Government will do ‘everything it can’ to deport Abu Qatada
19:45 12 November 2012
Home Secretary Theresa May has pledged to do everything she can to deport terror suspect Abu Qatada despite his victory in his battle against deportation.
The radical cleric was granted bail after the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) today upheld his appeal against being sent to Jordan to face trial.
But in a Commons statement today, Mrs May said she believed the decision was based on the “wrong legal test” and the Government strongly disagrees with the ruling.
Qatada will be released on bail tomorrow and Mrs May said the Government’s lawyers would press for the “most restrictive” conditions possible.
Mrs May said: “Qatada is a dangerous man, a suspected terrorist, who is accused of serious crime in his home country of Jordan.
“The British Government has obtained from the Jordanian Government assurances not just in relation to the treatment of Qatada himself, but about the quality of the legal processes that would be followed throughout his trial.
“We will therefore seek leave to appeal today’s decision.”
Once described as Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man in Europe, Qatada was convicted of terror charges in Jordan in his absence in 1999.
He has been fighting extradition for over a decade.
Earlier this year, Mrs May was given assurances by Jordan that no evidence gained through torture would be used against him.
She told the Commons: “Despite these assurances, despite the determination of the Jordanian Government and judiciary to allow Qatada a fair trial, despite the change to the Jordanian constitution that expressly prohibits torture and the use of evidence obtained by torture, in the absence of clear case law Mr Justice Mitting still found in Qatada’s favour.
But she added that she believed the measures taken by Jordan meant that a deportation would now be possible despite the ECHR judgment.
She added: “The Government has been doing everything it can to get rid of Abu Qatada and we will continue to do so.”
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper told the Commons: “This is an extremely serious and worrying judgment that means from tomorrow Abu Qatada will be back on Britain’s streets.
“I think people will be horrified across this country to learn that that is the case.”
Ms Cooper said everyone wanted Qatada out of the country and added Mrs May was right to appeal against the Siac judgment.
But she told MPs: “There are some serious questions that need to be answered about the Home Secretary’s strategy to get this deportation in place and the action you are taking now to keep the public safe.
“It is clear now all of your promises and assurances were overblown and your strategy has fallen apart over this decision.”
Ms Cooper said the Home Office should have appealed against the European Court judgment to the Grand Chamber in Strasbourg when it had the chance in a bid to remove the block which has appeared in the British courts.
But Mrs May replied: “Your argument seems to be the European Court, the very court that has caused this difficulty by setting up a new barrier to deportation, is somehow the solution to the problem.
“Not only is that palpably ridiculous but an appeal to the Grand Chamber would have risked our wider deportation policies.
“It would have made it harder to deport even more terrorists if we had lost that appeal. It would have been unwise as well as fruitless.”