Wellington Regina, (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department: HL 10 Dec 2008

It was sought to extradite the defendant to face trial for two alleged murders. He now challenged the order for his extradition saying that his treatment in Missouri would amount to inhuman or degrading punishment in that if convicted he would face life imprisonment without the chance for parole.
Held: The abolition of the death penalty could not be ascribed in the way described by Laws LJ, and therefore life without parole may not be abhorrent as described by Laws LJ. In extradition cases, article 3 does not apply as if the extraditing State were simply responsible for any punishment likely to be inflicted in the receiving state. It applies only in a modified form which takes into account the desirability of arrangements for extradition. On the facts of this case, it could not be said that a sentence of life without parole would be so grossly disproportionate to the offence as to meet the heightened standard for contravention of article 3 in its application to extradition cases.
Baroness Hale said: ‘I do understand the philosophical position, that each human being should be regarded as capable of redemption here on earth as well as hereafter. To those who hold this view, the denial of the possibility of redeeming oneself in this life by repentance and reform may seem inhuman. I myself was brought up in that tradition. But . . that is not the only tenable view of the matter . . there are many justifications for subjecting a wrongdoer to a life in prison. It is not for us to impose a particular philosophy of punishment upon other countries’.


Lord Hoffmann, Lord Scott of Foscote, Baroness Hale of Richmond, Lord Carswell, Lord Brown of Eaton-under Heywood


[2008] UKHL 72, [2009] 2 WLR 55, [2009] UKHRR 450, (2008) 25 BHRC 663, [2009] HRLR 11, [2009] 1 AC 335, [2009] 2 All ER 436


Bailii, HL, Times


Human Rights Act 1998 6(1)


England and Wales


Appeal fromWellington, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department Admn 18-May-2007
In extradition proceedings the accused has no right to disclosure of evidence to the same extent and of the same kind which would be available in domestic proceedings.
Laws LJ said that a prison sentence without chance for parole might . .
CitedRegina v Lichniak HL 25-Nov-2002
The appellants challenged the mandatory sentence of life imprisonment imposed on them on their convictions for murder. They said it was an infringement of their Human Rights, being arbitrary and disproportionate.
Held: The case followed on . .
CitedKafkaris v Cyprus ECHR 12-Feb-2008
(Grand Chamber) The claimant said that his rights had been infringed by the mandatory imposition of a life sentence after conviction for murder. Only the President could order the release of such a prisoner, either by exercising the power of mercy . .
AdoptedBieber (Aka Coleman) v Regina CACD 23-Jul-2008
The Court considered whether a whole life sentence under section 269(4) of the 2003 Act was compatible with Article 3. The defendant had been convicted of murdering a policeman and of attempted murder of two others.
Held: The whole life . .
CitedSoering v The United Kingdom ECHR 7-Jul-1989
(Plenary Court) The applicant was held in prison in the UK, pending extradition to the US to face allegations of murder, for which he faced the risk of the death sentence, which would be unlawful in the UK. If extradited, a representation would be . .
CitedRegina v Special Adjudicator ex parte Ullah; Regina v Secretary of State for the Home Department HL 17-Jun-2004
The applicants had had their requests for asylum refused. They complained that if they were removed from the UK, their article 3 rights would be infringed. If they were returned to Pakistan or Vietnam they would be persecuted for their religious . .
CitedNapier, Re Petition for Judicial Review; Higgs v The Scottish Ministers OHCS 26-Apr-2004
The petitioner complained of the conditions in the Barlinnie Prison in Glasgow.
Held: The conditions in the prison infringed the petitioner’s human rights against inhuman or degrading treatment and respect for privacy, and he was entitled to . .
CitedDrozd and Janousek v France and Spain ECHR 26-Jun-1992
The applicants complained of the unfairness of their trial in Andorra (which the Court held it had no jurisdiction to investigate) and of their detention in France, which was not found to violate article 5.
Held: Member states are obliged to . .
CitedChahal v The United Kingdom ECHR 15-Nov-1996
Proper Reply Opportunity Required on Deportation
(Grand Chamber) The claimant was an Indian citizen who had been granted indefinite leave to remain in this country but whose activities as a Sikh separatist brought him to the notice of the authorities both in India and here. The Home Secretary of . .
CitedPratt and Morgan v The Attorney General for Jamaica and Another PC 2-Nov-1993
(Jamaica) A five year delay in execution is excessive, and can itself amount to inhuman or degrading punishment. ‘There is an instinctive revulsion against the prospect of hanging a man after he has been held under sentence of death for many years. . .

Cited by:

CitedBamber, Regina v CACD 14-May-2009
The defendant had been convicted in 1986 of the murder of five members of his adoptive family. The judge had initially recommended a minimum term of 25 years. A later judge had suggested a whole life term. The convictions had been upheld in 2002. . .
Appeal fromWellington v The United Kingdom ECHR 19-Feb-2009
. .
CitedMcKinnon, Regina (On the Application of) v Secretary Of State for Home Affairs Admn 31-Jul-2009
Assurances for Extradition
Extradition of the defendant was sought to the US to face allegations of hacking into defence computers there. He said this would infringe his article 3 rights, saying that he suffered Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Held: The application failed. US . .
CitedBary and Another, Regina (on the Application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department Admn 7-Aug-2009
The defendants resisted extradition to the US to face charges of conspiracy to murder US citizens, saying that as suspected terrorists the likely prison conditions in which they would be held would amount to inhuman or degrading treatment or . .
CitedHH v Deputy Prosecutor of The Italian Republic, Genoa SC 20-Jun-2012
In each case the defendant sought to resist European Extradition Warrants saying that an order would be a disporportionate interference in their human right to family life. The Court asked whether its approach as set out in Norris, had to be amended . .
CitedOakes and Others v Regina CACD 21-Nov-2012
A specially constituted CACD heard sentencing appeals for defendants serving life terms for very grave crimes, and in particular, the judicial assessment of the minimum term to be served by the appellants for the purposes of punishment and . .
CitedVinter And Others v The United Kingdom ECHR 9-Jul-2013
(Grand Chamber) The three appellants had each been convicted of exceptionally serious murders, and been sentenced to mandatory life sentences, but with provision that they could not be eligible for early release, making them whole life terms. They . .
CitedThe Government of Ghana v Gambrah and Another Admn 16-May-2014
Ghana appealed from refusal of extradition of the respondent to face a charge of murder. The only sentence for murder in Ghana was death, but the government had undertaken not to impose that sentence. The district judge accepted the undertaking, but . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Extradition, Human Rights, Criminal Sentencing

Updated: 24 October 2022; Ref: scu.278663