Abu Qatada deportation case back in UK court

 

Abu Qatada's deportation is in the hands of the British courts after the Jordanian terror suspect lost his attempt to make a final appeal to Europe's human rights judges.

The radical cleric's lawyers immediately applied for him to be released on bail as it looked likely that deportation proceedings will still take many months.

But Home Secretary Theresa May had a narrow escape as, while they rejected the case, the panel of five judges also ruled that Qatada's appeal on the night of April 17 was within the court's deadline.

The decision means Mrs May was wrong when she claimed the three-month appeal deadline from the court's original decision on January 17 expired on the night of April 16, but the mistake will have no serious repercussions.

Qatada's legal team lodged his appeal late on the night of April 17, which the judges ruled was in time.

As is typical, no reasons were given for the panel's refusal to allow the case to be heard by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Lawyers for Qatada, described by a judge as Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe, also applied to a senior immigration judge at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission for a fresh bail hearing, but no date has yet been set.

Mrs May said: "It has always been the Government's intention that the Qatada case should be heard in the British courts, so I am pleased by the European Court's decision today.

"I remain confident that the assurances I have secured from the Jordanian government mean we will be able to put Qatada on a plane and get him out of Britain for good.

"His case will now go through the British courts."

But shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: "It is shocking that the court has confirmed the Home Secretary got the date wrong and took an unacceptable risk with this serious case.

"We are all very lucky that the Home Secretary's major mistake has not led to Qatada's application for appeal being granted.

"Now is the time for Theresa May to apologise for such a potentially catastrophic error of judgment and answer questions as to what led her to make this mistake and why she was adamant she was right."

She went on: "The Government has shown very worrying incompetence and recklessness in dealing with Abu Qatada.

"This cannot be allowed to happen again, and the Government needs to show action will be taken to ensure it does not."

Mrs May is now likely to refuse any application by Qatada's lawyers to revoke his deportation order, but it is still likely to be "many months" before he is put on a plane home.

If the Home Secretary also issues a certificate saying any application by Qatada to revoke the deportation order was "clearly unfounded", his lawyers would make an application to the High Court for a judicial review, which could be decided "in a very few weeks".

But if not, Qatada's legal team could appeal against her decision not to revoke the deportation order to a senior immigration judge at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission and the process could still take "many months".

Qatada's legal team was challenging the court's decision that the 51-year-old could be sent back to Jordan with diplomatic assurances that he would not be tortured.

It is separate from the court's initial bar on deportation, which required the Government to first get assurances from Jordan that evidence gained through torture would not be used against Qatada if he is sent back.

Repeated failed attempts by UK governments over the last 10 years to deport the radical cleric have cost nearly £1 million in legal fees, Government figures show.

No figures have been given for how much Qatada has received in legal aid and some estimates put the cost of keeping Qatada in the UK, either in a high-security jail or closely monitored under strict conditions in the community, along with the legal costs of the fight to deport him, at more than £3 million.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "We are obviously very pleased with the decision. It means that the case will now be heard in a British court and it is clearly our intention still to deport this man.

"We believe the assurances we have from the Jordanian government are sufficient."

Asked whether David Cameron was embarrassed at the court's finding that the Government got the timing of the deadline for Qatada's appeal wrong, the spokesman said: "We had consistent legal advice on that point, which did not change."

Kate Allen, director of Amnesty International UK, said the court's rejection of the appeal was a "disappointing decision and a missed opportunity".

"The Grand Chamber would have been the right body to examine this appeal because it raises fundamental issues about whether 'deportation deals' with countries which routinely use torture should ever be relied on," she said.

Qatada, who is said to have wide and high-level support among extremists, was convicted in his absence in Jordan of involvement with terror attacks in 1998 and faces a retrial in his home country.

He also 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.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
musicOfficial chart could be moved to accommodate Friday international release day
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
News
i100
Sport
Italy celebrate scoring their second try
six nations
Sport
Glenn Murray celebrates scoring against West Ham
footballWest Ham 1 Crystal Palace 3
Arts and Entertainment
Drake continues to tease ahead of the release of his new album
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower