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.

'Unsatisfactory'

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

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  • rate this
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    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
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    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
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    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
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    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
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    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.

 

Comments 5 of 109

 

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