Straw faces election challenge from hacker McKinnon’s mother

By Aled Thomas

Justice secretary Jack Straw will face an election challenge from the mother of Gary McKinnon, the hacker battling extradition to the US.

Janis Sharp’s son is accused of breaking into secret Pentagon systems and faces terrorism charges. The 44-year-old from Wood Green in London, who has Asperger’s syndrome, says he was looking for evidence of UFOs.

Ms Sharp, from Hertfordshire, who will stand in Mr Straw’s Blackburn constituency, says she blames the justice secretary for pushing though an extradition treaty with the US, and says the Labour government has eroded civil liberties.

One her Twitter page she said: “Thank you everyone 4 incredible support. I just want to be a LOUD VOICE fighting against erosion of civil liberties in our country.

“It’s all about our civil liberties being eroded under New Labour. Barbara Castle would be turning in her grave.”

Barbara Castle was a Labour MP and minister and Jack Straw’s predecessor in Blackburn.

In response to deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman’s tweet about anger on the doorstep about the Conservatives marriage tax rebate she said: “I met very angry people in Blackburn yesterday. Angry at extradition treaty, trial without jury, DE (digital economy) bill.”

If Mr McKinnon is convicted he faces 60 years in prison in America. A judicial review into his extradition will be heard at the high court in May, following a long court battle against it.

Ms Sharp said she believed she had no chance of winning in Blackburn against Mr Straw, who served as home secretary from 1997 to 2001, and foreign secretary from 2001 to 2006.