Natwest-three banker David Bermingham pleads for extradition law changes

David Bermingham, one of the NatWest Three who spent 17 months in prison after being extradited without trial to the US in 2006, will this week call on politicians to overhaul the UK's "appalling" extradition policies with the US.

(L-R) Giles Darby, David Bermingham and Gary Mulgrew were extradited to the US in July 2006

(L-R) Giles Darby, David Bermingham and Gary Mulgrew were extradited to the US in July 2006

Mr Bermingham, a former NatWest banker caught up in the fall-out surrounding the $80bn collapse of US energy giant Enron, will tell the Joint Committee on Human Rights on Tuesday that extradition should be the last step in the criminal justice system, not the first.

In an exclusive interview with The Sunday Telegraph ahead of the hearing, Mr Bermingham said that he wants the committee, made up of members from the House of Commons and the House of Lords, to think "conceptually" about what extradition should be, rather than tinker with the existing legislation.

Central to his argument are his misgivings surrounding the controversial US-UK Extradition Act 2003, under which he and two colleagues – Gary Mulgrew and Giles Darby – were extradited to the US in July 2006.

The US Department of Justice accused the trio of advising Greenwich NatWest, the bank's investment banking arm, to sell a stake in an offshore investment vehicle to Andrew Fastow, Enron's chief financial officer, for a fraction of its actual value, which was later sold to Enron for a higher amount.

Their extradition came after much public protest, and in spite of appeals to Tony Blair, then Prime Minister, to halt it after concerns that the treaty was one-sided.

Mr Bermingham will point to figures which show that since the treaty came into effect, only 33 people have been extradited from the US to the UK, only three of whom have some claim to US citizenship. During the same period, he claims "hundreds of British citizens" have been extradited in the opposite direction.

"I am neither anti-American, nor am I anti-extradition and I will point that out quite early to the committee. This is not some form of anti-American crusade, far from it," he said.

"Extradition plays a vital role in our cross-border co-operation on matters of criminal justice but to my mind extradition should be a last step, not the first step."

Since becoming embroiled in the US justice system after charges were first laid in 2002, Mr Bermingham has become something of an expert on the extradition system, and has counselled other businessmen caught up in similar situations.

"When you understand the true consequences of extradition to not only the individual but also his family, it is the most appalling set of circumstances."

After his extradition, Mr Bermingham had to remain in the Houston area as a result of his bail conditions.He and the other two men pleaded guilty in February 2008 in return for reduced sentences of 37 months, roughly half of which were served, seven months in the US, and 10 in the British prison system following a transfer back in November 2008.