Golf industry rallies to support Tappin

Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir February 1, 2012 11:57

Prominent members of the golf industry are backing a campaign to support a 65-year-old man facing extradition to the US for exporting batteries to Iran.

Christopher Tappin, father of the deputy editor of Golf Monthly, Neil, was president of the Kent County Golf Union in 2010 when he was arrested for conspiring to sell the five batteries, which, it is claimed, could be used in Iranian air defence missiles. Mr Tappin was using an export company that, unbeknown to him, had been set up by the FBI.

Last month High Court judges rejected his application to have his case heard by the Supreme Court, after a district judge ruled last year that Mr Tappin should be extradited to the USA.

If convicted by a court in Texas – where he is wanted on a charge of conspiring to export defence articles without licence or approval and aiding and abetting the attempted export of defence articles without the required licence – he could face up to 35 years in prison. The jail could be the Big Spring Federal Correctional Institution, which is currently the subject of a book written by Gary Mulgrew, another British man who was extradited to the US, who stated that it was ruled by gangs.

Mr Tappin has said he believed he was exporting batteries for the car industry in the Netherlands, while his lawyers have condemned the ‘one-sided’ UK-US extradition treaty and accused the FBI of an abuse of power.

Edward Fitzgerald QC said FBI agents pretending to belong to a fictitious export company known as Mercury Global Enterprises set out to “dupe, deceive and ensnare” unsuspecting businessmen.

The case has led to criticism of the 2003 Extradition Act, in which the level of evidence required to transfer a British suspect to the US is weaker than that required to bring someone to the UK.

Some legal experts have also said that Mr Tappin could not be found guilty of the offence if he was tried in a British court.

Mr Tappin said: “I have been defrauded by a fictitious company, lied to, been given falsified documents – conduct seemingly condoned by the American authorities – yet I’m the one left fighting to clear my name. It is totally wrong.”

Michael Harris, editor of Golf Monthly, said: “I am no lawyer but I think the situation is grossly unfair. A 65-year-old man facing extradition to the US for an alleged crime that did not take place in the US, being held in a Texas jail if bail is not granted, which is highly likely, and then the prospect of a 35-year sentence to be served in America if he is found ‘guilty’.

“I know the strain the whole thing has put Neil ‘Tappers’ and his family under for the last 18 months. Tappers has dealt with it in his typical stoical style and when I went for a drink with him a couple of weeks ago, after the latest set-back, he said, ‘I’m just trying to not spend too long thinking about it by keeping myself pretty busy’.”

Neil added: “Judges have effectively condemned my dad to the mercies of the US judicial system. His legal team are trying to stop his extradition on a certified point of law but we have been warned that it is very doubtful that the extradition can be prevented.”

Mr Tappin’s cause has been taken up by Karen Todner, the solicitor fighting to stop the extradition of Asperger’s syndrome sufferer Gary McKinnon, who faces extradition for hacking into Pentagon computers.

Michael urged anyone interested in the case to email their local MP as soon as possible.

“You can help by sending an email to your MP,” he said.

“Go to and enter your postcode to find the name of your local MP.

“That will take you to your MP’s page – click on their name next to the ‘Member for this constituency’ which will bring up their contact information.

“Click on their parliamentary email contact address and cc in their constituency email address if they have one.

“Put ‘Christopher Tappin extradition plea’ into the subject line of your email.

“Cut and paste the text of the letter [detailed below] into an email, top and tail it with your name and address and hit send. The whole process should take no more than five minutes.”

Letter to your MP

From (Your Name, Your Home Address)

Dear (Your MP)

I am emailing you to ask you to lend your support to the case of Christopher Tappin.

I am sure you have probably heard of the awful position in which Christopher finds himself. On January 24th Christopher lost his Appeal at the High Court to prevent his extradition to the US for trying to export batteries to Iran without a licence.  Christopher is adamant that he knew nothing about the batteries, save what he had been told by his customer and that he had asked the US exporters to arrange the shipping of the batteries to Amsterdam. Implicit in his instructions was his understanding that they would arrange the necessary export licence.

Christopher now faces extradition to El Paso in Texas. According to a US lawyer who Chris has spoken to, bail may not be granted. If this is the case Christopher will be imprisoned in one of the most notorious and dangerous prisons in the US, full of drug runners, drug dealers and gangland murderers. (Gary Mulgrew of the NatWest Three has written a detailed and horrifying account of his experience in this prison).

He faces being locked in a cell with 80 other prisoners awaiting a trial at which it will be impossible for him to defend himself as the witnesses and experts he has consulted are too frightened to speak on his behalf for fear of being extradited themselves. He may have to wait for a very long time for such a trial under threat of 35 years imprisonment.  His best option may be to plea bargain with the result being that he will be branded a criminal for the rest of his life.

Our judges are following the Extradition Treaty to the letter of the law REGARDLESS of guilt or innocence.  The Scott-Baker Review gave no thought or showed any concern to the plight of British citizens losing their liberty, their likelihood of a fair trial and most cruel of all, the love and support of their families and close friends.

Christopher’s lawyers are intending to appeal to the Supreme Court but has been warned that it is very doubtful that they will agree to look at his case. I fear that the almost inevitable outcome will be his extradition. How can this happen to a 65 year old retired British businessman with 45 years of experience in the Shipping and Forwarding industry who has never been in trouble before and who was ensnared by a bogus US government company?

This would never happen under UK laws. The case is not sub-judice and I would welcome an urgent and substantive response as soon as possible.

I would ask you to please do what you can to help this man and his family.

Yours faithfully


Alistair Dunsmuir
By Alistair Dunsmuir February 1, 2012 11:57
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  1. Chrissy February 25, 10:17

    I’ve heard there is a support website being set up?
    This whole case is a disgrace. Shame on the UK government for being the US patsy stooges that they are. My heart goes out to Mr Tappin and his family.

    Reply to this comment
  2. maggie mcceoey February 21, 21:52

    I would like to comment and add my supprt and just tell you that I did email my MP COLONEL BOB STEWART Beckenham to
    have got a reply to tell me he agrees with the extradition and we should obey the law more or less. So if you are looking
    for some support please dont go there. I have emailed you today to say I fully support Chris Tappin and pray that Cameron changes his mind and blocks this extradition. Please remember Theresa May takes her orders from Cameron, the man who cannot find the bottle to kick out Qutada but can extradite a decent man.
    Magge mcCrory.

    Reply to this comment
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