Abu Qatada to be banned from doing school run


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The Independent Online

A radical cleric described as Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe will be banned from taking his youngest child to school when he is released from prison, sources said today.

Abu Qatada, who will be released from a maximum security prison this week while he fights deportation to Jordan, will not be allowed out of his home during school opening and closing times.

Under the terms of his release, Qatada, who Home Secretary Theresa May has said poses a real threat to the UK's national security, must obey a 22-hour curfew and will be kept in during the school run, sources said.

In a small victory for the Home Secretary, the two hours a day in which Qatada will be allowed outside his London home within a prescribed area will not coincide with school opening and closing times.

It is understood the details were agreed by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac), which ruled that the cleric should be released, on Friday.

Qatada, 51, must also wear an electronic tag, is banned from using the internet and telephone, and any visitors to his home apart from his wife and children must be vetted beforehand by the security services.

The conditions are some of the toughest imposed since the September 11 terror attacks.

Last week, David Cameron and King Abdullah of Jordan agreed on the "importance of finding an effective resolution" to his case.

The Prime Minister told King Abdullah of the "frustrating and difficult" position Britain was in over its efforts to deport the Islamist radical.

Home Office Minister James Brokenshire is also visiting the Jordanian capital, Amman, this week as diplomats try to gain the assurances needed from Jordan before Qatada can be sent home.

The cleric has been held for six-and-a-half years, more than any other detainee in modern immigration history, while fighting deportation.

But he will be released from Long Lartin jail in Evesham, Worcestershire, after applying for bail when human rights judges in Europe ruled he could not be deported without assurances from Jordan that evidence gained through torture would not be used against him.

Under the terms of his release set by Siac, the Home Secretary has just three months to show the Government is making significant progress in securing his deportation or risk Qatada being freed from his bail conditions.

Qatada, also known as Omar Othman, was convicted in his absence in Jordan of involvement with terror attacks in 1998 and has featured in hate sermons found on videos in the flat of one of the September 11 bombers.

Since 2001, when fears of the domestic terror threat rose in the aftermath of the attacks, he has challenged, and ultimately thwarted, every attempt by the Government to detain and deport him.

Last month, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that sending Qatada back to face terror charges without assurances that evidence gained through torture would not be used against him would be a "flagrant denial of justice".

The ruling was the first time that the Strasbourg-based court has found an extradition would be in violation of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to a fair trial, which is enshrined in UK law under the Human Rights Act.

A spokeswoman for the Judicial Communications Office confirmed that Qatada's bail conditions were agreed without the need for a further hearing.

A spokeswoman for the Judicial Communications Office confirmed that Qatada's bail conditions were agreed without the need for a further hearing.

Downing Street said today that the Government was considering "all the options" for removing Qatada "at the earliest opportunity".

"We will take all measures necessary to protect the public," Prime Minister David Cameron's official spokesman said.

"We are committed to removing him from the country. We want to see him deported and we are looking at all the options for doing that. I'm not going to go into specifics."

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: "It is clear the Government has not done all it can to stop Abu Qatada being released from high-security prison today.

"As soon as the European Court judgment was delivered a month ago now, the Government could have appealed the decision and begun urgent negotiations with the Jordanian government.

"Instead the Government did nothing, leaving a judge to decide there was little progress being made in deporting Qatada and that bail was the only option.

"And still the Government have failed to appeal, while activity with the Jordanians seems restricted to belated calls from the PM and a trip to Jordan for James Brokenshire."

She went on: "We are also seriously concerned that, should Qatada's bail conditions be relaxed, within weeks he could be free to do the school run he has been banned from today.

"The Government's scrapping of control orders means that even were Qatada to be given a new Tpim (Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures), he would be free to move around during the day, even using the internet and a mobile phone.

"Inaction from this Government could soon be followed by more failure after the Home Secretary's decision to weaken counter- terror powers designed to deal with situations like this.

"In issues of national security, a more urgent and less cavalier approach is needed."

Ukip leader Nigel Farage said: "Downing Street can make all the noises it wishes about finding a way of removing Qatada from this country, but ultimately it is impotent and can do nothing.

"David Cameron is hamstrung by the European Court of Human Rights on one side, and his coalition partners on the other.

"He would not dare defy either, so instead we have a man who is a real threat to national security being released from jail.

"It hardly sends a tough message to other preachers of hate or would-be terrorists around the world."

Ayman Odeh, the Jordanian legislative affairs minister, said the country has passed a constitutional amendment to ban the use of evidence obtained through torture and was working with the UK Government to give the ECHR the assurances it needed.

"It mentions very expressly that any evidence obtained from torture or a threat of torture should not be admissible before the courts in Jordan," he told Sky News.

"We are confident that once we have the chance to make this statement through the diplomatic channels... (it) will be taken into consideration."

He went on: "We are now making the necessary arrangements to do such assurances through the British Government. Very soon something will be done for this purpose."