The Times newspaper reports:
From The Times
October 17, 2009
Frances Gibb, Legal Editor
Lawyers for the Home Secretary have agreed to delay moves to extradite Gary McKinnon, the computer hacker, pending a review of fresh psychiatric evidence.
Last week Mr McKinnon, who has Asperger's syndrome, was refused permission to take his case to the Supreme Court and faced 14 days to make representations. But government lawyers have now said that they will set aside the 14-day deadline to take time for consideration of the evidence.
Karen Todner, Mr McKinnon's lawyer, said: "We do take some hope from this. It is the first time that Alan Johnson will have a proper opportunity to consider the reports in this case and it shows that he is taking it seriously. In the meantime we don't want to be hammering on his door."
Will this sort of Joanna Lumely style charm soften the heart
of the the former hardline Communist, avowed atheist, former Trades Union apparatchik and current 6th choice as Labour Home Secretary Alan Johnson ?
More detailed reporting by The Daily Mail:
By James Slack and Michael Seamark
Last updated at 1:18 AM on 17th October 2009
The Home Secretary has halted Gary McKinnon's extradition to consider new medical evidence about the computer hacker's mental state.
The Asperger's victim had been told he could be sent to the U.S. - where he faces 60 years in jail for hacking into military computers - by the end of this month.
But in an unexpected move, Alan Johnson has stopped the extradition clock.
He has asked Home Office lawyers to consider the implications of fresh evidence about Mr McKinnon's state of psychiatric health
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said: 'The Home Secretary has sat on his hands for too long, even in the face of legal advice from leading advocates that contradicts the Home Office's position.
'This new psychiatric report into Gary McKinnon's condition must persuade him that it is no longer acceptable to shrug his shoulders and claim that nothing can be done.
'Alan Johnson should do the decent thing and intervene to ensure that Gary is tried in Britain, where he committed his crime and confessed to it.'
Mr Johnson's decision to stall the extradition is highly surprising as he has always insisted he is powerless to intervene in the case - a claim hotly contested by independent lawyers.
By halting the process, even temporarily, he appears to be conceding he is at least free to consider Mr McKinnon's plight.
Campaigners will point to the fact that, if he could do nothing, there would be no reason to even study the latest 60-page medical report.
The Home Office may, however, be seeking simply to take all possible steps to avoid further legal challenges.
Rejecting the evidence outright could prompt a judicial review, or action by the European Court of Human Rights.
The consequences of Mr Johnson's actions are that, at the very least, Mr McKinnon has been given more time to fight extradition.
Is this really just a "going through the motions" political delay, until after the Glasgow East by election, which is due to be held on the 12th November, where a Labour defeat might lead to some desperate Labour party supporters to call for Gordon Brown to step down as leader, in favour of Alan Johnson ?