Theresa May has announced that extradition to the United States is “incompatible with [Mr. McKinnon’s] human rights”. This is, according to the BBC’s Clive Coleman, the first time a home secretary has stepped in to block extradition to the US.
The home secretary then discussed the findings of the Baker Report and agreed that the extradition agreement with the US is “broadly sound” but reiterated yesterday’s desire for reform with regards to the European Arrest Warrant.
When she announced the blocking of the extradition order it was greeted by cheers from the House. The decision has been universally applauded with McKinnon’s mum, Janis Sharp, thanking the home secretary for her “strength and courage” and outpourings of relief on twitter. Even the inimitable Beast of Bolsover thanked the home secretary for the decision.
The praise for the decision she took however does not stretch to Mrs. May herself. David Allen Green criticised the home secretary for using the Human Rights Act that she has so often attacked. The home secretary has also been attacked by Liberty for having double standards, saying that these standards had not been applied to alleged Muslim terrorists.
Caroline Lucas has also weighed in on this strain of questioning, asking in the House about the extradition of Baber Ahmed and the disparity in decisions between the cases. Baber’s family have released a statement accusing the home secretary of “old-fashioned racism”.
In the House Yvette Cooper has expressed her support for the idea of taking decisions on human rights in extradition out of the hands of the home secretary and putting them into the high courts. Interestingly, ex-home secretary Alan Johnson has said that May made the wrong decision, claiming it was only the right decision for her party.
David Blunkett touched upon a vital issue when he expressed concern about the precedence set regarding public opinion and its potentially damaging effect on decision making.
David Allen Green expressed his admiration for the campaign to block the extradition, which he credited with creating and sustaining such public awareness over such a long period, the root of opinion Mr. Blunkett mentioned.
Despite the home secretary taking the right decision and sparing Gary McKinnon she still has many questions to answer about the standards she has and about the uneven application of law. In this case, a law she has heavily criticised in the past.