From Bin Laden's 'right-hand man' set for life on British benefits after judges rule deportation would breach his human rights, by James Slack, dated 10 April 2008:
One of the world's most dangerous terror suspects was last night preparing for a life on benefits in Britain after judges ruled that his deportation would breach human rights law.
Abu Qatada, dubbed Osama Bin Laden's "truly dangerous" ambassador in Europe, could be released from jail within months following the Court of Appeal verdict.
Yesterday's decision has left Britain's anti-terror laws in tatters. It means the Jordanian father of five - who has been linked to a string of global terror conspiracies and is held in a high security prison under immigration powers - can expect to receive £1,000 a month in handouts.
The taxpayer also faces a bill of tens of thousand of pounds to keep the hate-filled cleric under 24-hour surveillance by security services under a control order unless a last-ditch Home Office appeal is granted by the House of Lords. Even if it is, Qatada could appeal again, to the European Court of Human Rights.
Yesterday the Court of Appeal said Qatada could stay because evidence used against him in any prosecution in his native Jordan may have been obtained by torture - a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.
At the same time, 12 Libyan fanatics were cleared to remain in Britain for the rest of their lives by a second human rights ruling. They include an asylum seeker considered a "real and direct threat" to security who had a map marked with the flightpath to Birmingham Airport.
The rulings mean that - despite Tony Blair's promise in the immediate aftermath of the 7/7 attacks that the "rules of the game have changed" - not a single international terrorist has been forcibly removed from this country.
The "War on Terror"....
Almost three years on, the only Islamic fanatics to depart are eight Algerians who went voluntarily.
I got it! Double their government stipend if they leave! Then they'll go voluntarily!
The Home Office had secured a Memorandum of Understanding with both Jordan and Libya, which said that returned terror suspects would not face torture. But judges - torpedoing the much-heralded strategy - said there was no guarantee that the Libyans would not suffer ill treatment or harm in the future.
I'm biting my tongue -- er, ah, I mean my fingers on my keyboard!
Grave doubts must now be cast on the remaining 11 deportation cases before the courts, many of which are understood to involve Algerians. A separate agreement with Algeria - which has an appalling human rights record - has yet to be tested, and could be struck down in the same way as that signed by Libya.
Tory MP Patrick Mercer, who recently advised Gordon Brown on national security, said: "Yet again, terrorists are laughing at us and remaining in this country at the taxpayer's expense.
"Abu Qatada, Bin Laden's twisted mouthpiece, stays with us inside this country. What a shambles."
"What a shambles."
Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said: "This deals a major blow to the Government's assurances that Memorandums of Understanding are the answer in seeking to deport terror suspects."
The Qatada ruling is particularly devastating for the Home Office, which has been trying to deport the former asylum seeker for three years.
He was first detained in 2002, after spending ten months on the run immediately after September 11.
Ministers had been confident he would be booted out after securing the Memorandum of Understanding with Jordan in August 2005. It gave assurances he would not be tortured or ill-treated.
But, in a ruling which displays the true reach of human rights law, the Court of Appeal said that - while Qatada might not be harmed - witnesses who may be called to give evidence against him in any future trial held by the Jordanian authorities may have been tortured.
The judges said this would be a breach of the right to a fair trial under the European Convention on Human Rights.
Qatada remains in London's Belmarsh jail with other fanatics, including hook-handed cleric Abu Hamza.
But if the Home Office loses an expected appeal to the House of Lords, Qatada will be set free. The Government has no immigration power to hold those it has no realistic prospect of deporting.
Instead, officials would have to rely on placing Qatada - whose wife and children live in West London - under a control order, and hope he does not abscond. A string of international and homegrown terrorist suspects have gone on the run while under the shambolic orders.
"...and hope he does not abscond."
They need to abscond him to some Middle East hellhole and leave him there with his jihadi buddies.
The Libyan ruling, handed down by the same three Court of Appeal judges, was equally devastating. It leaves the Memorandum of Understanding with that country in tatters.
The judges, headed by Master of the Rolls Sir Anthony Clarke, upheld an earlier ruling by the special immigration appeal court that two men known only as AS and DD could not be removed in case the agreement with Libya was breached at a later date.
The men, who had been on bail, were immediately released from any court conditions. Deportation proceedings against a further ten Libyans were abandoned, after officials admitted they had no prospect of success.
The Home Office responded by placing the men under what were described as "strict" control orders, but even the most restrictive conditions would allow the Libyans to roam the streets for ten hours each day.
Last night, Qatada's solicitor poured scorn on the Government, and Tony Blair's deportation promise, which had been part of a 12-point terror plan drawn up in direct response to the loss of 52 innocent lives in the July 7 London attacks. Many of the measures have since collapsed.
Gareth Peirce said: "It is of the greatest importance to us all that there are rules, that they cannot be changed and that they are in no way treated as a game. We welcome the court's decision."
Home Office Minister Tony McNulty said: "The Government's top objective is to keep the public safe and I am disappointed that the courts have found that deportations to Libya can't go ahead for now.
"I am pleased the courts dismissed all but one of Abu Qatada's reasons for appeal. We are seeking to overturn that point, and I believe we will be able to secure his deportation to Jordan and we will push for it as soon as possible. In the meantime, he remains behind bars."
But, of course, since then he has gotten out....
Stay tuned for more!