Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Court reserves judgment on Qatada

Home Secretary Theresa May has lost her appeal challenge over the decision to block Abu Qatada's deportation

The Court of Appeal has reserved judgment on a bid by Home Secretary Theresa May to overturn a decision allowing radical preacher Abu Qatada to stay in the UK.

Mrs May's legal team submitted in a one-day hearing in London that he was a "truly dangerous" individual who escaped deportation through "errors of law".

The Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) decided in November that Qatada could not be removed to Jordan, where he was convicted of terror charges in his absence in 1999.

Siac judges said there was a "real risk" that evidence from Qatada's former co-defendants Abu Hawsher and Al-Hamasher, who were allegedly tortured, could be used against him at a retrial, breaching his human rights.

Edward Fitzgerald QC, appearing for Qatada, now in his early 50s, argued the Siac ruling was right and there was "concrete and compelling evidence" that Qatada's co-defendants were tortured into providing evidence. There was "a real risk of a flagrant denial of justice" and that evidence being used against him.

But James Eadie QC, appearing for Mrs May, said the Siac decision should be quashed. He argued the Siac judges, chaired by Mr Justice Mitting, had taken an "erroneous" view of the position in Jordan and the legal tests that had to be applied.

Mr Eadie said the Jordanian constitution "prohibits clearly and expressly the use of torture and the reliance on any statement obtained under duress, including torture".

He said there was no reason to believe that Jordanian judges would not take into account whether evidence could not be relied upon because it had been obtained by torture. That was a matter for Jordan, and Siac erred in blocking deportation, argued Mr Eadie.

Following a one-day hearing, Lord Dyson, the Master of the Rolls, sitting with Lord Justice Richards and Lord Justice Elias, said the court would take time to consider its decision.

Qatada, who was living on bail at his family's London address, is back in custody after his home was searched last week. Strict bail conditions include a 22-hour home curfew and restrictions on Qatada's ability to communicate with others. A further hearing relating to bail is expected on March 21.

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