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MPs back Lib Dem protest on 'unfair' extradition and agree that Blair is wrong

July 12, 2006 4:02 PM

MPs have signalled their anger at Tony Blair over the extradition to the US of three bankers to face a fraud trial. They voted to back the Liberal Democrats by a majority of 242 to adjourn the Commons early in symbolic protest at the government's extradition arrangements after a three hour debate. Leading the Debate Lib Dem Home Affairs spokesman, Nick Clegg, told MPs that Mr Blair had "short-changed" the UK by signing a "lopsided" extradition agreement.

Pressed about the issue at prime minister's questions, Mr Blair said: "In the attorney general's view, the test that is applied by the United States, the one of probable cause, is roughly analogous to the one we apply in this country." But, speaking as he opened a rare emergency debate on the issue a few minutes later, Mr Clegg said Mr Blair's claims were "simply and totally incorrect". He insisted the treaty was "unfair and imbalanced" and urged the government to ditch it. The government had admitted that the treaty was not reciprocal but back-pedalled on this position when the NatWest three case hit the headlines.