THE PRESENT SITUATION WITH THE HOME OFFICE
In January 2010 Justice Mitting granted Gary McKinnon a Judicial Review into the decision of Alan Johnston then Home Secretary’s decision to allow Gary’s extradition.
Mr Justice Mitting said McKinnon's application "raises two stark and simple issues
- “Did the, as yet unchallenged and unqualified, evidence of Professor Turk that suicide "will be an almost certain inevitability should he experience extradition" require the defendant under section 6 of the Human Rights Act 1998, to refuse to surrender the Claimant to the government of the USA?
- Does the opinion of Professor Turk amount to a fundamental change in the circumstances previously considered by the courts and by the Defendant? Both issues are arguable; and, if the answer to both is affirmative, it is arguable that the Defendant's decision not to refuse to surrender was unlawful”
Mr Justice Mitting considered "both issues to be arguable" and that if the answers to both issues were affirmative, "then it is arguable that the Home Secretary's decision to extradite Mr McKinnon would be "unlawful".
In May 2010 the UK elected a coalition government. Gary was, in fact, part of the coalition discussions and in their ‘Coalition Programme’ document it states:
- We will review the operation of the Extradition Act - and the US/UK extradition treaty - to make sure it is even-handed.
Gary and his Family needless to say were delighted and waited for the imminent word ending their now 10 year torment.
On the 20th May 2010 The new home Secretary, Theresa May, adjourned the pending Judicial Review into the previous home Secretary’s decision The Home Office said Mrs May would re-examine the medical evidence for herself to decide whether Mr McKinnon should be extradited.
In the meantime further new and compelling evidence about Gary’s family history of mental health came to light. Not only did mental health issues with Gary precede any legal issues, but also there is a history of mental illness in the family going back generations. Gary saw a Neurologist on his seventeenth birthday because his family was worried that he was losing mental faculties his long term and short term memory was diminished and he was suffering black outs
Gary also was assessed by a further Psychiatrist, Professor Declan Murphy, who agreed with Professor Turk that suicide was inevitable concluding:
- “Gary has very significantly greater risk factors to suffer from anxiety and stress combined with depression and for them to be much more severe because of his pre-existing ASD and long standing history of anxiety which pre-date any legal difficulties. The greater contribution to Gary’s suicide risk is his ASD. That is, he now has a fixed autistic like idea which is currently unshakeable that his best outcome is to take his own life”
Further Professor Simon Baron-Cohen’s newly published research in adults with Asperger’s Syndrome reports:
- It is now recognized that Asperger Syndrome carries with it a high risk of depression and suicidal risk. In our own clinic audit, of 373 adult patients with Asperger Syndrome seen between 2004 and 2010, 58% had diagnosed depression, 63% had had suicidal feelings, and 32% had actually planned or attempted suicide. These are not trivial risks. Sadly, as reported in the Cambridge Evening News , one of our patients (a medical student) committed suicide.
The criterion set out by Justice Mitting has clearly been met
- Professor Turk’s evidence that ‘suicide will be an almost certain inevitability should Gary McKinnon experience extradition’ has been corroborated and reinforced by Professor Murphy
- And Gary’s history of mental health issues prior to any legal processes and a family history of severe mental health going back generations is nothing if not compelling.
Yet Gary McKinnon still waits.
It is nearly a year since the coalition’s promises.
It is nine years since Gary was arrested and, even though the High Tech Crime Unit were keen to bring charges, Gary was released without charge by the CPS (on orders ‘from the very top’) thus clearing the way to allow America to extradite (even though the CPS dismissed the US evidence as hearsay and inadmissible it later came out.)
In November 2010 the Home office wanted Gary to have yet another assessment by a psychiatrist and suggested an expert whom they frequently use but who has absolutely no experience of Asperger’s Syndrome/Autism.
The accepted view is that because people with Asperger Syndrome are intelligent, lack normal speech patterns and body language only a psychiatrist with particular experience of Asperger’s Syndrome/Autism is capable of assessing someone with the condition.
In an article by Professor Digby Tantam an eminent expert in Aspergers/autism he says:
- However, as mentioned by Howlin (1997), "the inability of people with autism to communicate feelings of disturbance, anxiety or distress can also mean that it is often very difficult to diagnose depressive or anxiety states, particularly for clinicians who have little knowledge or understanding of developmental disorders". Similarly, because of their impairment in non-verbal expression, they may not appear to be depressed (Tantam, 1991). :
Gary has agreed to a further assessment for suicide risk by an expert who has the necessary experience of Aspergers/Autism required to assess someone with Aspergers for suicide risk.
The National Autistic Society have written to the Home Secretary stressing that only a Psychiatrist with the specific expertise in Asperger’s should be used to assess suicide risk.
So far the Treasury Solicitor (who act for the UK government including the Home Office) continues to repeatedly insist that Gary consents to be assessed by their "General Psychiatrist" with no expertise in Aspergers.
Gary continues to agree to be assessed but assessed only by someone with the requisite expertise.
A suggestion that an expert in Aspergers "sits in" on the assessment (presumably in order to give the assesment a facade of credibility) but the same "General" Psychiatrist is charged with undertaking and writing the assesment is not only odd but is totally illogical.
Having Rembrandt in the room does not make you an artist.
Thursday, 4 August 2011
Gary McKinnon - The latest position with the Home Office