Abu Hamza wins right to challenge hate conviction

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The radical Islamic cleric Abu Hamza is to challenge his convictions for incitement to murder and race-hate offences after being given leave to appeal.

Hamza, 48, who was jailed for seven years in February after being convicted by an Old Bailey jury of 11 charges alleging that he "preached terrorism, homicidal violence and hatred", was not present at the Court of Appeal as Edward Fitzgerald QC argued his case before three judges..

During his trial, the prosecution alleged that Hamza acted as a recruiting sergeant for global terrorism by preaching inflammatory sermons at the Finsbury Park mosque in north London, and in Luton, Blackburn and Whitechapel, east London, between 1997 and 2000.

Hamza was convicted of inciting his followers to murder non-Muslims, stirring up racial hatred and possessing a terror "manual" featuring a list of potential targets. He claimed the case against him was politically motivated.

Mr Fitzgerald argued that the long delay in bringing a prosecution had made it "impossible" for Hamza to have a fair trial. "This meant that a unique series of events supervened which prejudiced his chances of a fair trial - events which included the 11 September 2001 attacks in the US, the July 2005 bombings in London and the highly publicised decision to strip him of his citizenship and to seek his extradition," he said.

Giving the court's conclusion, Sir Igor Judge said: "We do not wish to raise any false optimism in the applicant but, in our judgment, there are a number of grounds drawn to our attention which are arguable."

Hamza was refused leave to appeal against sentence. The case is expected to be heard in October.