Abu Hamza concerns raised by Queen

 
Abu Hamza Abu Hamza is well known in the UK for his sermons held in and around Finsbury Park mosque in London

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The Queen voiced concerns to the previous government about the inability of UK authorities to arrest Abu Hamza al-Masri, it has emerged.

The BBC's Frank Gardner says the Queen told him she had spoken to a home secretary about the issue.

On Monday, a European Court of Human Rights ruling paved the way for the radical cleric to be extradited to the US after an eight-year battle.

The Home Office said the extradition would happen "as quickly as possible".

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, our correspondent said the Queen had been upset that there was no way to arrest the radical cleric and spoke to the then home secretary to ask why somebody who appeared to be inciting violence and hatred was still at large.

"Like anybody, she was upset that her country and its subjects were being denigrated by this man," said our correspondent, who stressed that the monarch was not lobbying but "merely voicing the views that many have".

The legal and political importance of this final decision by the European court cannot be overestimated. In the wake of 9/11, Washington and London developed extradition and counter-terrorism strategies designed to make sure that suspects, wherever they were, would face justice.

Now that Strasbourg has stepped aside, there is no other legal avenue open for three of the five.

But there is a question mark over the fate of Babar Ahmad and his co-accused, Syed Talha Ahsan. Campaigners have raised serious questions about the fairness of what has happened to them.

There has been an 11th-hour attempt to privately prosecute the pair because their alleged offences occurred in London.

That may lead to a last attempt to delay their transfer - but many legal experts doubt that it could stop these extraditions, which are so important to both governments.

A spokeswoman for Buckingham Palace said it would "never comment on private conversations involving any member of the Royal Family".

The Home Office also said it would not comment on such conversations.

It is rare for the Queen to express opinions on such matters.

Labour MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, said it showed "how deeply concerned" the Queen is for the "welfare of her subjects".

He told BBC News: "It's good that she has mentioned this to the home secretary and absolutely appropriate."

But campaign group Republic has accused the BBC of revealing details of the Queen's interest in the case to put her "on the right side of public opinion".

"The decision to disclose this one conversation while keeping all else secret smacks of a deliberate PR stunt to put the Queen on the right side of public opinion," the group said.

On Monday, a panel of the European court's highest judges declined to refer the case of Abu Hamza and four other terrorism suspects to the European Court's Grand Chamber - the last avenue of appeal open to them in their fight against extradition to the US.

The men have argued that they will face inhumane treatment in the US if they are sent there.

Life imprisonment

But the US authorities, supported by British officials, are now working on arrangements to transfer the men to America to face terrorism charges. It is believed extraditions could happen within three weeks.

Abu Hamza is wanted over allegations he plotted to set up a terrorist training camp in the US and was involved in kidnapping Western hostages in Yemen. If convicted, he faces life imprisonment.

Abu Hamza has argued he would face inhumane and degrading treatment if imprisoned for life without possibility of parole.

His legal battle has lasted more than eight years and cost millions of pounds.

The case of Babar Ahmad - who, with co-accused Syed Talha Ahsan, is alleged to have run a jihadist website in London that provided support to terrorists - is not as clear cut, according to BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw.

Fahad Ansari: "The fight will never be over until Babar (Ahmad) is back home with his family"

Campaigners for Mr Ahmad say the battle to keep him in the UK will continue.

His supporters say he should stand trial in the UK because the alleged offences occurred here.

Earlier this month, a businessman began the process of launching a private prosecution, saying that British suspects should be tried in the UK, not abroad.

Adel Abdul Bary and Khaled al-Fawwaz are accused of being aides to former al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in London.

They said that they faced an inhumane regime of solitary confinement in a special "supermax" prison.

The five men were indicted on terrorism charges by the US between 1999 and 2006.

Abu Hamza and Mr Ahmad have been in custody since 2004, and Mr Ahsan since 2006; the arrests of Mr Bary and Mr al-Fawwaz date back to 1998, making them the longest-held detainees without trial in the UK.

Abu Hamza was convicted in 2006 in the UK of charges including soliciting to murder and stirring up racial hatred, and given a seven-year jail sentence.

Following the European ruling on Monday, US Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said: "We are pleased that the litigation before the European Court of Human Rights in these cases has come to an end, and we will be working with the UK authorities on the arrangements to bring these subjects to the United States for prosecution."

 

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  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1345.

    Is 'motormouth' Frank Gardner going to be sacked by the BBC. Or does he think that an apology resolves it. Yet another example of why journalists (and MPs) cannot be trusted.

  • rate this
    +11

    Comment number 1344.

    "if you break any UK laws you forfeit all entitlement to ANY rights and should expect no favourable treatment whatsoever".

    Yay: Let's go back to the dark ages!
    That 'Magna Carta' thing was a waste of time all along!
    /sarcasm

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 1343.

    "feduplittlefellow
    Goodbye Mr Hamza.
    You have taken advantage of every legal avenue within the UK and EU"

    I didn't realise the European Court of Justice ruled on Hamza. What aspect of EU law was he accused of breaking? Maybe he inadvertently bent a banana too far with his hook.

    Please research the difference between the EU and the Council of Europe.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1342.

    Being told something in confidence, then telling the world, then apologising for your slip of the tongue.

    Isn't that a definition of snide?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 1341.

    So what's the problem the Queen is only voicing what every other sane person thinks, these animals that have no respect for life should be caged. Just hope this now opens the way to deport all the other terrosists and hate mongers.
    We should not be afraid to voice openly our concerns, these people will kill for no reason they are animals - treat them as such.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 1340.

    It is absolutely appropriate that the Queen like any Brit should express her concerns. I am Indian, and just cannot understand why the British authorities should allow these crazies to carry on inciting hatred and preach a primitive ideology on British soil. Freedom comes with responsibilities.

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 1339.

    1294. Exasperated of Ealing
    Rule 1 should be "if you break any UK laws you forfeit all entitlement to ANY rights and should expect no favourable treatment whatsoever"."

    So, if you drop a piece of litter, or park facing the wrong way up the street, you deserve to get shot?

    Hmm

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 1338.

    1326.minuend
    All this shows is that religous intolerance is present in all levels of English society."

    Not really, just intolerance of people with violent, extreme views that oppose our values.
    But, if religious intolerance is present, i am glad - i'm glad that people are thinking for themselves and challenging certain opinions, beliefs and superstitions

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1337.

    Oh dear, oh dear!

    Now I am waiting for the blanket coverage for a week, the 'fresh revelations', a detailed account of who said what to whom and for a demand for even more apologies from Frank Gardner.

    And then what about calls for Frank Gardner's sacking or resingation for a gross error of judgement?

    All this sound familiar to anyone? Andrew Mitchell?

    BBC crass hypocrisy perhaps?

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 1336.

    @1294.Exasperated of Ealing

    Rule 1 should be "if you break any UK laws you forfeit all entitlement to ANY rights and should expect no favourable treatment whatsoever".

    & then you could get the death penalty for speeding without even having a trial

  • rate this
    +11

    Comment number 1335.

    1313. Franco Begbie

    So much hate going on here, I can't tell who the baddies and goodies are any more. Well, I know Hamza is the (very) baddie, but who are the goodies?

    Graeme Garden, Bill Oddie and Tim Brooke-Taylor. Hope this helps.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 1334.

    "Exasperated of Ealing
    Rule 1 should be "if you break any UK laws you forfeit all entitlement to ANY rights and should expect no favourable treatment whatsoever"."

    So, next time you're caught for speeding don't complain that your rights have been violated.

    1312. Skeksis

    I think almost all would say the ECHR rights apply to them, just not anyone they disapprove of. But that's their purpose.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1333.

    The whole point here is that everyone is allowed their own private opinion. The Queen is no exception, but shoddy reporting on this fact may lead some extremist elements to make more of it. Is nobody aware of this?

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 1332.

    Goodbye Mr Hamza.
    You have taken advantage of every legal avenue within the UK and EU, have been judged and will be extradited.
    Unfortunately for you, the Americans are a little less liberal than the Europeans.
    You have sown the wind, and will reap the whirlwind.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 1331.

    Just a point of order.

    Nobody owns a passport.

    They remain the property of the people you pay for them. The ones that tell you they are your government.


    Ever wondered why ?

    Does Betty have one by the way ? No ? Why not ?

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 1330.

    revolutionnow999
    I agree that the majority of Muslims are very decent people. But if they come to a 'christian' country, is it not they who should make the biggest effort to understand the culture? - When in Rome, etc.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 1329.

    1285.


    I think in light of recent and on-going events Islam is going to be asked some very serious questions & come under ever more scrutiny & suspicion. The good people of Islam and in particular they who have chosen to settle here, I hope with the intent to assimilate into our culture if not why are they here ? will stand firm and let their voices be heard instead of the usual suspects

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 1328.

    Will Frank Gardner's revelation and apology be blown out of all proportion by the BBC in the same way that a politician's understandable slip over such a trivial expression to a policeman was? Or will it brush the matter under the carpet, never to see the light of day tomorrow - in other words, bury the story at top speed. One rule for one....

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 1327.

    1294.

    Rule 1 should be "if you break any UK laws you forfeit all rights and should expect no favourable treatment whatsoever".
    _____

    Presumably this would apply to all citizens, not just Muslims or immigrants to maintain fairness?

    No rights? So we can torture those law breakers? Including "Public Nuisance"?

    Thought seems to go out the window during a discussion on immigration or foreigners.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 1326.

    All this shows is that religous intolerance is present in all levels of English society.

 

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