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UK Home Secretary delays Autonomy founder extradition decision to mid-December

Could be a Christmas surprise in store from Priti Patel

Autonomy Trial Autonomy founder Mike Lynch's pending extradition to the US has been kicked into the long grass again by the UK Home Office.

Lynch is wanted in the US to stand trial on 17 charges of fraud and false accounting. He is alleged to have defrauded Hewlett Packard investors over the sale of British software firm Autonomy in 2011.

Westminster Magistrates' Court late last week formally allowed the Home Office another three weeks to make a decision about whether to extradite the British business executive.

Home Office spokesman Matthew Hunter confirmed to The Register today that an extension has been granted until 16 December, saying: "Extensions for making a decision on any given case can be made under the Extradition Act 2003. The Home Secretary is giving full consideration to the issues raised in this case. It would not be appropriate to comment further at this stage."

Although there is a statutory time limit for decisions to be made in extradition cases, there is no ceiling to the number of times that limit can be extended. Lynch's case has been extended several times since District Judge Snow's July decision to order the exec's extradition.

The US criminal trial is slowly getting started, with Lynch's co-defendant Stephen Chamberlain (former Autonomy finance VP) demanding evidence disclosure from UK financial analysts – and the US hitting back by similarly targeting managers of Lynch's Darktrace venture.

Extradition cases start with a country formally demanding a person is sent there to stand trial for a criminal offence. A magistrates' court makes a ruling which is then confirmed or denied by the Home Secretary. This is where Lynch's case is currently at. The Home Sec's decision can be appealed to the High Court and then the Court of Appeal.

As reported last week, Lynch's extradition case appears to be awaiting judgment from High Court judge Mr Justice Hildyard. Home Office barrister Rosemary Davidson told Westminster Magistrates' Court last week – on 25 November – that Hildyard's ruling was now expected by January.

The long-delayed High Court judgment has seen multiple rumoured deadlines come and go; the earliest was "end of Q1" 2021.

Hildyard – who presided over the $4.4bn civil case between Hewlett Packard Enterprise (as it's now called), Lynch, and Autonomy ex-CFO Sushovan Hussain – is rumoured to be delivering a draft judgment to each side's lawyers in December. Formal hand-down of the final document is due by January or February next year.

Lynch's extradition was formally ordered by Westminster Magistrates' Court earlier this year when District Judge Snow rejected the entrepreneur's legal arguments against being sent to the US to stand trial. Notably, Lynch's barrister Alex Bailin QC said during the extradition hearing: "This court has agreed to wait for the outcome of the civil trial before making its decision."

It is not yet known what caused Judge Snow to change his mind and rule earlier, his full July ruling containing few hints.

Lynch is expected to appeal against any Home Office order that he be sent abroad; similarly, the US is expected to appeal if it doesn't go its way.

The High Court and extradition cases continue. ®

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