Three British bankers are set to fight on after a "shocking" refusal by the High Court to block their extradition to the US on fraud charges related to the Enron scandal.
Two judges ruled that extradition orders made against former NatWest investor specialists David Bermingham, Gary Mulgrew and Giles Darby by a Bow Street district judge and confirmed by Home Secretary Charles Clarke were legally valid.
Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said the decision was "nothing short of a disgrace" and the trio were being traded like "sacks of parrots".
The three men, all aged 43, are now expected to ask the House of Lords, the highest court in the land, for a final ruling.
Their case is being seen as the first major test on whether those accused of white collar crime in the UK can lawfully be extradited to the US to face trial under new provisions of the 2003 Extradition Act, which the Government largely justified as being necessary in the fight against terror.
Several other high-profile c ases are awaiting the outcome.
The three men are wanted for allegedly defrauding Greenwich NatWest, a subsidiary of British parent company NatWest, of £4.2 million.
The alleged offences, which are hotly denied, came to light following the collapse of the US energy company Enron, and led to the US government issuing extradition requests in February 2004.
Lawyers for the three argued that they, as UK citizens accused of defrauding a UK-based bank, should have their cases investigated by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), and any prosecution should take place in England.
It was contended that forcing Mr Bermingham, of Goring, Oxfordshire; Mr Mulgrew, of Sible Hedingham, Essex; and Mr Darby, of Lower South Wraxall, Wiltshire, to travel to Texas to stand trial would be a disproportionate interference with their family and private life, breaching the European Convention on Human Rights.
Rejecting the challenge, Lord Justice Laws, sitting with Mr Justice Ouseley, said it would be "unduly simplistic to treat the case as a domestic English affair".
The case had "very substantial connections with the United States and is perfectly properly triable there", and SFO director Robert Wardle was not acting unreasonably when he refused to launch an investigation in the UK, said the judge.
The three men were ordered to pay legal costs, including £44,000 to the Government.
Leave to appeal to the House of Lords must be lodged within 14 days.