High Court judges in London yesterday dismissed a challenge by Home Secretary Theresa May against the decision by an immigration court that Qatada should be allowed to stay in the UK.
They ruled that the original decision to block deportation was right because of the “real risk” evidence obtained through torture could be used against him if he were returned to face terror charges in Jordan.
Mrs May’s legal team argued that Qatada, who has been described as Osama Bin Laden’s right-hand man in Europe, was a “truly dangerous” individual who escaped deportation through “errors of law”.
After the decision the Home Office said it would apply for leave to appeal, a step which could lead to a further hearing at the Supreme Court. A spokesman said: “This is not the end of the road, and the Government remains determined to deport Abu Qatada.”
Leading politicians criticised the court’s decision, with London mayor Boris Johnson calling the ruling “utter madness”.
The appeal was launched after the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) ruled in November that Qatada should not be deported to Jordan, where he was convicted of terror charges in his absence in 1999.
The SIAC judges said that evidence from Qatada’s former co-defendants Abu Hawsher and Al-Hamasher, said to have been obtained by torture, could be used against him in a retrial.
Dismissing Mrs May’s appeal and upholding Siac’s decision, Lord Dyson ruled: “Siac was entitled to conclude that there is a real risk that the impugned statements will be admitted in evidence at a retrial and that, in consequence, there is a real risk of a flagrant denial of justice.”
He said the fact that Qatada “is regarded as a very dangerous person” was not a relevant consideration under human rights laws.