Britain’s extradition laws will be changed to include a ‘forum bar’, which would mean a court hearing has to be held to decide whether a person should stand trial in the UK or abroad, Theresa May has announced.

According to Michael Caplan QC, an extradition specialist at Kingsley Napley LLP, the move will allow judges to “determine the fairest jurisdiction for trial.”

Theresa May told MPs it would be specifically designed to ensure it does not fall foul of "delays and satellite litigation."

The move could have helped cases like those of Babar Ahmad’s, whose crimes were committed in Britain.

Julia O'Dwyer, the mother of student Richard O'Dwyer, who faces extradition to the US over copyright charges, told The Huffington Post UK the announcement was what anti-extradition campaigners had been fighting for for years.

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According to the Home Office, the changes in the extradition law cannot be applied retrospectively


"British justice for crimes committed in Britain. That is good, that is what the fight has been for. It won't benefit Richard because knowing the government they won't apply it to current cases. I went to a lawyers' meeting in London several months ago," she said.

But given the change won’t apply to previous cases, she added: "It will help people in the future but it won't help Richard."

A report released last year by parliament's joint committee on Human Rights recommended that the UK should introduce the process.

Conservative MP Dominic Raab, who sits on the committee, told The Huffington Post UK a test would be "right as a matter of British Justice but also important for the UK-US relationship, because it would help to depoliticise these cases and remove a thorn in the side of the special relationship.”

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Theresa May has announced a change in Britain's extradition laws to include a forum bar


“When you've got cross border cases where all of the alleged conduct took place on UK soil a decision about where a person should face justice should take place in open court, clearly according to UK rules, not by haggling prosecutors negotiating behind closed doors,” he said.

But retired Court of Appeal judge Sir Scott Baker, who carried out a review of extradition proceedings for the government in 2011, has said it could "create delay and has the potential to generate satellite litigation".

The move was welcomed by Melanie Riley from Friends Extradited, who said she was happy the Home Office had "listened", but cautioned on the wording.

"It's all in the wording. If they [the Home Office] say 'you would have to show the majority of the conduct has taken place in the UK’, then that's not a sufficient protection. The devil is in the detail, it depends on how this forum bar is worded but the principle of bringing one in, I very much applaud, and I'm very pleased that they've listened,” she told The Huffington Post UK.

Britain's extradition laws have been criticised for being lopsided, with critics saying the 2003 extradition agreement - designed to fight terrorists in a post-9/11 world should not allow the US to extradite UK citizens for breaking US law, even if the offence was committed in Britain, by a UK citizen.

Fair Trials International’s Chief Executive Jago Russell said currently there was a risk of the US “wielding its diplomatic power to wield long-arm jurisdiction over cases that should be tried in the UK.”

“We need a more principled and transparent approach to deciding on the right forum for trial and a back-stop power for courts to refuse extradition when the country seeking it is clearly that the wrong place to hear the case,” he told The Huffington Post UK.

“The growth of international travel and communications means many alleged crimes could be tried in more than one country but decisions about who should prosecute are currently being made by prosecutors behind closed doors.”

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  • Janis Sharp, mother of Gary McKinnon, at

    Janis Sharp, mother of Gary McKinnon, attends a protest outside the Home Office against the Home Secretary's decision not to halt his extradition to the US, in Central London on December 15, 2009. Gary McKinnon, who suffers from a form of autism, could spend life in prison if convicted by a US court of gaining access to 97 computers in 2001 and 2002 in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks. AFP PHOTO/Ben Stansall

  • Janis Sharp (2nd R), mother of Gary McKi

    Janis Sharp (2nd R), mother of Gary McKinnon, Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg (3rd R) and Liberal Democrat Chris Huhne (4th R) attend a protest outside the Home Office against the Home Secretary's decision not to halt his extradition to the US, in central London, on December 15, 2009. Gary McKinnon, who suffers from a form of autism, could spend life in prison if convicted by a US court of gaining access to 97 computers in 2001 and 2002 in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks. AFP PHOTO/Ben Stansall

  • Gary McKinnon extradition

    Computer hacker Gary McKinnon's mum Janis Sharp with a letter and flowers she is planning to give to the Queen.

  • Gary McKinnon extradition

    Computer hacker Gary McKinnon's mum Janis Sharp with his girlfriend Lucy Clark with a letter and flowers they plan to give to the Queen.

  • Gary McKinnon extradition

    Janis Sharp, holds a card signed by politicians and well wishers for her son, computer hacker Gary McKinnon, on Westminster Bridge, London, as authorities in the US want him to stand trial for hacking into top secret military computers, Mr McKinnon, from Wood Green, north London, suffers from Asperger's syndrome, says he was looking for evidence of UFOs.

  • Gary McKinnon extradition

    Janis Sharp (right) the mother of Gary McKinnon with Trudie Styler, as outside number 10, Downing Street, handing in a book and poems written by Gary, to mark the 10 years since her son's arrest on US hacking allegations.

  • Gary McKinnon extradition

    Janis Sharp (right) the mother of Gary McKinnon with Trudie Styler, as they stand outside number 10, Downing Street, before handing in a book and poems written by Gary, to mark the 10 years since her son's arrest on US hacking allegations.

  • Decision Expected On The Extradition Of Computer Hacker Gary McKinnon

    LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 16: Janis Sharp, the mother of British computer hacker Gary McKinnon, is photographed as she attends a press conference following a decision by Home Secretary Theresa May not to extradite Mr McKinnon to the US on October 16, 2012 in London, England. Mr McKinnon, who sufferers from Asperger''s Syndrome, admits to accessing US Government computers but claims he was looking for evidence of UFOs. Mrs May told MPs in the House of Commons that Mr McKinnon was 'seriously ill' and that enforcing the extradition warrant would be in breech of his human rights. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

  • Janis Sharp, the mother of computer hacker Gary McKinnon leaves her home near Hatfield, England, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012. Britain's government says Gary McKinnon won't be extradited to the United States, ending his decade-long campaign to avoid trial there over allegations he broke into sensitive military and NASA computer networks. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

  • Janis Sharp, the mother of British computer hacker Gary McKinnon reacts, during a news conference in London, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012. A British computer hacker's decade-long struggle to avoid trial in the U.S. over alleged breaches of military and NASA networks ended in success Tuesday, as the U.K. government ruled he was unfit to face charges there. Home Secretary Theresa May said she had blocked the U.S. request to extradite Gary McKinnon after medical experts concluded he was seriously depressed and that there was "a high risk of him ending his life." (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

  • Decision Expected On The Extradition Of Computer Hacker Gary McKinnon

    LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 16: Janis Sharp, the mother of British computer hacker Gary McKinnon, is interviewed after a press conference following a decision by Home Secretary Theresa May not to extradite Mr McKinnon to the US on October 16, 2012 in London, England. Mr McKinnon, who sufferers from Asperger''s Syndrome, admits to accessing US Government computers but claims he was looking for evidence of UFOs. Mrs May told MPs in the House of Commons that Mr McKinnon was 'seriously ill' and that enforcing the extradition warrant would be in breech of his human rights. (Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images)

  • Janis Sharp, the mother of British computer hacker Gary McKinnon reacts, during a news conference in London, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012. A British computer hacker's decade-long struggle to avoid trial in the U.S. over alleged breaches of military and NASA networks ended in success Tuesday, as the U.K. government ruled he was unfit to face charges there. Home Secretary Theresa May said she had blocked the U.S. request to extradite Gary McKinnon after medical experts concluded he was seriously depressed and that there was "a high risk of him ending his life." (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

  • McKinnon extradition

    Janis Sharp, mother of Gary McKinnon, arrives for a press conference at her solicitors in London today.

  • McKinnon extradition

    Janis Sharp, mother of Gary McKinnon, arrives for a press conference at her solicitors in London today.

  • McKinnon extradition

    A supporter of Gary McKinnon congratulates his mother, Janis Sharp, before a press conference at her solicitor's in London today.

  • McKinnon extradition

    Janis Sharp, mother of Gary McKinnon arrives for a press conference at her solicitors in London today.