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Tuesday, 12 January 2021

UK tech tycoon should not be extradited to US over $5bn fraud case because UK has 'surrendered sovereignty for too long', UK ex-lawmaker says

 A British tech tycoon at the centre of a £3.7bn fraud case should not be extradited to the US because the UK has 'surrendered sovereignty for too long,' ex-Cabinet ministers have said. 

Electrical engineering expert Michael Lynch is facing fraud charges in the US, as authorities claim he overstated the value of his software company before it was sold to Hewlett-Packard (HP) in 2011.

HP purchased Mr Lynch's company, Autonomy, for $11bn (£8bn) in 2011, but the company is seeking damages of around £3.7bn in London's High Court.


Ahead of an extradition hearing next month, former senior ministers and business leaders, including one-time Brexit secretary David Davis, as well as Sir John Rose, former chief executive of Rolls-Royce, have rallied in support of Mr Lynch.

They warned the 55-year-old faces 'a decade in prison,' if extradited and convicted.  

Michael Lynch, 54, sold his software company Autonomy to Hewlett-Packard (HP) in 2011 in an $11billion (£8.5million) deal - but faces 17 charges in the US including wire fraud, securities fraud and conspiracy to defraud

Michael Lynch, 54, sold his software company Autonomy to Hewlett-Packard (HP) in 2011 in an $11billion (£8.5million) deal - but faces 17 charges in the US including wire fraud, securities fraud and conspiracy to defraud

A joint letter published in The Times today read: 'The Serious Fraud Office considered the case involving Mike Lynch and decided there was nothing worthy of prosecution.

'The High Court picked over the issues for 10 months. The British legal system is quite capable of dealing with this. But our extradition treaty with the US can mean none of that matters.'

The letter warned that the treaty meant 'any British businessman or woman who finds themselves at odds with a powerful US company could face the same fate'.

It added: 'That means facing a system where prosecutors cut deals offering their own witnesses immunity, while those who want to testify for the defendant risk being dubbed 'co-conspirators' and prosecuted. This is not justice.'

Former Brexit secretary David Davis is among the ex-ministers and business leaders who have called for Mr Lynch to not be extradited. A letter published in The Times argued the 'British legal system is quite capable of dealing with this'

Former secretary of state for the environment Lord Deben is among the signatories of a letter warning Britain's extradition treaty with the US puts British entrepreneurs at risk if they 'find themselves at odds with a powerful US company'

Former secretary of state for the environment Lord Deben is among the signatories of a letter warning Britain's extradition treaty with the US puts British entrepreneurs at risk if they 'find themselves at odds with a powerful US company'

Autonomy, which specialised in software to sort through large data sets, was sold for $11bn, but the sale resulted in heavy loses for US firm HP.

An extradition request for Mr Lynch, who has a PhD in signal processing from the University of Cambridge, was submitted to British authorities in November 2019.

HP is seeking damages of 5 billion dollars (£3.7 billion) from Mr Lynch in a civil case in London's High Court.


He claims any loss was down to the tech giant's mismanagement of the acquisition.

At a previous hearing in February last year, Westminster Magistrates Court heard MR Lynch faces 17 criminal charges including wire fraud, securities fraud and conspiracy to defraud.

Mr Lynch, who divides his time between London and his farm in Suffolk, was barred from leaving England and Wales. Lawyers told the hearing he had already handed over his British and Irish passports.

Former minister Andrew Mitchell has also leapt to the support of Mr Lynch, who is currently facing High Court proceedings in London with HP

Former minister Andrew Mitchell has also leapt to the support of Mr Lynch, who is currently facing High Court proceedings in London with HP 

The letter, also signed by Lord Maude of Horsham, warns: 'We've surrendered sovereignty over our own justice system for too long'

The letter, also signed by Lord Maude of Horsham, warns: 'We've surrendered sovereignty over our own justice system for too long'


Signatories to the letter in The Times include four Conservative ex-cabinet ministers: former Brexit secretary David Davis, former international development secretary Andrew Mitchell, former minister for the Cabinet Office Lord Maude of Horsham, and former secretary of state for the environment Lord Deben.

Joining them is ex-Liberal Democrat MP Sir Vince Cable, who served as business secretary in the Conservative and Lib Dem coalition government.

Veteran Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge, former Barclays bank chairman Marcus Agius and Sir John Rose, former chief executive of Rolls-Royce, have also signed the letter.

The letter highlighted Boris Johnson's criticism of the UK's extradition treaty with the US.

It said: 'The Prime Minister accepts the treaty is unbalanced. The Foreign Secretary has railed against it. Politicians on all sides want it changed.

'We've surrendered sovereignty over our own justice system for too long. 

'The Government cannot stand by as another Briton risks being delivered like this to the US justice system.'

The letter comes just over a week after a Judge Vanessa Baraitser rejected the US' request to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Assange is wanted in Washington to face 18 charges relating to the 2010 release by WikiLeaks of 500,000 secret files detailing aspects of military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The extradition request was denies amid concerns Assange, 49, would take his own life if held in a US prison. 

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