Angry MP: 'deport Abu Qatada and damn the consequences'
Forget legal niceties: backbencher wants freed radical cleric put on first plane to Jordan
THERE IS a growing clamour this morning for the British government to put extremist cleric Abu Qatada on a plane to Jordan and damn the legal consequences.
"The system is being made a monkey of," Baroness (Pauline) Neville-Jones, a former head of the Joint Intelligence Committee, told the Today programme this morning. "Deportation is an executive power. I do share the view that the executive ought to be able to exercise that power against someone who is not a British citizen."
She believed yesterday's decision by the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) was extraordinary. The court had decided Abu Qatada would get a fair trial in Jordan, she said, but it got "hung up" on the narrow point about the admissibility of evidence obtained via torture.
As for the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, she accused it of "raising the bar". The ECHR had originally objected to Abu Qatada's deportation because he faced the risk of torture. When Jordan guaranteed its legal processes, Strasbourg came up with a new objection, that he might be convicted based on witness evidence gained under torture.
The case illustrates that the British legal system is only too happy to elevate the "rights" of terrorists over the rights of UK citizens, columnist Richard Littlejohn says in The Daily Mail.
The government's failure to repeal the European law "at the root of all this madness" means Britain will continue to be "a taxpayer-subsidised playground for foreign jihadists, murderers and torturers, as well a lucrative meal ticket for opportunist lawyers filling their boots at the 'yuman rites' trough."
The Daily Telegraph asks if any other country in the world would have been willing to demonstrate its "judicial impotence" in such a "humiliating" fashion.
"At every turn, Qatada and his lawyers have used human rights laws to thwart his deportation to his native Jordan, where he is wanted for terrorist offences," the paper says. "SIAC says he cannot be guaranteed a fair trial because the evidence against him may have been extracted under torture, though there is no proof that this is so.
"In any case, the reason why successive governments have sought to get rid of Qatada was not so that he could stand trial but to remove an enemy of the state from our midst."
Qatada was due to be released on bail today from the maximum security prison HMP Long Lartin in Worcestershire. He will wear an electronic tag and be subject to a 16-hour curfew. He will not be allowed to use the internet.
Leading the calls from MPs for the government to ignore SIAC and the ECHR and deport Qatada forthwith is Tory Peter Bone. "Enough is enough – put this terrorist on a plane and send him home and worry about the European Court afterwards," he told ITV's Daybreak this morning.