Abu Qatada asks to move house at taxpayer's expense
Radical cleric, newly released from prison, is not happy in his £400,000 house in Wembley
RADICAL cleric Abu Qatada has asked to be relocated at the taxpayer's expense, according to his lawyers. Qatada was released from Long Lartin prison in Worcestershire this week on bail after a court ruled he should not be deported to his native Jordan because he could not be guaranteed a fair trial there on terrorism charges.
Qatada, who lives in a £400,000 house in Wembley, northwest London, is said to be paying £1,900 per month in rent – funded through benefits, The Daily Telegraph reports. He was only moved to the house in February this year when he was briefly freed on bail after an earlier court ruling.
It is unclear why Qatada wants to move house, but it has been suggested it might be because he wants more space for his wife and five children. More likely, he has complained about the constant media presence in the street outside.
Around 60 officers from Scotland Yard, MI5 and a private security company are involved in a £100,000-a-week surveillance operation surrounding Qatada, who is allowed to leave his home for eight hours a day, between 8am and 4pm. Police cars are parked outside his house and undercover officers are ready to follow him if he goes outside.
Qatada has also been fitted with a GPS tag, which means his movements will be monitored by a satellite.
If the views of neighbours quoted in the Daily Star today reflect the general feeling in Qatada's street, the radical cleric will not be missed.
A 55-year-old resident called Jim is upset at the cost of looking after Qatada. "I don't see why we should have to subsidise him," he said. "People in this street have had their benefits cut. He doesn't deserve benefits. I wish he would live somewhere else."
Ex-soldier Aaron Baker, 31, said he was "disgusted and scared" Qatada was so close, adding: "Nobody would want somebody like that, with his links, in their area. He does not belong here." ·