UK

Abu Qatada: Dominic Casciani answers your questions

BBC Home Affairs correspondent Dominic Casciani
Image caption BBC Home Affairs correspondent Dominic Casciani

Following the release on bail of Muslim cleric Abu Qatada, BBC Home Affairs correspondent Dominic Casciani answered your questions - sent in by email, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter - in a live Twitter Q&A on Tuesday 13 November.

This is an edited version of the session.

Question from Paul Wooding on Twitter: Why cant the government just put Abu Qatada on a plane out of the UK? What would be the consequences? #askbbcdomc

Dominic answers: Because the Home Secretary would be in Contempt of Court. That would be pretty serious. UK ministers must abide by what the courts say

Question from Simon Stone on Google+: Is Abu Qatada an illegal immigrant - can we kick him out for that reason alone? #askbbcdomc

Dominic answers: No he's not an illegal immigrant. He came to the UK 20 years ago and was given asylum because he had been tortured.

Question from Lea Panvini Rosati on Facebook: Can a justice minister or the PM overrule this sentence and pack this gentleman off to Jordan asap? #askbbcdomc

Dominic answers: No - it's all about the Rule of Law. Parliament makes the law - judges enforce it. Ministers can't overrule the courts on Abu Qatada

Question from Paul in London: Can you explain why a rejection of the deportation request results in release from prison? #askbbcdomc

Dominic answers: Great question. You can only be held in prison if you are likely to be deported. There's no indefinite detention in the UK without reason

Question from Jason in London who emails: Jordan amended its constitution to make torture-evidence inadmissible. Why wasn't this enough for Siac? #askbbcdomc

Dominic answers: The whole case turns on this point. Siac and Europe says it simply doesn't know whether the legal guarantees would work in practice

(continues) Siac wants more clarity from Jordan - ie a change in its criminal trial code of a definitive ruling from its highest courts.

Image caption Dominic Casciani answering tweets in the live Q & A in the BBC Newsroom

Question from Ted in Langley on email: How did Abu Qatada get into the UK ?#askbbcdomc

Dominic answers: He came seeking asylum. Abu Qatada fled Jordan to Pakistan and then came to the UK. He was given asylum

(continues) in early 90s. London was a base for Islamists who had fled despotic Middle East regimes. The UK didn't regard these people as a threat

Question from John in London who emails: Is it possible to offer the Jordanian judiciary the possibility of holding a trial in the UK? #askbbcdomc

Dominic answers: If it's been offered we haven't been told that! The Lockerbie bomber trial was in a Scottish court in The Netherlands.

Question from Darryl on Twitter: Doesn't the ruling bring into question how the EHCR/Europe views Jordan? Are we patronising their legal system? #askbbcdomc

Dominic answers: Judges have said that in general terms people can get a fair trial in Jordan. But clearly Jordan is frustrated with the outcome.

(continues) Its ministers have told BBC News that they've made changes to ensure the independence of their judiciary

Question from Mark in Sutton who emails: How can someone be demonized, arrested and persecuted by British law for freedom of speech? #askbbcdomc

Dominic answers: Judges said years ago that Abu Qatada was a "very dangerous individual" capable of radicalising others - and therefore a threat.

Question on Twitter from George Scott @GRScott_Oxon: What would happen if the British government deported Qatada regardless? #askbbcdomc

Dominic answers: If UK deported him while the European Court had blocked the case, it would have been fined. Italy was fined in similar situation.

(continues) many in Govt fear ignoring a court ruling would be hugely damaging to UK's global efforts to improve human rights

Question from Chris in Dorset who emails: What is the bill for all of this legal work, and who pays? #askbbcdomc

Dominic answers: Can't say for sure but at least £417,000 on the cleric's side. But many of his lawyers have worked for free for years. Public pays.

Question from Ken Lee in Lightwater who emails: Why can't the law be changed so that suspected terrorists cannot get legal aid? #askbbcdomc

Dominic answers: Ask Parliament! Seriously though - legal aid is based on the principle of fairness before the courts for anyone who is eligible

Question from Brennan in Corby who emails: As the European Court is overruling British Courts, can Abu Qatada not be moved to Europe and go on trial there? #askbbcdomc

Dominic answers: The European Court's judgement largely repeated and reinforced what the UK's Court of Appeal said about risk of torture evidence.

(continues) Monday's ruling was made in light of what the Strasbourg court said

Question from Eugene Organ on Facebook: Doesn't this illustrate the need for the wheels of justice to turn quicker albeit just as carefully? #askbbcdomc

Dominc answers: Reporters often see understandable delays in complex cases but there were some extraordinary delays here. Europe took three years to rule

Question from David in Chester who emails: If we left the EU would this type of process be easier and less costly? #AskBBCDomC

Dominic answers: It's not about the EU - it has nothing to do with the European Court of Human Rights.

(continues) The government has been trying to reform the European Court and make it work more quickly. It has too many cases on its books.

(continues again) Sorry - just to clarify ambiguity in last but one tweet. UK's membership of EU has nothing to do with European Court - different institution

Question fromTsele @TeedeeNK who asks: What exactly has Abu Qatada done?#AskBBCDomC

Dominic answers: Simplest are the hardest to answer. He's been judged a threat to national security because he reportedly supports violent jihad

(continues) the case sits right at the point where fears for national security clash with the UK's historic legal commitments to oppose torture.

Question from Joe Lock @joelock85 who tweets: Why can't he be tried here? And could law be changed to allow that? #AskBBCDomC

Dominc answers: He can't be tried because there's no criminal evidence. Secret security assessments can't be used in criminal trials

Dominic says: Thanks for all the questions on Abu Qatada - sorry we couldn't answer them all, but hope it helped. They'll be on the BBC News website later

For more tweets from Dominic Casciani you can follow him Twitter account: @BBCDomC

Produced by Susanna Cooper