Press Release by: Free Babar Ahmad
published: 21st November 2011
One hundred leading barristers and solicitors have signed an open letter to the Leader of the House of Commons, Sir George Young, requesting a full parliamentary debate on the issue of putting Babar Ahmad on trial in the UK. The lawyers, who include Michael Mansfield QC (Tooks Chambers), James Wood QC (Doughty Street Chambers), Kirsty Brimelow QC (Doughty Street Chambers) and Karen Todner, solicitor for Gary McKinnon, stated:
“It is concerning when Parliament dismisses the concerns of over 140,000 people who have called for this debate. Far from being “an important way of empowering people”, such a conclusion will only further alienate a public whose goodwill is being taken for granted. The petition to put Babar Ahmad on trial in the UK must be debated in the main Chamber of the Commons, whether the government like it or not. It is not just the liberty of Babar Ahmad at stake but the sovereignty of our criminal justice system.”
Ashfaq Ahmad, father of Babar Ahmad, today reiterated his call for his son to be tried in the UK.
“Now that 100 of the UK’s most brilliant legal minds have added their voices to the call for the Government to respect the wishes of almost 141,000 people, I believe that there is no other option but to allow MPs to properly debate and vote on putting Babar on trial in the UK. The people have spoken, the lawyers have spoken; now let the MPs speak.”
For further information or to arrange an interview, visit www.freebabarahmad.com or the official Facebook page www.facebook.com/pages/Babar-Ahmad/170108582117 . You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 07585355581.
Notes to Editors:
1. The letter from the lawyers can be viewed at www.freebabarahmad.com/downloads/epetition_100_leading_lawyers_statement.pdf
2. The e-petition can be viewed at www.epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/885.
3. A complete timeline of Babar Ahmad’s case from the moment he was arrested on 2 December 2003 can be viewed at www.freebabarahmad.com/the-story/timeline.
4. On 1 November 2011, Mr. Dominic Raab MP, requested a full Commons debate on extradition. His motion had cross-party support in addition to the backing of the respective chairs of the Joint Committee on Human Rights and the Home Affairs Select Committee. Mr. Raab referred to the fact that at that point, over 70,000 people had signed the petition to put Babar Ahmad on trial in the UK. The Committee rejected Mr. Raab’s request in favour of a request for a debate on cheaper fuel on the basis that over 100,000 people had signed an e-petition calling for it. Over 30,000 more people have now signed the e-petition for Babar Ahmad than that for cheaper fuel.
5. Babar Ahmad is the UK’s longest detained-without-charge British Citizen having been in prison since 05 August 2004 (over 7 years). He is held under the UK’s controversial Extradition Act 2003 which allows British Citizens to be extradited to the U.S for alleged offences that took place in Britain. The CPS has repeatedly declared that there is ‘insufficient evidence’ to charge Babar Ahmad with any criminal offence whatsoever.
6. During his arrest in London in 2003, Babar Ahmad was violently abused by Metropolitan Police Officers. He sustained over 73 injuries. In March 2009, the Metropolitan Police admitted carrying out this abuse and paid him £60,000 compensation. The 4 police officers responsible were later found not guilty of this abuse in June 2011, following a 5 week trial at Southwark Crown Court. At the conclusion of that trial, the Recorder of Westminster, Judge Geoffrey Rivlin QC, said about Babar Ahmad’s case, “I express the hope that the ordeal of a man in detention in this country for a number of years without trial is brought to an end as soon as possible…”
7. On 22 June 2011, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights explicitly raised concerns over Babar Ahmad’s case in its report in ‘The Human Rights Implications of U.K extradition policy’ and recommended that the government urgently re-negotiate the UK- US extradition of individuals in Babar Ahmad’s position.
8. The Free Babar Ahmad campaign rejects the findings of the Home Office’s review into the UK’s extradition laws which is peculiarly at odds with the findings of the JCHR.
9. Babar Ahmad’s final appeal is still being deliberated by the European Court of Human Rights which is to deliver judgement by the end of 2011.
10. Babar Ahmad is represented in his extradition case by Ms Gareth Peirce of Birnberg Peirce & Partners.