Paul and Sandra Dunham extradition: Court hears of 'shattered' lives

Paul Dunham
Image caption Paul Dunham and his wife Sandra "vehemently reject" the accusations made against them in the United States

The lives of a British couple who are fighting extradition to the US over an alleged fraud have been "shattered", the High Court has heard.

Paul and Sandra Dunham, from Northampton, appealed after the US Department of Justice sought their extradition over what the couple claim is an "employment-related dispute".

They "vehemently reject" allegations relating to expenses claims in the US.

Their barrister, Ben Watson, said the couple's health had suffered.

Mr Dunham, 58, was chief executive and president of PACE, a US company manufacturing soldering irons for the electronics industry.

He was indicted on 13 counts of fraud and money-laundering by a grand jury in Greenbelt, Maryland, in December 2011, while Mrs Dunham, 57, is accused of aiding and abetting him.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The High Court heard the Dunhams were receiving psychiatric help for severe depression and anxiety

Mr Watson told Lord Justice Beatson and Mr Justice Simon that the couple were both British citizens with a "long-established family life in this country".

'Inadequate facilities'

They had been married 35 years and had one son and five grandchildren aged between one and 15, he said.

"They were in the US for a decade from 1999 to 2009 and their lives have already been shattered by the events underlying these proceedings," he said.

"They lost their jobs and therefore the stake they had in the company in which they had worked for many years and their assets in the US, including their residential home.

"They were declared bankrupt in this country, they lost their good standing and meaningful employment opportunities and their mental and physical health has suffered severely too."

Mr Watson said these points raised an issue under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act which relates to private and family life.

"But what tips the balance, we say, is what awaits them in the US.

"There isn't a realistic prospect of bail and the facility they are most likely to be remanded to has, on the evidence, wholly inadequate medical facilities to care for Mr Dunham's mental health."

Mr Watson said the Dunhams submitted there were genuine grounds to doubt the good faith of the allegations made against them.

This was not a criticism of the US authorities but the complainant, he said.

'No case'

The couple say they first they knew about a criminal complaint was when they were arrested under an extradition request in November 2012.

They say that all the expenses payments they received were properly accounted for and approved, and insist there is no case to answer.

After hearing argument on behalf of Mr and Mrs Dunham and the US Government, opposing their appeal, the judges reserved their decision to a date to be announced.

Lord Justice Beatson said the court would give its ruling as quickly as possible.

After the hearing Mr Dunham said he and his wife were undergoing "psychiatric help" for severe depression and anxiety.

"Our lives have been destroyed," he said.

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