Radical cleric returns home to angry protests

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The Prime Minister declared himself "completely fed up" with Abu Qatada last night as the radical cleric arrived home amid angry protests.

The controversial preacher, 52, looked relaxed and happy as he was driven away from Long Lartin high security prison, while his release – and the reported £5m-a-year cost of keeping him under surveillance while on bail – provoked outrage at local and national levels.

As legal experts warned it could be months or even years before he leaves British soil, David Cameron, pictured, said: "I am completely fed up with the fact that this man is still at large in our country. He has no right to be there, we believe he is a threat to our country.

"We have moved heaven and earth to try to comply with every single dot and comma of every single convention to get him out of our country. It is extremely frustrating and I share the British people's frustration with the situation we find ourselves in."

On Monday the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) ruled it was not satisfied with assurances that evidence from witnesses who had been tortured would not be included in a retrial of Qatada in his homeland of Jordan, and granted Qatada's appeal against deportation.

The Government's response is likely to be two-pronged. Theresa May has already stated it will appeal, but even if this is allowed by the court, an appeal is unlikely to be heard before next year.

A second option for the Government could be to seek further action from the Jordanians, after Siac said a key sticking point was an ambiguity in the country's code of conduct, which led to the "real risk" that statements procured by torture would be admitted in a retrial. In January, judges at the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Qatada could be sent back to Jordan with diplomatic assurances but he could not be deported while "there remains a real risk that evidence obtained by torture will be used against him".

Qatada, once described as Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe, will now live under strict bail conditions, which include a curfew.

Qatada returned home to protesters holding banners saying: "Get him out!" Local resident Jackie Chaunt, 50, said: "It's a disgrace."