Gary Mckinnon Extradition To US Blocked By UK Home Secretary

from the hacker-stay-home dept

Way back in 2002, Gary McKinnon made his Techdirt debut when he was caught hacking into NASA and Pentagon computers from the UK in an apparent attempt to find evidence that America was covering up evidence of UFOs. Since that story, subsequent stories were done on how he basically went on an appeal-losing-tour to avoid being extradited to the United States. But now, despite all those losses, it appears the United Kingdom's version of Fox Mulder will indeed be staying in the UK and not be trotted off to the States.

UK Home Secretary Theresa May has announced that McKinnon will not be extradited due to mental illness and a fear for his safety. McKinnon reportedly suffers from both depression and Asperger's Syndrome, and experts consulting with May believe that he is a significant suicide risk if extradited.
Mrs May said: "After careful consideration of all of the relevant material I have concluded that Mr McKinnon's extradition would give rise to such a high risk of him ending his life that a decision to extradite would be incompatible with Mr McKinnon's human rights. I have therefore withdrawn the extradition order against Mr McKinnon."
Mrs May also said measures would be taken to enable a UK court to decide whether a person should stand trial in the UK or abroad - a so-called forum bar.
This move is immensely significant, as it represents the first time an extradition was blocked by a Home Secretary under the Extradition Act of 2003. As extraditions over alleged computer and IP crimes have come into vogue, with the United States leading the charge, it's a welcome sign that the UK wants to be able to review cases in which their citizens would potentially be carted across the world to face massive prison sentences (or worse). One would hope similar scrutiny would be applied in the case of Richard O'Dwyer, though Theresa May has thus far failed to do so. Instead, she has so far bowed to the will of the United States and MPAA sock puppetry in extraditing him.

To be clear, none of this suggests that McKinnon will not face a trial at home. In fact, according to May, the UK will now decide whether to bring a case against him at home.
She said it was now for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer QC, to decide whether he should face trial in the UK.
Where he can be tried without the added threat to his well-being. A foreign national, accused of computer crimes against the United States facing trial in his home country. How refreshing.

 


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Zakida Paul (profile), Oct 16th, 2012 @ 3:10pm

    This is very good news and one would hope that this prompts a review of the very one sided extradition treaty. I suspect, however, that a closed door deal as been struck over another UK citizen (like Richard O'Dwyer) in order to appease the Americans.

    What's the betting McKinnon will now get a job with MI5, MI6 or GCHQ?

     

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  2.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Oct 16th, 2012 @ 3:16pm

    So one wonders if an adviser clued her into the idea that if he committed suicide it would be the end of her career.
    That appeasing the US government hasn't really done much for their standing, and each and every overreach chips away at what little credibility they have left.

    Should he be punished for his "crimes", most likely but one really needs to honestly assess the situation. He has issues that drove this "crime" and those are the same issues that could lead to his death if they continue.

    It is nice to see that the idea of human compassion isn't completely dead in the UK, but it seems to take the possibility of more bad press to bring it to the foreground.

     

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  3.  
    icon
    usul_of_arakis (profile), Oct 16th, 2012 @ 3:18pm

    Re:

    Sadly I think the deal may have already been done with BabarAhmad & TalhaAhsan

     

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  4.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Oct 16th, 2012 @ 3:21pm

    Re:

    Not completely dead but it will be soon if the Tories continue doing what they are doing.

     

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  5.  
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    lucidrenegade (profile), Oct 16th, 2012 @ 4:02pm

    Hmm...

    So is prison shower rape happen in the UK, or is it a US thing?

     

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  6.  
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    usul_of_arakis (profile), Oct 16th, 2012 @ 4:05pm

    Re: Hmm...

    Don't understand mental illness then?

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Scott, Oct 16th, 2012 @ 4:56pm

    Re: Re: Hmm...

    I have Asperger's myself,I take it offense when people refer to illness,When it's variation of neurological types.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Joe, Oct 16th, 2012 @ 4:57pm

    and here's what Techdirt looked like back when this story came out:

    http://web.archive.org/web/20020601150408/http://techdirt.com/

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2012 @ 5:00pm

    Re: Re:

    No shit, they're already in Connecticut trying on their prison dresses.

     

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  10.  
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    nospacesorspecialcharacters (profile), Oct 16th, 2012 @ 5:29pm

    Of course, there's talk also of 'streamlining' the future extradition process. Call me a cynic but it wouldn't surprise me if a backroom deal had been done to let this little fish go with a promise that the spineless UK goverment will conduct a favourable review of the process and make it more efficient.

    Quick and easy PR win for May, easier assimilation of US law into UK for the World Police. Everyone's happy, go back to sleep people!

     

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  11.  
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    PT (profile), Oct 16th, 2012 @ 5:33pm

    Applause

    Wow, a government pays attention to public opinion! There's hope left in the world after all.

    The Guardian blog mentions, though, that Theresa May is looking nervously over her shoulder at the rabid Daily Mail tabloid.

     

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  12.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Oct 16th, 2012 @ 5:49pm

    Re:

    That was pretty cool, how the site has changed. Thanks for that.

     

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  13.  
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    TheLoot (profile), Oct 16th, 2012 @ 5:58pm

    As long as they are dragged into court, it doesn't matter.

    If they'll be charged with something in the UK, they won't need to extradite them, and will take the credit for prosecution.

    If they can't, or won't, be charged in the UK, they'll happily send them elsewhere for diplomatic brownie points.

     

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  14.  
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    Zos (profile), Oct 16th, 2012 @ 6:07pm

    ...ok, but what happened to the file sharer? o'dwyer?
    haven't heard anything about him lately. kind of a kick in the teeth if they extradite him, but hold onto the kid who hacked the pentagon.

     

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  15.  
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    lucidrenegade (profile), Oct 16th, 2012 @ 6:08pm

    Re: Re: Hmm...

    That was an honest question, not a knock on mental illness.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Digitaurus, Oct 16th, 2012 @ 6:10pm

    Forum Bar

    The article doesn't mention the biggest news which is the introduction of a forum bar. From now onwards, if the US (or another country but, let's face it, it's always going to be the US) accuses a UK citizen of committing a crime whilst in the UK and wants to extradite the poor sap to the USA in order to face trial there, a UK court can prevent extradition by determining that the person could stand trial in the UK instead. This should limit the USA's ability to decide how bad it thinks a computer crime is and then impose that rule on UK citizens residing in their own country.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2012 @ 6:47pm

    Re: Forum Bar

    It should be the case for the UK citizen to stand trial in the UK rather than be extradited to another country for a crime that they commit but what happens if what they did is not a crime in the UK or not enough evidence to be charged with a crime in the UK but the country that is seeking the persons extradition is saying that they have committed a crime in their country even though the person has never set foot in that country. Should the person still be extradited to the country to stand trial for a crime that they have never set foot in such as O'Dwyer. Where do you draw the line as to who goes and who stays? Hopefully this forum will make those decisions. I thought extradition only applied to terrorists and very serious crimes of murder etc. being sought by the country that the wanted person has fled from.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2012 @ 6:59pm

    It's not that unusual to see this happen, many countries are hesitant to extradite to the US because of concerns for the safety of inmates in the US.

    That being said, I think that "being depressed" isn't a valid reason to block the extradition, and in fact, sets a horrible precedent. Don't be shocked if Julian Assange is suddenly depressed and diagnosed with some genetic issue that makes his extradition somehow the same.

    He is charged in the US, the charges stand. The UK is not doing themselves any favors here by standing up for this guy.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2012 @ 7:02pm

    Response to: Joe on Oct 16th, 2012 @ 4:57pm

    I've been meaning to ask, is there a way to get to the older TD stories? I want to browse through your story archives. :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    Scott, Oct 16th, 2012 @ 7:44pm

    Re:

    Asperger's is Autism Spectrum "Disorder". There's alot characters in media that are what are called Aspies. I was diagnosed with Asperger's 13 years ago when I was 18.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2012 @ 7:56pm

    Re: Re:

    Yes, I understand that. What do you think the chance is that Assange suddenly is is diagnosed with the same, in an attempt to curry favor with this politician?

    PS: I don't consider "aspies" to be handicapped or anything, and I think it's a poor excuse not to treat this guy as any other person would be treated.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2012 @ 10:31pm

    Re: Re: Forum Bar

    "I thought extradition only applied to terrorists and very serious crimes of murder etc."

    umm sharing 30 songs came with a fine of $675,000... I don't know anybody with that much life insurance. I'm sure there are lots of people in the US with that much life insurance coverage, but I'm also sure most(by most i mean well over half... being very conservative in my opinion here) Americans come no where close to that figure if they even have life insurance at all. Long story short, our government, along with agreement from our Supreme Court, find 30 songs more valuable then most peoples lives.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2012 @ 10:53pm

    Re: Re: Re: Forum Bar

    Actually, 30 songs could earn millions of dollars in revenue. $675,000 is actually a very small number compared to the potential market for those songs.

    The humble bundle for a a very few books is well over $500,000 of income. That says it all.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    anon, Oct 16th, 2012 @ 11:25pm

    Re:

    I think they are going to make it that if a person commits a crime while living in the UK the case must be heard in the UK, which can only be a good thing right.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    anon, Oct 16th, 2012 @ 11:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: Hmm...

    Sorry but it is an illness. where the brain is not working as it should.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    anon, Oct 16th, 2012 @ 11:30pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Forum Bar

    30 songs , lol depends on who you are talking to, if you are talking to the riaa and they are suing someone then it is worth a few million , if it is the riaa having to pay an artist it is only a few thousand dollars. If it is the tax man it is a few hundred or actually a loss.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2012 @ 11:35pm

    Re: Hmm...

    Pfft prison rape is child's play.. Don't believe me? Go buy a airline ticket and you'll see. God bless the TSA right?
    It's not like hey you get to meet Bubba at lunch. Who's Bubba? Oh he is the guy that rapes all new inmates.

    People need to wise up and realize in this era of technology about 90% of TV is bullshit.

    Still the USA needs to drop this case because the guy is an obvious head case before someone makes an ass of their self again... It might be very hard to just drop the ego and let it blow over but it's not impossible..

    With a little practice anyone can make a big change in their outlook on life and learn to show a little compassion. It's something my government is lacking... If the guy was normal sure I'd say fight it but he is obviously not.

    I say the UK should stick to their guns on this one and tell all of us here in the USA to fuck off.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2012 @ 11:55pm

    Re:

    It just goes to show who's got more power out of the CIA & NASA, or the MPAA & the RIAA

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 17th, 2012 @ 12:28am

    Hooray for people that break the law!

    It's the Techdirt way.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
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    PaulT (profile), Oct 17th, 2012 @ 12:56am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Forum Bar

    "potential"

    The word people always seem to miss in these arguments. Songs can *potentially* make that money if marketed properly. That is, it's possible but not every song does, not by a long shot. It is not guaranteed in any way, and it's extremely unlikely that the specific copies on Jammie Thomas' hard drive halted that potential in any realistic way.

    "The humble bundle for a a very few books is well over $500,000 of income. That says it all."

    Yes it does. Content that's already available both elsewhere (apart from one book, IIRC) and for free either legally or illegally still makes over half a million through that one venue. Actually more, because looking at it today it's over $800k and still has 6 days to go. Isn't that just another hint that "free" doesn't mean "can't make any money"?

     

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  31.  
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    Duke (profile), Oct 17th, 2012 @ 1:05am

    A really bad day for the rule of law

    This move is immensely significant, as it represents the first time an extradition was blocked by a Home Secretary under the Extradition Act of 2003
    There's a reason for this; the Home Secretary has very limited grounds for blocking extradition (for good reasons). The law is pretty clear; there is no free-standing power for the Home Secretary to block extradition purely on human rights grounds, meaning that this decision may be illegal.

    Now, obviously McKinnon isn't going to complain and I imagine this was all cleared with the US first, but it is still a very worrying ruling; it seems far too political. Theresa May has campaigned on this sort of situation for a while, and her decision has been pretty popular (both with the xenophobic right, who like her "standing up" to foreigners and the left, who are grateful she has finally discovered the importance of human rights law). Plus there's the suspicious timing - she has been putting off this decision for over 2 years, and yet finally announces it a week after the UK extradited a few high-profile terrorism suspects to the US, ignoring human rights issues. There are also no signs that Theresa May will use this magical new power in a couple of other, very similar current cases (where the defendants have less media support, but the facts are remarkably similar).

    Under UK law, extradition is supposed to be a judicial/legal decision, with the government only intervening on matters where state-to-state negotiations may be needed and there are good reasons for this; under the old law (where it was a political decision) you had ridiculous situations such as mass-murdering dictators being allowed to walk free (over court objections) because senior politicians didn't want to set a precedent for senior government officials being held accountable for their actions while in power... And yet here we have a Home Secretary making a decision that appears to be illegal, for political reasons.

    It may be the right result (and possibly for the right reasons), but it's a pretty terrible indication of our government's willingness to ignore the law (or exploit vague laws) when politically convenient.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 17th, 2012 @ 1:23am

    this whole episode basically showed how poor the security was at the places McKinnon hacked into. it made the US dpts concerned look bloody stupid and that isn't liked at all! the only reason the US is so upset over this decision is because, finally, for once, the UK has had the balls to say 'NO' to the US, and about time too. like everyone else, i have no idea whether the guy would have killed himself if extradited, but why take the risk over what is really a poultry amount of money? if he is prosecuted in the UK so be it. i would have thought, however, given the length of time this fiasco has been going on, he would now be left alone

     

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  33.  
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    Niall (profile), Oct 17th, 2012 @ 1:57am

    Re: Re:

    Oh sure, so when someone says something disrespectful about a certain prophet, you can get criminally tried on behalf of Saudi Arabia, even though it's not a crime in the UK. Or get tried for posting a swastika on behalf of Germany, even though it's not a crime in the UK. Or a 16-year-old marrying her Army sweetheart finds him tried because he's under the (criminal) age of consent in the US. Definitely a good thing...

    To be fair in this situation, Gary McKinnon *did* effectively commit a crime in the US, insofar as the internet can be locational. Certainly couldn't argue that US Gov't computers are in the US (hopefully)! However, this could easily get stretched ridiculously very quickly ("It was on the Internet so it was in my country!") - witness the daftness of libel tourism.

     

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  34.  
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    Niall (profile), Oct 17th, 2012 @ 1:58am

    Re: Applause

    Rapid tabloids do have their occasional uses, as long as they are safely quarantined the rest of the time.

     

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  35.  
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    Niall (profile), Oct 17th, 2012 @ 2:01am

    Re: A really bad day for the rule of law

    Or it could be the first steps in moving to a more realistic, humane and *fair* extradition agreement with the US.

     

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  36.  
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    Richard (profile), Oct 17th, 2012 @ 3:08am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Hmm...

    No it's a spectrum - evryone is on it somewhere.

    At one end there is extreme autism at the other is so called "normal" - but most people are a few clicks off that end.

    The question of how the brain "should" work is not a clear one. If everyone was at the "normal" end of the spectrum we would have fewer geniuses and humanity would not have advanced as far as it has.

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    Donglebert the Lengthy, Oct 17th, 2012 @ 3:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Hmm...

    Define "working as it should"?

    It is working as it should, just working differently. Given the subject matter of this site, I'd suggest a substantial number of contributors would figure somewhere along the autistic spectrum.

    I'm not denying that Aspergers can fit within some definitions of mental illness, but in that the effects can, in some instances, have an overall positive effect (e.g. less empathic to others, but significantly better at mathematics) the word 'illness' becomes redundant.

    Voting for Romney would be a better indicator of mental illness.

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 17th, 2012 @ 3:31am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Hmm...

    "Voting for Romney would be a better indicator of mental illness."

    Haw Haw Haw, u so funny.

    Oh wait, nevermind.

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 17th, 2012 @ 3:34am

    Does he have the same laywer as Roman Polanski?

     

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  40.  
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    Ninja (profile), Oct 17th, 2012 @ 4:26am

    A hacker can stay home but a simple student who was file sharing must be extradited.. Sounds fair.

     

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  41.  
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    Titania Bonham-Smythe (profile), Oct 17th, 2012 @ 4:27am

    Re: Re: Re: Hmm...

    Scott - would you say it is a disability?

     

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  42.  
    identicon
    Gregg, Oct 17th, 2012 @ 6:03am

    I think it's funny that the UK was going to extradite a whistle blower to Sweden for questioning in a trumped up sex charge but for person that has been confirmed of a committed crime not to be extradited.

     

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  43.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 17th, 2012 @ 8:07am

    Re: Re: Re: Hmm...

    One can argue that a lot of things -- pedophilia, e.g. -- are spectra. That does not mean that they aren't *also* disorders.

    Now that I've done a Godwin's equivalent, everyone's going to whine 'straw man', but the truth is, certain behavioural defects are intrinsically characteristic of Asperger's; those defects by their very presence necessitate the judgement that Asperger's is a disorder, albeit not a profound one.

     

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  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 17th, 2012 @ 8:09am

    Re: Re: Applause

    You can't quarantine a 'rapid' tabloid; it's too fast to catch.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 17th, 2012 @ 8:11am

    Re:

    Of the two, I'd rather protections for the hacker.

    This may sound horrid, since the college student is arguably more 'innocent', but hackers work to change the world, liberate important information, and generally undermine totalitarianism and censorship as a simple function of their very natures, while most college students end up as mindless button pushers.

    In the big scheme of things, it's clear which is more important.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    identicon
    Scott, Oct 17th, 2012 @ 9:12am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Hmm...

    More of impairment

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    identicon
    Dave, Oct 17th, 2012 @ 12:05pm

    Crikey, chaps

    The lovely Theresa can obviously recognise a vote loser when she sees one. All she needs to do now is to sort out the totally unjustified extradition approval on Richard O'Dwyer. This should be rescinded forthwith.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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