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 49.

    It is time for us to ask ourselves is we believe in the rule of law or not.

    We cannot have a situation where some people are afforded the protection of the law & some others are not.

    For sure the system is not perfect, but to expect otherwise is to kid yourself that a perfect system is even possible in the first place.....what if it were your loved facing torture abroad...???

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    Regretfully I think I have mentioned this before, but did this 'gentleman' not gain entry to the UK using a dodgy passport? Surely that is sufficient reason to deport him, never mind this dog & pony show.

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    Theresa May said explore "any and every" avenue to get this hate monger deported. Well, what about this one - put him on a plane and take him to Jordan. Sorted.

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    "Downing Street sources insist this is not the end of the road and that they remain confident they will eventually get Qatada deported.". This statement doesn’t give me much confidence in the government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    Abu Qatada's smile says it all....me thinks that he is taking zee pess.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    Theresa May's comment that "[putting him on the plane] would be breaking the law" shows that we have moved from a system of justice to a system of blindingly following existing rules. The courts must re-balance the scales and learn to apply the law to provide justice to the country, rather than protecting the interests of individuals like Abu Qatada.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    How come he has been in custody here for 9 years without being charged with any crime under UK law? If we deport him, or send him to Jordan, without justification under UK law, we lower ourselves to his level.

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    Can't we send him off to the jungle with Nadine Dorries?

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    Looks like its time for a visit from our friends on Millbank with a spikey umbrella.

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    Let's use logic for a moment.

    If someone is facing criminal charges, and the overseas country is deemed to be potentially unfair somewhere in its judicial system, surely the answer is to allow the charges to be faced in a country that is deemed to be OK - like the UK in this case - or at an international court. International terrorism, internet crime all need a new international justice system.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    back to basics. Charge him, try him if there is evidence to do so.

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    I'd pay for the ticket (Economy of course)

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    Funny some of the comments on here , it seems one day a judges decison is fine but when the verdict isn't to everyone's taste then to hell with due process and the law . As for Jordanian reassurances please don't make me laugh our spineless Government will sell to the highest bidder regardless of how bloody their deeds are, it's all good claiming the moral high ground first get some morals

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    Re 29 St Helena would be a holiday camp. More like the uninhabited Inaccessible Island - part of the Tristen Da Cunha in the S Atlandic over 2,000 miles from the nearest land mass. 5.4 sq miles area surrounded by 1000 ft high cliffs. Mr Qatada might like to preach his brand of Islamic hatred to some of the local wild fowl eg the 2 million pairs of Great Shearwaters.

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    Get that thing, Qatada out of Britain for Jordan now............tonight would be great.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    Dear James, This has nothing to do with Mrs May. It's a straightforward human rights issue: would Qatada receive a fair trial in Jordan? The court felt he would not. As loathsome as the defendant in this case is, we must fight to protect human rights: his rights are your rights and mine. But, patience, this is only the equivalent of a high court ruling: we still have 2 appeal stages to go through.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    We have given enough money to his lawyers over the years we could have had a referendum on it, surely all the clever or not so clever lawyers of the government can sort this out if not they should be replaced and get someone in who can solve the problem.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    The EDL chap has been arrested for a passport infringement and was refused bail and I dont think he's getting legal aid.

    He is not calling for the murder of anyone.

    Two tier system or two tier system?

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    But the main thing is bursting Mays bubble?! Hurray! This hater of the west is free again. Shocking BBC bias as usual. Theresa May hasn't shot the BBC in the foot, you managed that all by yourself with blind Tory attacks - just like this one. Pathetic.

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    We are now the laughing stock of the world.


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