Abu Qatada appeal 'just in time' says Council of Europe

 

Abu Qatada's appeal to European human rights judges against deportation to Jordan may have been lodged “just in time”, according to advice from the Council of Europe.

Home Secretary Theresa May told MPs that the application by Qatada's lawyers should be thrown out by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) as the three-month deadline had passed when it was submitted on Tuesday night.

However, Labour released advice from the research department of the Council of Europe - which is responsible for the court - suggesting it may have just beaten the deadline.

The note, sent to the House of Commons Library, stresses that the final decision on whether the appeal is admissible now rests with a panel of five judges from the court's Grand Chamber.

"The Othman (Qatada) case was supposed to become final on 17/04/2012 and, according to the information provided by the European Court, the applicant requested a referral to the Grand Chamber on the 17/04," the note said.

"So I would say that it just in time but of course the Court (panel) may decide otherwise."

The note was signed by Nathalie Chene of Secretariat of the Committee of Ministers Council of Europe.

Earlier, in the Commons, Mrs May was adamant that the appeal deadline had passed 24 hours earlier at midnight on Monday - April 16.

"The Government is clear that Abu 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," she said.

"The Government has written to the European Court to make clear our case that the application should be rejected because it is out of time."

On Tuesday, Mrs May announced Qatada had been rearrested and deportation proceedings resumed in the absence of any appeal against the court's ruling - issued on January 17 - that he would not face torture if he was deported to stand trial on terrorism charges in his native Jordan.

However that night at 11pm local time Qatada's lawyers lodged their appeal with the ECHR.

Today, amid noisy scenes in the Commons chamber, Mrs May accused the lawyers of using "delaying tactics" to hold up the deportation process.

She acknowledged, however, that proceedings would have to be put on hold while the Grand Chamber panel came to a decision on the admissibility of the appeal.

"They are the only final arbiters of what the deadline was," she said.

Pressed by Labour former home secretary Alan Johnson, she said that she took full responsibility for any error by the Government.

"I, of course, take responsibility for decisions that I have taken. This is not a question of what officials have done. I take full responsibility," she said.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the "confusion" in the Home Office over the deadline date had played into the hand's of Qatada's lawyers, increasing the potential for delays and for Qatada to obtain bail.

She said that officials should have realised there could be a problem when journalists began querying the deadline date with them on Monday.

"When the Home Secretary is accused of not knowing what day of the week it is, chaos and confusion have turned into farce. But this farce has serious consequences," she said.

Among Tory MPs there was broad support for Mrs May coupled with frustration and anger at the prospect of further hold-ups at the hands of the ECHR.

Backbencher Charles Walker urged her to put the "scumbag and his murderous mates" on a plane out of the country and send "a metaphorical two fingers to the ECHR".

Outside the chamber, however, another Tory MP, Douglas Carswell, was scathing about the Government's handling of the case, saying it was "Carry on Sir Humphrey in the Home Office".

Campaigning in Scotland, David Cameron could not hide his exasperation at the latest setback.

"I sometimes wish I could put him plane and take him to Jordan myself. But Government has to act within the law. That is what we'll do. We will get this done," he said.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
football This was Kane’s night, even if he played just a small part of it
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
people
Voices
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
News
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
news
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss