UK Politics

Abu Qatada situation 'completely unacceptable' - PM

Abu Qatada
Image caption Abu Qatada has fought a long battle against his removal from UK

David Cameron has said it is "completely unacceptable" that Abu Qatada is to be freed from jail.

He told MPs that the radical cleric should have been deported to his native Jordan "years ago" and the UK would do everything it could to make it happen.

The European Court of Human Rights has blocked his deportation on the grounds that Jordan might use evidence obtained by torture against him.

Mr Cameron is due to speak to the King of Jordan about the issue later.

A British judge decided earlier this week that Abu Qatada's six-year detention could no longer be sustained after the ECHR's ruling. The cleric faces terror charges in Jordan and the UK government says he is a threat to national security.

Asked about the matter at Prime Minister's questions, he said he profoundly disagreed with the Court's decision.

"The situation with Abu Qatada is completely unacceptable. It is not acceptable that we end up with a situation where someone in your country who threatens to do you harm, that you cannot try, that you cannot detain and you cannot deport."

But the prime minister was accused of complacency over the issue by Labour MPs - who also claimed the decision to overhaul the system of control orders for terrorist suspects last year now increased the risk to the public from Abu Qatada's release.

The BBC's chief political correspondent Norman Smith said the fact Mr Cameron was speaking personally to King Abdullah was a sign of the urgency of the situation and his determination to try and remove Abu Qatada from the country.

Home Office Minister James Brokenshire is to visit Jordan next week to seek assurances that Abu Qatada would not be mistreated if deported there and that he would not be convicted on the basis of evidence obtained by torture.

The cleric, who has never been charged with a criminal offence in the UK but whom ministers have said is "extremely dangerous", will be subject to a 22-hour curfew when he is released and not allowed to use the internet or mobile phones.

Human rights campaigners have said that if Abu Qatada is to be prosecuted, it should happen in the UK because of concerns about whether he would get a fair trial in Jordan.

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