A US lawyer has criticised Britain for refusing to extradite a known paedophile because of concerns that his human rights may be breached.
Shawn Sullivan, 43, has been wanted by US authorities since 1994 after being accused of molesting two 11-year old girls and having sex with a 14-year old in Minnesota.
Mr Sullivan was given a suspended sentence by an Irish court in 1996 after being found guilty of sexually assaulting two 12-year old girls. He has dual American and Irish citizenship, and used his Gaelic name to enter the UK. He has since married a UK Ministry of Justice official and now lives in south west London.
Under Minnesota state law, paedophiles may be sentenced to a 'civil commitment' programme for sex offenders which effectively allows for their indeterminate detention whilst they are treated. According to official figures, no sex offender committed to the programme has been released since it was created in 1994.
Mr Sullivan was initially told by a UK court and the Home Secretary Theresa May that he would be extradited to the US to face charges; however, he appealed and UK judges then sought assurances from their US counterparts that Sullivan would not be entered into the civil commitment programme and would receive a fair trial.
Human rights assurances not received
Ruling to refuse the US extradition request, Lord Justice Moses said that he had received no such assurances from US officials and that therefore any extradition could breach Mr Sullivan's human rights:
"I emphasise again that my judgment rests solely on my conclusion that the is a real risk that if extradited the appellant might be subject to an order for civil commitment within Minnesota, and that that amounts to a risk that he would suffer a flagrant denial of his rights" he said in judgement, ordering that the case be referred for further argument.
Under the civil commitment programme there is no requirement that the sexual offences were recent nor that the accused was convicted after a trial, provided that the misconduct is substantiated by credible evidence.
It raises a very divisive question over the rights of individuals, especially if they have infringed the human rights of others. Should people be tried in the country in which they committed the crime? At what point do we decide which laws we think are fair in that country? Should an American citizen who has served time for sex crimes be on our streets in the UK because we don't agree with US human rights law?