Orpington: Christopher Tappin Returns To The UK

A British businessman jailed in the United States for arms dealing has returned to the UK to serve the remainder of his sentence.

Christopher Tappin was extradited last year and eventually pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting the illegal export of defence articles under a so-called plea bargain with US prosecutors.

He was sentenced to 33 months in prison and fined over $11,000 in January.

US District Judge David Briones then recommended that Tappin, from Orpington in Kent, should be allowed to serve his sentence in the UK.

His lawyer, Karen Todner, confirmed he is now in Wandsworth prison in south-west London.

At the court hearing in El Paso, Texas, Tappin was told he would commence his sentence at the Allenwood prison in Pennsylvania.

He previously denied attempting to sell batteries for surface-to-air missiles which were to be shipped from the US to Tehran via the Netherlands.

But he later admitted that, between December 2005 and January 2007, he knowingly aided and abetted others in an illegal attempt to export zinc/silver oxide reserve batteries, a special component of the Hawk Air Defence Missile, to Iran.

The businessman who ran a company in Redhill, was originally thought to have faced up to 35 years in jail if found guilty.

The father-of-two fought against his extradition, taking his case all the way to the European Court of Human Rights in a last-ditch effort to remain in the UK.

He failed and was taken to the US in February last year, where he spent a couple of months in a New Mexico jail before being released on bail.

Tappin told reporters he almost had a breakdown after 10 ''barbaric'' days in solitary confinement and said he was deprived of food and access to the British consul.

His case fuelled the row over the fairness of the extradition treaty between the UK and the US.