Elaine Tappin speaks as her husband is unlawfully in a U.S. Court with zero rights


Distraught Elaine Tappin is comforted yesterday by her son Neil at Westminster

Wednesday February 29,2012
By John Chapman

THE wife of extradited businessman Christopher Tappin broke down in tears yesterday as she told MPs nobody in Britain was prepared to listen to his defence.

Elaine Tappin, 62, said she could not believe her husband was not given the chance to put his side of the case before losing a two-year battle against being sent to the US.

She was giving evidence to MPs at Westminster as Mr Tappin prepared for his first appearance in a courtroom in Texas last night. He faces up to 35 years in jail if convicted of selling batteries for Iranian missiles. He was targeted in an FBI sting operation.

Mrs Tappin, of Orpington, Kent, wept as she said her family felt “incredulity, frustration, heart-rending sadness, despair and utter disbelief” as they faced an “uncertain future”.

In a written statement which she was unable to finish reading, she said: “At the heart of our despair is the fact that nobody was prepared to listen to Chris’s defence before carting him off.

“They ticked the boxes but were deaf and blind to the possibility of injustice. Chris is simply another statistic. Britain has allowed this to happen to Chris – next time it could be someone close to you.

At the heart of our despair is the fact that nobody was prepared to listen to Chris’s defence before carting him off

“I lie awake at night not daring to contemplate how Chris will fare if bail is denied him at the end of this week.”

Mrs Tappin, who is in poor health, was accompanied by son Neil when she appeared before the Commons’ Home Affairs Select Committee.

As she left Westminster, she said she had not been able to talk to her 65-year-old husband since he was extradited. The British consulate “informed us that Chris was being held in isolation, locked up for 23 hours a day, and denied access to any reading material,” she said.

It was the “cruellest blow” when her husband lost his battle against extradition.

He “was stunned and totally devastated when his appeal was rejected,” she said.

“Shouldn’t it be a basic requirement that a proper case be made out against Chris in a UK court before subjecting him to total disruption to his life, and freedom, that extradition entails?

“Isn’t that the cornerstone of British justice?”

Last week Mrs Tappin accompanied her husband to Heathrow before he was handcuffed and seated between two US marshals on a plane to Houston.

Before being forced to leave Britain under the controversial UK-US treaty, Mr Tappin said he had been failed by the Government, branding the decision to extradite him a “disgrace”.

He argued that the radical cleric Abu Qatada, who poses a threat to Britain’s national security, had more rights.

Mr Tappin, who is president of the Kent Golf Union, was due in court in El Paso for a procedural hearing last night. He was likely to be remanded in custody for three days and then attend a bail hearing, said lawyers.

He denies attempting to sell batteries for surface-to-air missiles that were to be shipped from the US to Tehran via the Netherlands.

At yesterday’s committee hearing, Attorney General Dominic Grieve QC said there were “underlying fundamental problems that are not very easy to address”. He added: “I think there’s a lack of public confidence in the US justice system.”

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