Leading article: The price of our civil liberties

Share
Related Topics

There can be no disputing that Abu Qatada is a poisonous figure. He has made a career of spewing out inflammatory nonsense about the West, despite living for many years under its protection. There can be little doubt either that Qatada's hateful rhetoric has helped to indoctrinate many young Muslims around the world into the creed of violent jihadism. A video of one of his "sermons" was discovered in the Hamburg flat of one of the 11 September hijackers.

All this makes Qatada an unwelcome presence in Britain. So it is understandable that the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights yesterday, that the Government should pay such an individual £2,500 in compensation, should have provoked public distaste. And yet the responsibility for this shambles lies not with the courts but with the Government, which saw fit to lock up Qatada, along with other foreign terror suspects, without charge in Belmarsh Prison following the terror attacks on the US in 2001. The Law Lords ruled in 2004 that the Government's action was disproportionate and unlawful. It was this ruling that the ECHR upheld yesterday when it ordered the payment of compensation.

The question of whether Qatada can be deported to Jordan, where he has been convicted in absentia of terrorism offences, is a separate one, and the Law Lords ruled this week that the deportation should proceed. But the issue of Qatada's detention between 2002 and 2005 in the UK exemplifies how the Government has undermined the rule of law under the banner of national security in recent years.

Unpleasant as Qatada is, there was no evidence (certainly none that would stand up in a regular court) that he had broken the law since arriving in Britain in 1993. The Government's response to this lack of proof was to lock him up indefinitely under the authority of a secret immigration tribunal, thus undermining the principle that everyone in Britain should receive a fair and open trial before being imprisoned.

This £2,500 payout is more than the loathsome Qatada deserves, but it is a small price to pay if it helps to preserve our civil liberties from the assaults of a government that seems unable to comprehend the very concept.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
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

Read Next
 

For all his faults, Russell Brand is utterly sincere, something politicians should emulate

Janet Street-Porter
 

Never underestimate the power of the National Trust

Boyd Tonkin
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