Orpington businessman Christopher Tappin blasts 'ludicrous' extradition law
IN what should have been the twilight years of his retirement, grandfather Christopher Tappin will in the next few days be manacled in leg irons and extradited to the US.
Mr Tappin, 65, and his wife Elaine, 62, were planning their holidays together when "out of the blue", he was accused by the American authorities of conspiring to export batteries for missiles to Iran.
The father-of-two denies the charges and claims he was the victim of entrapment in a "sting" organised by US government agents.
After fighting a lengthy and unsuccessful extradition fight, Mr Tappin is due to be flown to El Paso, Texas, within the next 10 days.
His last-ditch plea to the European Court of Human Rights to block the extradition was rejected today.
Mr Tappin, who lives in Farnborough Park, Orpington, said: "I'm surprised but not stunned. The ECHR will only consider my case if I was a terrorist. As a British citizen, I don't have any human rights, unless I'm going to be incarcerated without trial."
His long legal battle through the UK courts to block his removal ended in failure last month when High Court judges Lord Justice Hooper and Mr Justice Cranston refused to allow him to take his case to the Supreme Court.
Mr Tappin has persistently attacked the UK's extradition treaty with the US, which is seen by many as one-sided and favouring America.
He said: "It's absolutely disgusting, it's ludicrous in this day and age where another country can say we want someone to come over without giving any prima facie evidence, only an accusation. It's totally unacceptable."
Mr Tappin, who is president of the Kent Golf Union, will be notified by the Home Office as to when he will be extradited.
He will have to report to a police station where he will be met by two air marshals from El Paso.
Mr Tappin will then be handcuffed and manacled in leg irons for the flight to America.
In the meantime he is making final preparations with his family, including the care of his wife, who suffers from a rare auto-immune disorder.
Mr Tappin said: "She needs a lot of care and attention. I'm officially her carer. I don't know what's going to happen, but my daughter is hoping to help out. It's going to be very difficult."
He is also putting his house up for sale to foot the cost of American legal bills.
He says he has no guarantee of bail when he arrives in Texas and that it could be up to five years before he is put on trial.
If convicted, Mr Tappin faces up to 35 years in jail.
THE HISTORY OF THE CASE
In 2006, while a director for Brooklands International Freight Services Ltd, Mr Tappin was hired by a client to ship the batteries from the US to the Netherlands.
However, the company selling the batteries, Mercury Global Enterprises, was a fake organisation set up by US customs agents to ensnare people suspected of shipping weapons technology to Iran.
The US government, which has dubbed Mr Tappin a ‘fugitive’, claims he knew the 25,000 dollar batteries would be sent on from the Netherlands to Tehran, but Mr Tappin denies this.
He claims the undercover US agents told him it was legal to ship the batteries and even promised to arrange the paperwork, and he told News Shopper he is the victim of “entrapment”.
Both the client, British citizen Robert Gibson, and another man, US citizen Robert Caldwell, were convicted and jailed for two years in the US in 2007 for their part in the deal.
Mr Tappin was arrested in May last year and was initially held in Wandsworth Prison for 24 hours.