Abu Qatada bursts May's bubble

Abu Qatada A British, rather than a European court, has caused Theresa May's latest problems over Abu Qatada

David Cameron once said that he got so frustrated with the case of Abu Qatada that he sometimes wanted to get on a plane and deport the terrorist suspect to Jordan himself.

Well, last April the Home Secretary Theresa May had good news for him. She told him that, finally, Qatada's deportation was "under way".

That was clearly somewhat premature. The latest ruling by the special immigration appeals commission ends a long run of good luck for Mrs May.

She had secured the deportation of another radical cleric Abu Hamza. She had prevented the deportation of the computer hacker Gary Mckinnon. Fans were talking up her prospects as a potential Tory leader.

But the Qatada decision pops that particular bubble. A man the government considers to be a security risk is not only avoiding deportation but he is going to be walking the streets of London.


A 10-year campaign to send this man to face trial in Jordan - which has cost the British taxpayer a million pounds - has once again be stymied.

The home secretary has invested a huge amount of time and effort on this, working with the Jordanian government to give the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) the assurances it needs that Qatada would get a fair trial in Jordan and that any witnesses would not be tortured.

And yet a British court in London - not a European court in Strasbourg - has now provided yet another hurdle in the way of the deportation of what Mrs May called "a dangerous man".

Not for nothing did the home secretary say this judgement was "deeply unsatisfactory".

In the Commons, MPs on all sides expressed their frustration and disappointment at the decision.

But some began to say what many in the press and public will echo on Tuesday:

  • that the time has come to ignore the European Court of Human Rights and just put Qatada on a plane
  • that the government made the wrong decision to take the case through the UK courts rather than appeal through the ECHR
  • that the government was wrong to water down anti-terror control orders so that they have fewer ways of controlling Qatada's movements

Ultimately this remains a struggle between the competing interests of public security and support for human rights.

And, much to the government's frustration, the court's interpretation of human rights appears to be winning out.

Downing Street sources insist this is not the end of the road and that they remain confident they will eventually get Qatada deported.

But they - and the home secretary - are lucky that most attention appears still to be focused on the BBC.

This is not the news they wanted - or were expecting. Were it not for the BBC crisis, some at Westminster might have been dusting off the word "omnishambles" from their list of favourite clich├ęs.

Others might even have begun musing over Mrs May's future.

James Landale Article written by James Landale James Landale Deputy political editor

Could UK politics go a little bit Swedish?

BBC deputy political editor James Landale looks at whether a minority government could be held to ransom if a party like UKIP had the balance of power.

Read full article

More on This Story

More from James


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    We don't want him here. He doesn't want to go back to Jordan. Give him 24 hours to find a place that will have him, or he gets dropped off in a rowing boat in international waters. Problem solved.

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    It just goes to show what a joke our legal system is and why many society have little respect or faith for it. In other countries he would have gone long before now and our government wonders why we are looked upon as a soft touch.

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    is it not beyond the wit of this govt, just to grab him put him and his odious clan onto a plane and drop him off somewhere...anywhere...why are we concerned about his 'human rights' he certainly with his hate preaching was not concerned about ours...get rid of now!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    Please someone get him out of where he lives, bundle him on a plane to Jordan on the quiet and get rid of him. We worry too much about his rights. What about the rights of us, the idiots who are paying for him so he can appeal and take more money from us? If anyone protests put them on the next plane so they can sympathise with him man to man but do something proactive.

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    Oh dear! An innocuous comment of mine has been removed because "it broke house rules". Must be the new regime or something.

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    How much has this cost the tax payer? Me and you. He should never have been let into the country in the first place. The government is too soft on people like this, yet we can deport our own people to America for copy right offences.

    BBC can we stop using American English please on the spell check, British English please surely you can get that correct?

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    He has demonstrated evil intentions towards his fellow British people and their allies. Deporting him will be a wonderful day for justice and all people of faith to see someone who insights hatred in young people to exact fear and terror through their self destruction. I don't think this guy can sleep very well at night knowing how many lives he has destroyed.

    It'll be nice to see him punished!

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    the uk is not a democracy ,it doesnt matter what ordinary decent uk citizens want, what matters is what the so called court of human rights want.

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.


    When I found out this "Judge" was a NuLabour man, his dangerous decision made sense to me

    He did the same thing to NuLabour when they tried to deport some terror suspects to Libya

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    .., this man should be returned to his Homeland, ..
    he would presumably then say, that should be Palestine since thats where he was born, not Jordan which would start a whole new legal argument

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    This case is making our Justice system look ridiculous, this should not be turned into a party political football, this man should be returned to his Homeland, he has no right to preach hatred against British Citizens or anyone else, Send him home!

  • Comment number 98.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    Not British send him home. This farce has cost the British tax payer 1 million. Is he a charity? UK money for UK people only.

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    Why not embrace his release and given his expertise give him a job as a bomb diposal expert in Afghanistan.

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    Stop bickering over who's fault it is that this man is still in Britain.
    Either change or ignore the lawers and throw him out!!.
    We do not need or want such evil men here,LISTEN,if only for once to the voice of the marjority of British people PLEASE.

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    Funny how the same Home Sec was quick to apply the Human Rights elements to prevent extradition (rightly so) of a UK Citizen to USA, but doesn't like it when the same is applied against her. You either adopt or ditch all the elements, can't "pick & choose" as her own Leader would say! This incompetent govt is full of double standards, not defending this guy, but just the principles.

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    What I find most distasteful is the desire by some to lay this at the door of the current government. Virtually this entire saga has been presided over by the last Labour government. This should not be a party political issue. It is clear there is a subset of the judiciary determined to thwart the will of parliament using baroque logic and bizarre legal points.

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    Firstly, it is nice to see James Landale making light of what has become a serious failing of UK law and that of the European courts in allowing this person to remain within a so-called free society, one he has no respect for! Previous governments have failed and given up. It is now time that the UK distanced itself from Europe in terms of LAW.

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    12th November 2012 - 18:01
    ".. don't realise just how lucky they are to be here. freedom of speech or the wonderful opportunities.."

    Too much of the amber nectar mate - have you seen what happens to those that are charged for innocent comments on Twitter? or for Student / London protests? Jailed!
    You must be living in another world mate - no worries!

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    This is not a party political issue. Successive governments have failed to get Qatada out - he shouldn't have been allowed into Britain in the first place. however, thank God we live in a country where judges are independent, and not simply dishing out judgements at the behest of whichever party happens to be in government.


Page 1 of 6



Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.