Battle to deport Qatada rages on
The Government's battle to boot hate preacher Abu Qatada out of the country is to rage on after appeal judges rejected the latest in a long line of attempts to remove him.
Infuriating politicians and campaigners, in reaching its conclusion the Court of Appeal said it was not "relevant" that terror suspect Qatada was regarded as "extremely dangerous".
The Home Office immediately hit back as it vowed to seek leave to appeal and said it was determined to remove Qatada, who is currently locked up in Belmarsh prison. "This is not the end of the road," a department spokesman said.
The Labour party labelled the ruling "extremely disappointing", while London mayor Boris Johnson said it was "utter madness that we can't get shot of this man".
The Government has now been trying to deport the radical cleric to Jordan, where he was convicted of terror charges in his absence in 1999, for nearly eight years.
Immigration judges decided last year that Qatada, also known as Omar Othman, could not be deported over fears evidence obtained through torture would be used against him. The Home Secretary's lawyers challenged the ruling on the grounds that Qatada was a "truly dangerous" individual who had escaped deportation through "errors of law".
But three Court of Appeal judges said the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (Siac) was entitled to conclude that disputed statements will be used against Qatada.
Lord Dyson, sitting with Lord Justice Richards and Lord Justice Elias, said Qatada is "regarded by the United Kingdom Government as an exceptionally high risk terrorist".
He went on: "It is entirely understandable that there is a general feeling that his deportation to Jordan to face trial is long overdue.
"But the principles that we have to apply do not distinguish between extremely dangerous persons and others who may not constitute any danger in the United Kingdom and whom the Secretary of State wishes to deport to face trial in another country. The fact that Mr Othman is considered to be a dangerous terrorist is not relevant to the issues that are raised on this appeal."