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McKinnon’s mum 'snubbed' by Home Secretary

Commons hearing on extradition given extra zest

Gary McKinnon's mum was unable to put a personal plea to the Home Secretary when the two met in Parliament on Wednesday.

During a break in a Home Affairs select committee hearing, Janis Sharp attempted to discuss her son's extradition case with Alan Johnson, who agreed to shake her hand before walking away in silence.

Sharp told El Reg that she neither felt frustrated nor snubbed by the encounter.

“I shook his hand & thanked him [for] halting the extradition & looking at new evidence,” she said via Twitter. “He shook [my] hand & smiled as he continued walking.”

Sharp added that the Home Secretary was probably wary "I'd do a Joanna Lumley on him", a reference to he actor's successful attempts to embarrass government ministers into changing a policy that denied the Gurkha's rights to a pension already paid to other former British armed forces personnel.

Home Office spin doctors gave a markedly different version of the encounter between Sharp and Johnson when quizzed over the incident by The Daily Telegraph. "It is not true that the Home Secretary walked pass Mrs Sharpe in silence," a Home Office spokesman said. "The Home Secretary acknowledged Mrs Sharp before going back into committee."

Sharp said she later broke down in tears, not in reaction to her encounter with Johnson but because of the plight her son faced, contrary to media reports. "The tears that flowed during the interval was because I was worried about Gary. It was nothing to do with Alan Johnson," she explained.

McKinnon's mum earlier told a committee of MPs that her self-confessed hacker and autism sufferer son would rather die than face extradition and trial to the US for breaking into government computer networks. She went on to criticise the extradition treaty between the US and UK more generally.

“We were told that this treaty was to be used mainly for terrorists," Sharp told the committee of MPs, The Daily Telegraph reports. "Surely the Home Secretary can say to America: the treaty is being abused."

Johnson - who has placed a hold on extradition proceedings against McKinnon while he considers new medical evidence - later reiterated the line that he had no discretion over the extradition process, before defending the controversial treaty. ®

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