Background^ back to top
Christopher Tappin is a 64 year old retired businessman and current Kent County Golf Union President (union of 95 golf clubs in the County) from Bromley. He is accused by the US Government of attempting to export batteries from the US without an export license. The export was part of an acknowledged US 'sting' operation involving a fictitious company, Mercury Global Enterprises (MGE), set up by US agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to entrap Mr Tappin.
The Allegations^ back to top
US prosecutors maintain that Mr Tappin well knew that the batteries needed an export licence, and that such a licence would never have been granted because of the possible military use. Mr Tappin vehemently denies this, saying that he believed that the batteries were intended for the automotive industry in Holland, and that he had been assured by his client that no export licence was necessary. Furthermore, Mr Tappin asserts that as head of a UK-based transportation company, it would not have been his responsibility to obtain an export license, were one required, but rather the responsibility of the US exporter or their appointed agent.
Legal Issues^ back to top
Entrapment is illegal in the UK, but not in the US. It is uncontested that Mr Tappin's 'crime' was procured by agents of the US Government, who regularly set up fictitious companies to lure foreign businessmen into committing crimes, and then seek to extradite them.
Mr Tappin also argues that if there is a case to answer, it should be heard in the UK, since all of the allegations against him concern conduct committed on UK soil. The Vice President of the US exporting company MGE, and chief prosecution witness, is a man who deliberately instigated the 'crime' by lying and sending falsified documents, together with giving false assurances under the guise of a genuine qualified exporter, Mr Tappin maintains.
In fact, far from assisting his extradition, Mr Tappin maintains that the British police should be seeking the return of $67,000 fraudulently demanded by the fictitious company for goods which did not exist. It would appear that the MGE, in an attempt to cover up this 'scam', has deliberately targeted Mr Tappin to try to justify and deflect from, its original crime of fraud.
Current Situation^ back to top
Mr Tappin's extradition was ordered by the Home Secretary in April 2011. Mr Tappin has now lodged his statutory appeal to the High Court, a date for which has yet to be decided.
Mr Tappin is the principal carer for his wife, Elaine, who suffers from Churg-Strauss syndrome, complicated by Mononeuritis Multiplex.
Whyif evidence is available to the UK courts that prove that Tappin could not be responsible for the alleged crime, can his extradition not be halted?
Timeline of Events^ back to top
- Tappin currently awaits a hearing date for his appeal against extradition.
- April 2011 – Home Secretary ordered Tappin's extradition.
- Nov 2010 – the US indictment amended at the last minute – the Magistrate failed to take into account all Tappin's evidence as to his role and responsibilities as importer.
- June 2010 – Tappin's extradition hearing was adjourned until Nov 2010.
- 12 May 2010 - the police arrested Tappin. He was taken to Horseferry Road magistrates where he learnt he was arrested on a US extradition warrant and was sent to Wandsworth Prison overnight.
- Tappin retired as CEO of Brooklands Freight Forwarding, the import/export agent.
- April 2006 onwards – ICE uses entrapment techniques to dupe Tappin into sending over payments for a camera arm and 5 batteries to a fictitious company set up by ICE.