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 clichés.

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

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

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  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    Surely this man is preaching TREASON. It's about time we reverted to the medieval principle of exile. I'm sure he'd enjoy St Helena.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    Quite a few bubbles been burst lately.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    Al Capone evaded ‘racketeering’ justice for years, laughing at the legal system. In the end they locked him away for years for ‘tax evasion’.
    Maybe we can deport Qatada with something else.
    Old parking fines in Jordon (parking his camel on double yellow lines).
    Or... His beard is a fire risk in the UK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    Perhaps the solution is too simple but why can't a prime minister do something the electorate would SUPPORT and REMEMBER. Fly Qatada back to his own country in the morning. The reaction and support provided to the government would have a lasting legacy. If we have to apologise to the EU then apologise and be done with then move on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    And the BBC reporter sounds smugly pleased this dangerous, hateful man is free on the streets. Anything to stick the knife into the Tories eh James? That's the main thing. As usual. Have you not learned anything from the McAlpine scandal?!

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    The human rights of UK born and bred citizens should come first

    Actually most of his venom seems to have been directed at muslims,essentially those in muslim states which don't subscribe to his particular interpretation of islam, the evidence linking him with acts against the West are more circumstantial. Jordan want to try him for involvement in killing Muslims.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    This isn't the end, we just need a solid assurance that evidence from torture will not be used.

    I'm sure we'll get that eventually, and once we do, I'll be delighted to see him on his way to Jordan to stand trial. But only when we're sure it will be a fair trial.

    Yes it's an annoying and expensive process. But doing the right thing, not the cheap or easy thing, is what makes Britain Great.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    At first I thought why bother commenting as it is a waste of time BUT..

    When is our government going to stand up for the MAJORITY of its citizens who are fed up with illegal immigrants and their clans being allowed to stay in our country.
    Lets be a bit more French and do like they do... select what parts of the EU guidance we want to support and ignore the others Better still dump the EU joke!

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    I fear we need to deal with the lawyers who are making a fortune out of these sort of cases. I understand that the Dowty street legal practice in W.C London has made £4 ml out of this case ! We next need to deal with Judges who are more interested in the villians human rights than the human rights of the general law abiding population ! The you can the deal with rubbish like Abu qatada

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    on the day another briish soldier is murdered by an 'ally' it's so sad to read that this so called cleric can walk the streets of britain to call for the killing of non-believers, in God's name what's this country come to?

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Why is HIS safety so important? What about the rest of us? Aren't we also entitled to be safe and protected by the state? He should be put on a military plane and dumped in Jordan. He is not a British citizen, we owe him nothing, least of all lifelong protection and state benefits, including health and shelter.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    This government cannot stop one of their own deserting her post to go and work as a television clown in the Australian bush.

    The same government cannot extradite an illegal entrant back to their homeland to face legitimate criminal charges.

    What hope is for our country or economy?

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Well it's about time we just threw people like him out. The human rights of UK born and bred citizens should come first over the Human Rights of a terrorist.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Rubbish article. The earlier article with a mssive HSA response was much better and not biased. This article is baised and simply, bad.

    Some in the BBc seem intent on throwing dirt at the moment - is this because of the massive crises the BBC is going through at the moment?

    The government cannot be blamed because some solicitor is simply playing legal games to make money at public expense.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    10 year battle to deport him....expect a few more years of court hearings....no quick wins for May..

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    The UK has done enough to protect his HR, I think the SIAC ruling is being overly pedantic, public safety should come first. Enough is enough, he should be deported asap. France frequently deports terrorist suspects regardless of their conformity with the HRA.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Mr Landale, you seem to be gleefully enjoying the inability of Mrs May to
    carry out the wishes of most of the UK population,

    The BBCs self inflected fiascos are irrelevant to this story. Sort yourselves out internally

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Jordan actually amended its constitution to make evidence inadmissible if gathered by torture
    Why isn't that enough?

    Jordan has been a signatory to The UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment since 1991 but ignored it. The apellant was able to convince the court of a liklehood of evidence obtained by torture being used against him

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Time to just put him on a plane and take the risk......Lets have some backbone rather than trying to appease for once.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Will no-one rid us of this turbulent priest?


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