Abu Qatada 6 : UK Government 0 6

Yesterday was in some respects different to last year, in that it snowed, however in some other respects completely the same, namely that Abu Qatada had won his latest appeal against the UK Government adding more to the bill for UK Tax Payers.

In a 10 year legal battle that has seen Mr Qatada receive over £500,000 support in legal aid, and over £5m to keep a watch on him whilst out on bail, the UK Government and Tax payer are starting to lose their patience with the apparent inability to deport someone who has been deemed to be a threat to national security.

Firstly lets get one thing straight (and as a law student I am bound to say this really), the lawyers who represent Mr Qatada are doing their job, and as I have explained in a previous blog post, the foundation which our criminal system is built on is worth defending, and not Mr Qatada himself.

The reason why Mr Qatada is still in the UK is down to an act of Parliament entitled ‘The Human Rights Act‘ which ultimately signs over our ability to legislate on matters which are deemed incompatible with the rules put forward by the European Union. Where UK law is found not to be compatible with EU law, EU law takes president.

Thats it in a nutshell, the EU has deemed it unlawful for the UK to deport Mr Qatada, and we have to abide by it. As Gerard Batten, UKIP’s home affairs spokesman said:

“The Human Rights Act has become an umbrella protecting foreign terrorists and criminal suspects from facing justice in their own countries, with the British taxpayer having to fund both their protection and the costs of the case being brought against them. It is totally and utterly ludicrous.”

It is no secret that I am a ‘euro-sceptic’, and will accept that Europe has given us quite a few good things (although non spring to mind at the moment), however this is just another reason why we should leave the EU, and another reason why I will be voting to leave the EU when we get the referendum.

The idea behind Europe of having a single trade policy is arguable to an extent where I may end up conceding on, however suggesting that several countries must be bound by laws which are set by MEP’s who don’t have our best interests at heart is just ridiculous.

Come on Theresa May, tell the EU where to go and get rid of Abu Qatada!

I hate to say this, but I can honestly see Abu Qatada being in the UK this time next year, with the UK Tax payer having an even bigger bill!

I hate to say this, but I can honestly see Abu Qatada being in the UK this time next year, with the UK Tax payer having an even bigger bill!

  • Nigel Rodley

    I think you confuse the European Union with the Council of Europe. I cannot put it any more bluntly than what is set out here;

    The Council of Europe, consisting of 47 Member States, governs the ECHR and the interpretation of those norms is carried out by the ECtHR, which only rarely makes decisions that contradicts the UK government’s intentions. Note that the HRA does not curtail Parliamentary Sovereignty, there is no power to strike down legislation that is incompatible. Parliament instead subscribed to a particular set of minimum standards that curtail the power of the Executive. A good job too, for without protection an Executive could label any one of us as dangerous, a ‘threat to national security’ and subject us to a secret trial, or use torture evidence against us in a trial, without some oversight or protection for the individual.

    Notwithstanding the protection afforded to us by the ECHR there are norms of international law that play an equally important role in preventing the action you advocate. Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights prevents a country from deporting an individual and in doing so acceding to the use of torture in that process. Not one single signatory state entered a reservation to preserve the authority to conduct such actions. On top of this the UK is a signatory to the UN Convention Against Torture and which, alongside customary rules establishing the ban on torture as jus cogens, means we cannot act incompatibly with those non-derogable obligations.

    Abu Qatada could be sent to Jordan tomorrow if they were willing to introduce legislative changes that amount to the prohibition of evidence gained through methods of torture in any criminal trial. In doing so they would be extending the same protection that we are afforded here. That is not unreasonable. It is also not the ‘EU blocking’ us from sending him back. Rather there is an entire system of rules preventing inter-state transfer on the premise of torture dating back to the Code of Hammurabi, it cannot be set aside on the grounds of political expediency.

    If Abu Qatada has committed a wrongful act, then charge him and put him on trial here. He has not done so but has been detained for an inordinate amount of time. Instead of continued detention he should be released and compensated for the inconvenience the government has caused him.

    • Nigel,

      Thank you for your comments. I must hold my hands up and say that the workings of EU Law has never been a particular strong point, especially as I believe we shouldn’t be part of Europe in the first place.

      However the concern I share with the majority of the British public is that Abu Qatada should have been deported a long time ago (if admitted to the UK at all), and our politicians are being prevented from doing so by a ‘higher authority’.

      Perhaps it boils down to PR one which the government is losing, and Abu Qatada is winning.

      Regardless, I agree with the majority of the public on this issue, and he should have gone.

    • Haydon Marks

      Nigel, I appreciate where you are coming from – however when everyone including the government want him gone (not to mention the money wasted on appeal after appeal) and we are prevented from deporting him, our Government doesn’t appear to be ‘sovereign’ at all.

  • G. Phillips

    I don’t care whether its the HRA/Europe or whatever – we want him gone, he has cost enough as it is and poses a threat, so he should be gone!

  • Kimberly Wilson

    They say its cost £500,000 in legal fees. I bet the real cost of keeping him here is at least 10 times that amount. The sooner we are out of Europe the better!

  • Jonathan Taylor

    I understand the comments from both Nigel Rodley and others. The public do have the impression (either rightly or wrongly) that no matter what the Government do to deport Abu Qatada, they fail.

    I understand the difference that exists between the legislative and executive, from where im sitting, Europe is a third party to this mix which shouldn’t really be there.

    If we weren’t part of Europe he would have been deported a long time ago.