Autonomy founder Mike Lynch loses first stage in fight against extradition to US

UK Home Sec must now sign it off and then it's a High Court matter


Mike Lynch, former chief exec of Autonomy, has reportedly lost his US extradition fight at its earliest stage in London's Westminster Magistrates' Court.

District Judge Michael Snow announced his decision at a virtual hearing earlier this afternoon.

Lynch's legal team confirmed the news The Register, which is also being reported on subscription-only legal newswire Law360.

Lynch's US attorney Chris Morvillo of law firm Clifford Chance said in a statement today: "Dr Lynch is disappointed that the court has ruled against him without waiting for the High Court's judgment in the civil case that examined all these issues. Dr Lynch denies the charges against him."

The former Autonomy chief exec faces 17 criminal charges in America, all relating to wire fraud, securities fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud over the sale of his software company to Hewlett Packard. He denies all wrongdoing.

Morvillo added: "At the request of the US Department of Justice, the court has ruled that a British citizen who ran a British company listed on the London Stock Exchange should be extradited to America over allegations about his conduct in the UK."

Lynch's British legal team previously argued that extraditing him to America would breach the UK's so-called forum bar, a defence against extradition. They said the conduct that led to Autonomy's sale to HP took place mainly in the UK.

During the case's February hearing barrister Mark Summers QC, for the US government, described Lynch as part of a gang of "English thieves" who cooked up a "corporate conspiracy to fraudulently inflate the reported revenue, earnings and value of Autonomy".

The legal loss comes at a very early stage in the case. It will now go to the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, for her to approve (or reject) the extradition request. Lynch's route of appeal then goes to the High Court.

Today's surprising ruling came despite statements in court earlier this year that the outcome of the extradition case would be put on ice until the High Court delivers its ruling in HPE's long-running civil fraud case against Lynch. The IT exec's barrister, Alex Bailin QC, told Westminster Magistrates' Court: "This court has agreed to wait for the outcome of the civil trial before making its decision," to which the judge agreed.

Other news outlets reported rumours that District Judge Snow was swayed into an early ruling by arguments that High Court judge Mr Justice Hildyard would take "months" to deliver his long-awaited judgment in the civil case brought against Lynch by HPE. Lynch probably has years rather than months before police workers drag him onto a US-bound flight with a one-way ticket; however, if the extradition case outpaces the High Court litigation, the horrendously expensive civil trial (at £4m a month and counting) might be rendered pointless.

As regular readers know, Autonomy was a British homegrown software company sold to Hewlett Packard (as was) in 2011 for $11bn. About a year later HP wrote down Autonomy's value by $8.8bn and accused Lynch and his CFO of fraud.

Although Conservative former cabinet minister David Davis staged a public show of support for Lynch last year, it is unlikely Patel will block the extradition.

The Register will follow the inevitable extradition appeal to the High Court, as well as the civil litigation by HPE. Both cases are likely to end up in the Court of Appeal sometime in 2022-2023. ®

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