Christopher Tappin Refused Bail

The wife of a retired Kent businessman extradited to the United States has described the news that he has been refused bail as "heartbreaking" and an "outrage".

A judge in El Paso ruled Christopher Tappin must remain in custody after US prosecutors told the court he may be a flight risk and a "danger to the community" if released.

It means the 65 year old from Orpington will have to remain behind bars while he awaits trial on arms dealing charges. He is accused of selling batteries for Iranian missiles, which he denies, and faces up to 35 years in jail if convicted.

Mr Tappin is believed to have spent 23 hours a day locked in his cell at the Otero Country detention centre in New Mexico since being extradited nearly two weeks ago.

Mrs Tappin, said: "This is an outrage. God only knows how he'll bear up. It's heartbreaking. I am shocked and deeply disappointed.

"He's a man of his word and is certainly not at risk of fleeing - where would he go? He doesn't have his passport or access to money. He's not a danger to anyone - he's a 65-year-old granddad.

"How is he supposed to prepare a proper defence when he's only been allowed to communicate with his lawyers from behind a plastic screen?''

Ukip leader Nigel Farage, who has known Tappin for almost 40 years, added he was "absolutely appalled'' that he had been denied bail, "but even more so that the Home Secretary has done absolutely nothing to help the situation''.

In a brief telephone conversation with his wife on Sunday night, Tappin told her he was shackled and confined in a cage for five hours before his bail hearing on Friday, a family spokeswoman said.

The president of the Kent Golf Union was escorted into the courtroom wearing an orange-red prison jumpsuit, with his feet and one hand shackled. US marshals allowed the other hand to remain free so he could use a cane he needs to walk.

Assistant US attorney Greg McDonald asked the judge to keep Tappin in jail for the remainder of the proceedings.

"The risk is not that he'll punch somebody in the face, but through the use of a computer and the knowledge he has, he might pose a danger to the community,'' Mr McDonald said.

Mr Tappin's lawyers say they are surprised and disappointed and they will appeal.