Friday, 22 February 2008

Sorry for the Spin?

The Guardian tells us that the Natwest Three, sentenced to 37 months in a US jail, have expressed remorse for their part in an Enron-related fraud. They don't appear to have apologised for the outrageous PR campaign they ran against their extradition.

At the time of their extradition to face trial, the Natwest Three were portrayed by a well-orchestrated publicity campaign as victims of judicial over-reach by the US. A new treaty lowering the hurdles for extradition to the US caused unrest among British business and political leaders.

Critics of their treatment included the CBI's then director-general Sir Digby Jones, who said the trio posed "no threat to society" yet faced being "banged up in a US prison with rapists and drug addicts". When they were flown to the US two years ago, Liberty's Shami Chakrabarti described it as a case of "first they came for the white-collar worker, then they came for me".

But some legal experts now argue that the three bankers were poor examples of this extradition controversy. Luke Tolaini of Clifford Chance, who chairs the CBI's working group on extradition, said: "In the UK, we have relatively low barriers to extradition to the US and a relatively unequal relationship with the US. That remains a concern.

"But that was not an issue that really applied in this case because it seems that the evidence provided in the Natwest Three's case was significant and would have complied with the old extradition regime."

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