King of Jordan removes last hurdle as he approves treaty designed to trigger removal of radical cleric Abu Qatada from UK

Agreement guarantees that torture evidence would not be used against 52-year-old

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The Independent Online

Abu Qatada came a step closer to leaving Britain as it was announced that the King of Jordan had approved a treaty banning the use of torture evidence.

Government attempts to rid the country of the 52-year-old radical cleric have been repeatedly thwarted by the courts, with judges unhappy at assurances from Jordan that he will receive a fair trial.

But earlier this year Home Secretary Theresa May revealed that a treaty had been obtained with the Arab kingdom that would offer guarantees that torture evidence would not be used against him.

The treaty was approved by royal decree in Jordan after it was cleared by both houses of the country's parliament. It must now be published in the Jordanian Government's Official Gazette before the process is complete. The UK Government expects the treaty to be ratified in Britain by Friday.

Last month Qatada’s lawyers told a Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac), that he would leave Britain voluntarily when the new law came into force.

Mr Justice Irwin, however, said the Home Secretary would need to provide evidence of when it became law: "Not merely when it has been ratified but when it's in force."

Yesterday Security Minister James Brokenshire said: "The Government remains committed to securing Abu Qatada's deportation as quickly as possible."

The extremist, who was convicted of terror charges in Jordan in his absence in 1999, is currently in Belmarsh Prison, having been re-arrested two months ago for breaches of his bail conditions. Siac was told that jihadist material was found on a USB stick seized at his home.

Last week, it emerged the fight to remove Qatada from Britain has cost the taxpayer more than £1.7 million since 2005.