Former Hong Kong banker Ewan Launder has won an appeal against his extradition to the territory on GBP4.5 million (HK$53.5 million) corruption charges. The High Court in London rejected Launder's claim that he could face the death penalty if convicted because of possible political uncertainty after the handover. He won, instead, on a technicality and has been granted bail after having been in custody for nearly three years. Lord Justice Henry found that the Home Secretary, Michael Howard, had not decided alone to order Launder's extradition. The court found Mr Howard had been influenced by the Cabinet, which accepted that China would keep its word on retaining Hong Kong's existing laws. Lord Justice Henry told Mr Howard to reconsider his decision. 'Given the importance of the decision, and given the tension of the balance the Secretary of State must maintain between his treaty commitment and his special responsibility to the applicant, it seems to us inevitable that that anxious decision must be one for the Secretary of State personally - a heavy personal responsibility,' said Lord Justice Henry. 'It is not unknown for a minister's individual responsibility (often statutory as here), to conflict with his collective responsibility as a Cabinet member. The Attorney-General, for instance, may find himself so placed. 'Though it was not plain to us at the start of the hearing, and although Mr Alan Jones [the lawyer for Hong Kong], contested it, it became clear in the course of the proceedings that the Secretary of State's decision was dictated by a collective Cabinet decision and not his individual decision. 'Holding the clear opinion as we do that this particular responsibility is a responsibility personal to the Secretary of State in our judgment, he did not properly direct himself as to his responsibilities.' Mr Howard has suffered a string of setbacks in the courts, most recently in the Jamie Bulger murder case. The Appeal Court ruled that he had been wrong to set a 15-year minimum sentence for the toddler's killers. Launder, 60, is one of the Independent Commission Against Corruption's most wanted men. He is the former chief executive of Wardley - the investment banking arm of the Hongkong Bank. He was allegedly part of corruption involving GBP4.5 million received by one of his companies from the Carrian and Eda groups of companies. 'Sweeteners' for past and future favours for loans by Wardley were said to have been paid and when the two groups collapsed in 1982/3, they owed Wardley about GBP75 million. The alleged offences were said to have taken place between October 1980 and June 1982. Launder was arrested as he stepped off a flight at Heathrow Airport on September 10, 1993. Bail was granted with a security of GBP400,000, sureties of GBP100,000 and GBP50,000. He must also surrender his passport and report to police once a week.