Christopher Tappin In US Court

The wife of a retired British businessman extradited to the US for alleged arms dealing broke down in tears as she spoke of her despair that nobody was prepared to listen to his defence before "carting him off''.

Elaine Tappin said she could not believe her husband Christopher, who ran Brooklands International Freight Services in Surrey, was not given the chance to put his side of the case before losing his two-year battle against being sent to America last week.

She was giving evidence to MPs in London as Mr Tappin, who faces up to 35 years in jail if convicted of selling batteries for Iranian missiles, faced his first appearance in a US courtroom.

Mrs Tappin, from Orpington broke down in tears as she described how her family felt "incredulity, frustration, heartrending sadness, despair and utter disbelief'' as they faced a "wholly uncertain future''.

In a written statement which Mrs Tappin was unable to finish reading, she went on: "At the heart of our despair is the fact that nobody was prepared to listen to Chris's defence before carting him off. They ticked the boxes but were deaf and blind to the possibility of injustice.

@Chris is simply another statistic. I now lie awake at night not daring to contemplate how Chris will fare if bail is denied him at the end of this week.''

Mrs Tappin, who has chronic Churg-Strauss Syndrome, was accompanied by her son, Neil, when she appeared before the MPs on the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee.

Just last week she tearfully accompanied her husband to Heathrow Airport, before he was handcuffed and seated between two US marshals on a plane to America.

Tappin, who had been caring for her prior to his extradition, has said he was "not very confident at all'' about his case, primarily because his UK-based witnesses will not travel to the US and the American authorities do not allow video interrogation.

Yesterday he appeared before a federal judge in El Paso for a brief five minute hearing in which he was read his rights and the charges against him. He has now been remanded in custody until a bail hearing on Friday.

His MP, Tory Jo Johnson, and UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, who has known the businessman for nearly 40 years, have asked Home Secretary Theresa May to intervene to ensure the US authorities do not object to bail.

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