Background^ back to top

Ian Norris was the recently retired Chief Executive of UK engineering group Morgan Crucible when he was indicted in 2003 by a Philadelphia Grand Jury on multiple counts of price fixing and obstruction of justice. His extradition was requested by the US in 2004, and became, together with the NatWest Three and Gary McKinnon, one of the most important legal cases under the Extradition Act 2003.

The Allegations^ back to top

Norris was indicted on one count of price fixing, and three counts of obstruction of justice, in relation to the admitted fixing of prices of carbon products during the period 1989 to 2000. Since price fixing was not a crime in the UK during this period, the Crown Prosecution Service, acting on behalf of the US Government in the extradition proceedings, translated the price fixing count into a UK equivalent offence of 'conspiracy to defraud'. The obstruction counts alleged that Norris had conspired with others to interfere with an SEC and Grand Jury investigation in the US into the price fixing at Morgan's US subsidiary.

In a bitter irony, it was Norris himself who had reported the company's cartel activity to the European Union, and his indictment in the US was the consequence of testimony given by two former employees who had been fired, and were themselves indicted. The US subsidiary had entered into a plea agreement with the US prosecutors in relation to its conduct, and several US employees had been granted immunity from prosecution in return for their co-operation.

The Extradition Battle^ back to top

After the NatWest Three failed to have their case heard by the Supreme Court, and were extradited, Norris himself lost in the High Court but was granted permission to appeal to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that he could not be extradited on the price-fixing allegation, but remanded the case back to the lower court to decide whether the extradition could properly be brought just on the obstruction counts alone. The magistrate ruled that it could, and Norris then appealed all the way to the Supreme Court once again, arguing that since the obstruction counts were subsidiary, it would be disproportionate to extradite him to face trial just on those counts. The Supreme Court disagreed.

Extradition and Trial^ back to top

Norris was extradited in March 2010, and invoked his Speedy Trial Act rights to ensure that the case was not drawn out. In July 2010 he was found guilty of one of the three counts of obstruction of justice, and was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Imprisonment^ back to top

Ian Norris is currently incarcerated in the Rivers Correctional Institution, a privately-managed facility of 1,500 inmates in North Carolina, of whom over 90% are Hispanic and speak little or no English. Although aged 69 and with significant health issues, he has received no specialist medical treatment during his incarceration, and the facilities at Rivers are rudimentary at best.