Could this epithet save them from extradition?

Anonymous said...

PS - Where did she say this and does anyone know how to grab the screen before it's stealth edited?

Sabretache said...

Beau Bo D'Or: "Did I hear Baroness Scotland refer to the Nat West Three as the ENRON THREE ?"

Would not surprise me in the least. The woman is clearly challenged about which Day of the week it might be, let alone the time of day. I just heard her on Sky one describing John Prescott as 'a fine politician' for whose work we should all be grateful! I kid you not. Her expression was straight out of that politicians' deadpan serious contrived sincere pigeon-hole and frankly I found it bloody hilarious. I actually burst out laughing. Where the hell to they get people like that from?

Anonymous said...

Weren't the Tories the "pro-US" party, who used to take the line that America is Always Right Come What May and Labour once upon a time the US-bashers. How things have changed! But seriously, are we all supposed to fall over weeping about these three bent bankers, who set up a deal whereby they got their Enron mates to flog off a company cheap, bought into it, then re-flogged it for a handsome profit? The Daily Torygraph has gone into full-blown hysteria over it. Seems like the basic rule here is "if you're big in the City you're OK" regardless of what you do. So in that sense at least the true-blues are sticking to their old line and the US is just in the way. If these were a bunch of bent taxi drivers or Labour councillors, the hypocrites in the New Blues wouldn't be batting an eyelid. But three dodgy city gents - call out the humanity police! Mob Grosvenor Square. Get jolly agitated and summon Boris Johnson so that he can be jolly agitated too! These are public school boys and they worked for a bank! The fact that they are a bunch of theiving barrow boys (as are most of the rest of the people who work in banks in my humble experience) shouldn't enter our thoughts for a moment!

Francis Walsingham said...

Peter from Putney - re. the RBS/NatWest "document" that might get these three off, that may or may not be the case.

A fruitful line of enquiry may be to consider whether and in what respects RBS would be embarrassed about being ripped off, and if so whether, even if it were ripped off, it would cooperate with any criminal prosecution.

Beau Bo D'Or said...

Verity - I think the Baroness Scotland quote was on Adam Boulton this morning.

Anonymous said...


The class war that people like you tried to whip up finished a long time ago... Let's not insult people's intelligence by diverting their attention away from events back in the real world, eh?

What's wrong with defending the rights to which we are all entitled? It sounds like you have an aversion to seeing justice taking place in a fair way, particularly when it comes to a trio of nasty, money-making capitalists (ooh, the nasty so-and-sos!).

This issue has particularly come to light because of the basis of the 'case' for which they are being extradited. Simply, it has none. Any alleged crime was committed in the UK. Our authorities weren't interested in pursuing a 'case' and there are documents from the FSA and RBoS which affirm that there were no illegitimate undervaluations on the part of the trio.

But you knew that, didn't you? So this is just about 'getting one over' on those more successful than you, isn't it? This is 'just desserts' for a group of people who you despise whatever. The 'means' by which justice is done doesn't matter to you, so long as the 'end' fits your agenda.

You're just another raving NuLabour activist, blind to the reality that the Sun really doesn't shine out of the Dear Leader's arsehole (though his words often come out of it).

Do us a favour and drop back to the political sidelines, eh? There's a good lad ;)

Anonymous said...

Nat West is a bloody awful bank.
It's about time it got its come- uppance.

Anonymous said...

I have no particular problem with the UK suspending the treaty since our Senate has been so laggard in ratifying it. But can we at least strive for a little more accuracy and eschew the canard that the US has had a general stance against extraditing IRA terrorists? The old extradition treaty between the US and the UK was amended after a fierce fight in 1986 precisely to curb the judicial abuse of the political offence exception to our extradition laws and make it easier to extradite IRA men. And after 1986 attempts to extradite IRA men were almost always successful. Both Liddle and Boris Johnson have claimed, ridiculously, that no IRA suspect has ever been extradited from the US. Judging from the Times article, Liddle finally had it explained it to him that this was not so, but he still ignores the great change wrought in 1986 and claims they were "almost never" extradited. One of the men he names as having been sheltered in America, Peter McMullen, was extradited into British custody in 1996. Moreover he was kept in jail for the 9 years he fought extradition.

Anonymous said...

Following "Francis Walsingham"s comment "whether and in what respects RBS would be embarrassed about being ripped off,", since RBS are never embarassed to rip off their customers, why on earth would they be embarassed to be ripped off themselves?

The NatWest three are innocent. Not. BTW, has anyone noticed that there are no riots in the streets to defend them? Evidently the only thing that would be more politically popular than deporting bankers would be deporting estate agents. And possibly members of her majesty's parliament starting with the ministers of the crown.

marcuse said...

I think that the fact that the treaty only applies in one direction (because the US hasn't ratified it yet) is an injustice. Also I don't agree with undermining the basic principle that the extradition authorities should prove that a reasonable case exists against you in order to get extradition.

However I feel uncomfortable with this simplistic arguement that "the crime was against a British compoany (NatWest) and occurred on British soil". In cases of corruption (like this is alleged to be) there are normally a number of victims. If these directors were engaging in corrupt practices with the Enron crew then they were not only breaking UK law and defrauding their own shareholders, but also breaking US law and defrauding Enron shareholders too.

In fact they may have been taking advantage of grey areas of our own law. If there is a valid case against them in the US, and our own Crown Prosecution fails to make a case against them in the UK it does not follow that they should not be extradited.

Anonymous said...

'Anonymous' (Christ, I wish you'd all have the decency to at least attribute something as an author's title to your posts),

Since when did anybody in this country protest about anything other than things involving blood being sprayed about (foxhunting, the Iraq war, demanding beheadings etc)?

Besides, most protests are preferred to be in London. Getting there's a bastard. Have you been on the M1 lately? Nice to see Prescott's transport promises worked out well, eh?

Francis Walsingham said...

Anonymous - there's a reason why RBS aren't releasing the document. And it's not because releasing it would help the NatWest Three.

Anonymous said...

Beau Bo D'Or - I don't think Sky or Adam Boulter's producers would stealth edit, but if there's anyway of getting a screen grab, it might be a good idea. I don't know how to do it, but she may have jeopardised the case.

I say this because this woman has been promoted several levels above her level of incompetence and is too dumb to understand that government ministers shouldn't pre-judge cases, especially in matters of extradition of our citizens.

Vol Abroad said...

I am American - so I'm a little concerned with all the vitriol about the US justice system. Yes, the sentences are high, but the system is common law, just like here. They'll have a judge and jury.

This NatWest Three won't be treated like Guantanamo prisoners. They will appear suited and booted when they have their day in court. (Occasionally prisoners are led before judges for arraignment in the cute orange outfits provided by the state - and my own brother once pled out on a charge of public intoxication thus besuited, but it's not the rule).

The uproar about the Guantanameras - remember -is that they're outside the reach of the US Justice system. Guantanamo is an aberration - a perversion and NOT the rule.

Save your vitriol for the Labour government that actually passed this stupid law in the first place and would hand British citizens over to not just Americans but to our friends on the Continent who won't see fit to provide you a) speedy justice or b) a trial by jury.

Anonymous said...

Being but a simple man I fail to understand how Phoney Tony and his bunch of chancers can allow this extridition whilst resisting every attempt to extridite people wanted for murder,bombing and terrorist acts in other countries.

Davide Simonetti said...

I agree. As I commented on Boris Johnson's Blog which has been posting about this, this extradition treaty is an absolute disgrace and it should never have been signed.

This has nothing at all to do with left/right politics, but everything to do with justice and treating citizens fairly. I hope something can be done for the NatWest3 before its too late.

Anonymous said...

The Beeb today reports that..The UK government will send a minister to the US to plead with the government to ratify an extradition treaty.... That's this coming Thursday (a bit late I fear!), but don't get your hopes up, as the minister they are sending is Baroness Scotland who, by the time she arrives, will have forgotten the topic.

Anonymous said...

So, vol abroad, it's all right to send people to prison for half their lives because they were tried by an american judge and jury according to 'common law'.

Apparently the 'Enron Three' face twenty odd years each in prison if they're convicted of whatever they are going to be tried for. Where's the justice in a system that hands out such hideous sentences? Don't people realise that a criminal conviction in itself is considerable punishment to most people - it dogs you for the rest of your life. To send a person to prison for more than a few months (especially an american prison) is grotesque unless he needs to be locked away to protect people from him. (I would have thought it amounts to cruel and unnatural punishment and weren't we told that we were protected from such by the HRA.) It would be kinder to execute a person than subject him to such an ordeal. I would certainly prefer to take my chances with the next world than languish in this one in such conditions.

'Cute orange outfits' indeed. Is there no end to american self-congratulation? Damned Manicheans! You're either all good or all bad under such a system and if you're all bad you deserve nothing, because you're no longer a human being. If I were one of the Three I would be using some of my money to get the hell out of this country while I still had time. That nice Mr Nadir might have a room to let in Cyprus.

Man in a Shed said...

I'm with Boris and Davide on this. Its a bloody disgrace - I've posted on it a few times. Thanks for picking up on Baroness Scotland - I don't know how she sleeps at night having taken the line she did on Radio 4.

Anonymous said...

Indeed, we do have arrangements with EU member states, the European Arrest Warrant and the European Evidence Warrant. There is no need for all this extradition palaver. No doubt all those people who think Brits get chucked into gaol on sight in Texas prefer that.

Somebody mentioned the European Court of Human Rights. It has already ruled against the NatWest 3.

Anonymous said...

Verity and Beau Bo d'Or: the Baroness refers to the three as "the NatWest - or Enron - Three" in print in an article signed by herself in the FT yesterday.

purplepangolin said...

I think it's outrageous that these men are being extradited. At the very least the Americans should be required to establish a prima facie case. Even if these men are ultimately found innocent the trial will bankrupt them.

marcuse said...

To vol abroad: I don't think we are worried that they will be put in orange jumpsuits and denied fair process. We are simply worried that with the US jury system they may be denied a fair trial, because they are British subjects and from our past observations the US juries tend to act emotionally rather than on facts, especially when the defendant is (i) rich, and (ii) foreign, and (iii) there are old or sick witnesses who can come forward and tell the court how they lost their life savings.

Anonymous said...

I am English. My father has been an entrepreneur most of his life and has worked in Britain and the USA. I can explain why the UK authorities showed no interest in prosecuting the NatWest Three. To do so, I'd like to draw your attention to a big difference between Britain and the US. Britain developed over hundreds of years with a ruling, aristocratic class. As mercantilism and the service sectors (such as banking) developed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it became acceptable for aristocrats to invest in these sectors because they came to be considered gentlemanly. However other business, such as industry, was never regarded gentlemanly and therefore was of little concern to the ruling class. Britain over the centuries has escaped the dramatic upheaval that many other nations have undergone. We have not been invaded since 1066 and our monarchy still exist. Relationships and interconnections have been allowed to build up amongst those that rule, undisturbed. Close relationships were given more chance to foster because the government and the service sectors were, and are, based in the South East of England. Members of the government and bankers could often be members of the same Gentlemans Club.

Britains evolution therefore has favoured the service sectors to the expense of industry. This is made evident, not only by the governments gradual sacrifice of Britains industries in favour of the service sector, but also by a bias within the legal system.

There are many instances in Britain, of a Bank placing a business into receivership and selling that business very cheaply. The ex-owner is ruined, and the wealth shifts elsewhere in suspicious circumstances. Accountants benefit by receiving substantial fees. There is no shortage of cases that would seem to be blatant fraud. But in these cases, the bank appears party to the fraud.

As a British person aware of, and with some experience of these issues, I will suggest a possible reason why there has been no interest in prosecuting the NatWest Three in Britain. The NatWest bank is the victim, but its three ex-bankers could have been involved with, or knowledge of, similar crimes where the bank was a perpetrator. If the NatWest charged the three, all manner of things may come up in court. Likewise, the British authorities have little inclination to charge the three because it could serve to damage established relationships. The expression "Old ties bind" comes to mind.