A US judge's decision to remand a retired British businessman in custody while he awaits trial on arms dealing charges was "heartbreaking", his wife has said.

Elaine Tappin said it was an "outrage" that her 65-year-old husband Christopher has been refused bail after he was extradited to the United States two weeks ago.

Judge Robert Castaneda ruled Tappin must remain in custody after US prosecutors told the federal court in El Paso, Texas, he may be a "danger to the community" if released.

Mrs Tappin, 62, from Farnborough Park, Orpington, said: "This is an outrage. God only knows how he'll bear up. It's heartbreaking."

Tappin has spent 23 hours a day locked in his cell at the Otero County detention centre in New Mexico since he was extradited to America.

His wife went on: "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.

"Why has the British Government allowed him to be incarcerated in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day before he's even been tried?

"Tony Blair helped the NatWest Three, why can't David Cameron help Chris?"

Mrs Tappin added: "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?"

The family have been unable to reach Mr Tappin since today's court proceedings.

During his incarceration he has so far been able to call home once after he was woken at 3am yesterday.

His daughter Georgina said they had no idea when they would hear from him again.

Speaking about her father's bail refusal, she said: "We are utterly shocked and devastated at this decision.

"Despite an unblemished law-abiding record, his pivotal role within the community in Kent and the dignity he showed when surrendering himself to the police at Heathrow, he is still being seen as a flight risk.

"Our government has done absolutely nothing to help him. We still haven't received any response at all from (the Home Secretary) Theresa May, or anyone at the Home Office, it's disgraceful and heartbreaking."

Meanwhile Mr Tappin's MP Jo Johnson said on Twitter: "Have tonight raised shocking/nonsensical decision to deny Christopher Tappin bail with W.Hague and Home Office ministers."

His UK lawyer Karen Todner, who fought against his extradition, also tweeted: "The prime minister, the home secretary and the attorney general were all asked to intervene to help mr Tappin but they didn't. (sic)"