An opposition motion calling for a review of the extradition treaty between the US and UK failed in Parliament on Wednesday after Labour supporters of US extradition target Gary McKinnon fell behind the party whip.
A total of 82 Labour MPs have supported McKinnon's campaign against extradition in three Commons motions tabled since 2005. But only eight defied the whips and backed a Tory motion calling for an "immediate review" of the extradition treaty. The treaty is widely criticised as one-sided because the US can request extradition from the UK without providing evidence while evidence is required in the opposite case.
Another 15 abstained, while 59 Labour MPS who previously supported McKinnon voted with the government.
As a result the motion was defeated by 290 votes to 236. The plight of McKinnon, diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome last year, and staring down the barrel of US trial followed by a lengthy spell in Federal prison, was central to the debate.
The Daily Mail, which has latterly started an an energetic campaign on McKinnon's behalf, is characteristically indignant at what it describes as the hypocrisy of "spineless" Labour MPs who deserted McKinnon's cause. It fails to note that Tory supporters of McKinnon would have likely opposed the same motion had it hypothetically been tabled by the government, and that many Conservative supporters of the motion were not necessarily backers of the UFO truthseeker turned military hacker.
This was not anything like a free vote.
Labour MPs who did cross the floor to support the Conservative motion included Keith Vaz, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, and Kate Hoey, a former minister. The other six Labour supporters were Jeremy Corbyn, Jim Devine, Lynne Jones, John McDonnell, Mohammad Sarwar and Alan Simpson.
During the debate, recently-appointed Home Secretary Alan Johnson claimed that he was only to intervene in extradition cases in a very limited set of circumstances, such as where an extradition target faces a possible death penalty sentence. He also rejected criticism that extradition procedures between the US and UK were "somehow unbalanced", the Daily Mail adds. ®