A British judge has ruled that millionaire businessman Shrien Dewani can be extradited to South Africa to stand trial over the murder of his wife.

Anni Dewani, 29, was shot dead in Cape Town, South Africa, in November during an apparent hijacking. Local police believe her husband arranged for her to be killed by hitmen.

One line of enquiry studied by police involves claims that Mr Dewani is gay. A male escort has alleged that the businessman had paid him thousands of pounds for sex on three occasions.

Mr Dewani has been in treatment at a secure mental hospital for months and his lawyers say he is suffering from mental illness.

They challenged the extradition on the grounds that he has depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The court also heard that the gay rumours surrounding Mr Dewani would place him in danger of sexual assault and acquiring HIV in a South African prison.

District Judge Howard Riddle, at Woolwich crown court, acknowledged Mr Dewani’s problems but said he was confident that he would be protected in prison and given a fair trial.

He said: “The chances of an earlier recovery or even any recovery reduce and the risk of suicide increases…. [But] the public interest in extradition and trial outweighs the competing hardship.”

Mrs Dewani was initially thought to have been killed in a hijacking. Her husband and their taxi driver Zola Tongo escaped unharmed.

Tongo has been sentenced to 18 years in jail for his part in the death. His sentence was reduced from 25 years after he implicated the British businessman in the killing.

Mr Dewani strenuously denies being gay or having anything to do with his wife’s death.