Abu Qatada appeal blocks deportation

 

Terror suspect Abu Qatada today lodged an appeal with Europe's human rights judges which effectively blocks the Government's attempts to deport him to Jordan, officials said.

Qatada's legal team claims that judges at the European Court of Human Rights were wrong three months ago when they ruled that he would not be at risk of torture if returned to Jordan, a court spokeswoman said.

The court's Grand Chamber will decide whether to hear his appeal, but the radical cleric, once described by a judge as Osama bin Laden's right hand man in Europe, cannot be deported until the court has reached a decision.

The move is separate from any appeal Qatada's legal team may make over yesterday's decision by Home Secretary Theresa May to continue with his deportation after receiving assurances from Jordan that evidence gained through torture would not be used against him.

Instead it relates to a different strand of the original decision of the Strasbourg-based court which found that the 51-year-old would not face being tortured himself if deported.

Under the rules of the court, all parties have three months in which to appeal to the court's Grand Chamber before the decision becomes final.

But the Home Office said Qatada ran out of time to appeal on Monday night, just hours before he was arrested by UK Border Agency (UKBA) officers, and his case should be dismissed.

A Home Office spokesman said: "Qatada has no right to refer the case to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights, since the three-month deadline to do so lapsed at midnight on Monday night.

"His case should be heard in British courts, as the Home Secretary outlined to Parliament yesterday. In the meantime, he remains in custody."

A court spokeswoman said the Grand Chamber would now "soon" decide whether to hear Qatada's appeal. Very few Grand Chamber appeals are successful.

The move comes as the 47 member nations of the Council of Europe prepare to meet in Brighton tomorrow for talks aimed at reforming the court and the types of cases it hears.

Qatada's legal team are challenging the Strasbourg-based court's decision, published on January 17, that he could be sent back to Jordan with diplomatic assurances that he would not be tortured.

He is currently behind bars after a senior immigration judge ruled his imminent deportation meant the risk he could try to flee while on bail had increased.

But his lawyers have said they will challenge all moves to deport him and Mrs May warned MPs yesterday that it may still be "many months" before Qatada can be lawfully kicked out.

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 now 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.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said: "As far as we are concerned, Qatada has no right to refer the case to the Grand Chamber, since the three-month deadline lapsed at midnight on Monday night.

"The ruling was made on January 17 and therefore the deadline for referral was midnight on April 16.

"He is in custody now. We are opposing the referral and we believe the case should be heard in British courts.

"If his lawyers appeal for bail, we will oppose it vigorously."

The spokeswoman was unable to say when the Grand Chamber's decision on whether it will hear the Qatada case will be made.

Ms May described Qatada's application to the European court as a "delaying tactic" prompted by his awareness of the strength of the case for his deportation set out by the Government at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) hearing yesterday.

She rejected suggestions that the Home Office may have blundered in its calculation of when the deadline for an appeal would come, and said there "no question" of the Government having broken the law by arresting Qatada yesterday.

The treaty governing the European court states that referrals must be made within three months of a judgment, and court officials were "absolutely clear" that the UK was working on the basis that in Qatada's case this expired at midnight on April 16, said the Home Secretary.

However, the application was not automatically struck out if it was received after the deadline and it was now for the Grand Chamber to decide whether the court should hear it.

Mrs May told BBC News channel: "This is a delaying tactic from Abu Qatada. It is a delaying tactic which he chose to use only after he had seen the strength of the Government's case in the SIAC court yesterday.

"The decision as to whether or not Abu Qatada remains in prison will be one that will be taken by the UK courts, if he chooses to apply for bail. Obviously, if he does, we will oppose that bail vigorously, as we did yesterday - we argued for his detention yesterday - and as we have done in the past.

"I want to see Abu Qatada deported. I am absolutely clear that once we have got through this, we will resume those deportation proceedings.

"I want Abu Qatada to be on a plane to Jordan and I know that that is what the British public want. What the Government is absolutely focused on is making sure we can deport Abu Qatada."

Asked whether the Home Office may have got its timing wrong, Mrs May said: "I am sure that we got the deadline right, because you look at the treaty and what the treaty says is that it is three months from the date of the judgment.

"As you would expect, we have been in touch with the European court over the last three months to check our understanding. They were absolutely clear that we were operating on the basis that it was midnight on April 16. But the final decision is always taken by the panel (of the Grand Chamber)."

More to follow...

PA

Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

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

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Psychology Teacher

£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

Food Technology Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week