Radical cleric Abu Hamza's home seized to pay legal bills

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The Independent Online

Legal aid bosses have seized the house belonging to radical cleric Abu Hamza to pay off his legal bills, it was revealed today.

The Legal Services Commission seized the property in Greenford, west London, despite Hamza claiming it did not belong to him.

It will now be sold in an attempt to pay off some of the £300,000 spent on his defence. Officials hope to raise £280,000 from the sale.

Hamza, 51, is in jail as he attempts to fight extradition to the US on terror charges at the European Court of Human Rights.

He is also appealing against the Home Secretary's decision to strip him of his UK passport.

The Egyptian national was jailed for seven years in February 2007 for inciting murder and stirring up racial hatred.

Carolyn Regan, chief executive of the Legal Services Commission (LSC), said: "The Legal Services Commission (LSC) can confirm it has taken possession of Abu Hamza's property, as a contribution to recovering the legal aid costs spent on his defence.

"The LSC will not tolerate people trying to conceal their financial assets in an attempt to have their defence costs paid for by the taxpayer.

"Legal aid is a vital public resource and we are committed to ensuring it is spent on those who most need help with their legal problems and can least afford it.

"Since 2006, the LSC has recovered approximately £3 million following Crown Court trials."

The commission was granted a seizure order by the High Court after lawyers proved the property belonged to him.