Friday 24 October 2014

Radical cleric Abu Qatada wins deportation fight

Terri Judd

Published 27/03/2013 | 16:06

BRITISH government attempts to deport the radical cleric Abu Qatada were rebuffed yet again today as the British Home Secretary lost her case before the Court of Appeal.

Theresa May's lawyers had argued that a decision by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) that he could not be removed to Jordan as there was a "real risk" evidence obtained under torture would be used against him was legally flawed.

But today Lord Dyson, the Master of the Rolls, and two other judges unanimously rejected the appeal.

The Home Office immediately issued a statement, announcing that it would fight the ruling.

"This is not the end of the road, and the Government remains determined to deport Abu Qatada. We will consider this judgement carefully and plan to seek leave to appeal.

"In the meantime we continue to work with the Jordanians to address the outstanding legal issues preventing deportation," said a spokesman.

SIAC decided in November that Qatada - whose real name is Omar Othman, could not be removed to Jordan, where he was convicted of terror charges in his absence in 1999, without "a real risk" of evidence obtained through torture being used against him at a retrial.

But Mrs May's legal team argued at a recent hearing that the Islamic extremist was a "truly dangerous" individual who escaped deportation because SIAC had "erred in law".

Dismissing the appeal today, the judges said: "Criticisms of this kind of a decision by a specialist tribunal are particularly difficult to sustain....we are satisfied that SIAC did not commit any legal errors."

"The court recognises that Mr Othman is regarded by the UK government as a danger to national security and understands that there is a general feeling that his deportation to Jordan to face trial is long overdue.  But the legal principles that SIAC had to apply are clear and well established," the judges said.

They continued: "The fact that Mr Othman is considered to be dangerous is not relevant to the application of these principles any more than it would be relevant if the issue was whether he should be deported to a country where he would be at risk of facing torture himself.  This court can only interfere with a decision of SIAC where an error of law had been identified.  SIAC was entitled to reach the conclusion that it did on the facts of this case and the SSHD (Secretary of State for the Home Department) has failed to identify any error of law.

Qatada was recently taken back into custody after he was arrested for alleged breaches of his bail conditions. Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stuart Osborne said last week that the hate preacher was being investigated over extremist material. A hearing to consider whether he should be granted bail again was postponed last Thursday.

Independent News Service

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