Diamond Jubilee celebrations must finally bring freedom and justice for Gary McKinnon
31st May 2012
David Burrowes writes for the Daily Mail...
The last time this country celebrated a Diamond Jubilee, in the reign of Queen Victoria, a well-known resident in my local area of Southgate was the toast of all London.
It was the tea magnate Sir Thomas Lipton who sponsored the 1897 London celebrations, which included free bottles of ale and pipe tobacco.
This time I am afraid I cannot find a constituent to match Sir Thomas’ generosity but I can provide another constituent who matches the traditional meaning of Jubilee celebrations. His name is Gary McKinnon.
Gary McKinnon has spent ten years of Her Majesty’s reign with his life hanging on the decision whether to extradite him to the U.S.
His Asperger’s Syndrome and mental illness mean that doctors judge him as a very high risk, if not a virtual certainty, of suicide if he is to be extradited.
The decision is now in the hands of the Home Secretary who is required to conclude her review of the medical evidence before a High court hears the case in July.
Gary’s mother Janis Sharp has fought every step of the way for her son and has gained support at the highest level.
In 2009 David Cameron said he saw ‘no compassion in sending him away to serve a lengthy prison sentence, thousands of miles away from his home, his family and his friends’.
And also Nick Clegg said in 2010 that it would be a ‘travesty of justice’ to extradite Gary and ‘leaving him to rot on the other side of the Atlantic is nothing short of cruel’. So what has all this got to do with the Jubilee?
Last month Gary’s mother asked the Queen, in her Jubilee year, to ‘bring an end to my son’s ten year ordeal’.
Janis Sharp drew upon the Queen’s prerogative power of mercy, which has only really been used to save someone from execution at the scaffold or for a sentence miscalculation. It is not far off where we have got to with Gary.
I told Parliament earlier this year that the extradition of Gary would be tantamount to his execution and Damian Green, now the Minister responsible for Extradition, agreed in 2009 when he described him facing ‘an explicit death sentence’.
The Queen will be minded to rely on the Home Secretary to make the right decision. But does not the Jubilee demand more?
Although it may be far from most revellers minds at the street parties and entertainments over long the weekend, the Jubilee originates from
A Jubilee year (normally 50 years) would result in slaves and prisoners being freed.
The year was full of celebration, in a different manner but just as joyous as the parties this weekend, but it had a deeper meaning with a celebration of dignity and freedom - the principle that no one had the right to take advantage and enslave anyone.
Gary McKinnon is a slave of the unfair extradition process which has sold away his rights as a British citizen to a foreign land.
Gary’s call is a Jubilee call for freedom and justice not impunity; for a trial here– the country of his citizenship, the country where the offences were committed and the country where a domestic police investigation took place ten years ago.
As we celebrate the Jubilee I hope that we will witness an end to the ‘cruel’ prospect of extradition for Gary McKinnon and see the ‘compassion’ spoken by the Deputy Prime Minister and Prime Minister.
It would be worthy of a toast bigger than in 1897 and would be led by Gary’s mother Janis Sharp who wrote: ‘This compassion for a vulnerable man from the Monarch of our Nation would surprise and touch the hearts of everyone and would make all parents, including those of disabled and mentally challenged children, feel that they mattered.’