Saturday, February 25, 2012

British Freight Forwarder Loses Fight Against Extradition in Arms Case

Logistics Director Arrives in US
Shipping News Feature

US – UK – Following our coverage of the arrest and detention of British freight forwarder Christopher Tappin back in August 2010, it was postulated that extradition proceedings would take place within a fortnight. Last night at 2300 hrs a plane carrying the now 65 year old director of Brooklands International Freight Services landed in Houston who was extradited to the US on arms dealing charges.

The case has caused consternation in the UK because of the perceived inequality of the UK – US extradition situation which is very much a one way traffic and the somewhat dubious nature of the ‘arms’ involved. The actual goods involved were batteries purchased from Mercury Global Enterprises, a ‘front’ company set up by the Department of Homeland Security in 2005, the weblink to the company which we included in our previous story has now been disconnected. Tappin claims he was given the specification of the batteries by a contact and was unaware they were specifically produced for US military’s Hawk air defence missiles.

Despite several high profile public figures taking up his case, and the claim that the freight forwarders fee for the shipment realised only around £350, a paltry sum for a man of Mr Tappin’s age and wealth. Tappin also claims he was set up and sent documentation from Mercury stating the goods concerned were not subject to export licence restrictions. Tappin’s company more usually trades in exports and imports of personal and household effects for teachers and missionaries.

Tappin says he would have been happy to be tried by a British Court but fears are that the US authorities will ask for the maximum sentence of thirty five years or a guilty plea bargain which will still see him gaoled which he considers blackmail. Tappin and his supporters have drawn comparisons to the case of suspected terrorist sympathisers whom Britain has refused to extradite recently for fear they will not receive fair trials in other countries stating it is a ‘disgrace’ that the UK will hand over any and all suspects the US requires for trial.