Coffee House

What can Theresa May do to deport Abu Qatada?

12 November 2012

5:33 PM

12 November 2012

5:33 PM

Theresa May gave a defiant statement to the house on the Special Immigration Appeals Committee’s (SIAC)  decision to uphold Abu Qatada’s appeal against deportation to Jordan on grounds that he would not receive a fair trial. She vowed to fight on by ‘appealing the decision’, which prompts the question: how will she do that?

It’s necessary to understand what the SIAC considered (here is its judgment and here is a précis). First, it examined whether or not evidence given by Qatada’s former co-defendants in an earlier trial (from which Qatada was absent), Abu Hawsher and Al-Hamasher, is admissible in Qatada’s retrial. This question is not initially concerned with whether the evidence was obtained under torture, merely if it is admissible under Jordanian law. Jordanian law cannot answer the question; so the SIAC declined to reached a decision, ruling that ‘until and unless the [Jordanian] Court of Cassation gives an authoritative ruling on the question, it must remain open.’

An obvious route, then, is for the Home Office not to appeal the SIAC’s decision but rather to change the case’s facts (and therefore start a new deportation process, perhaps with a higher chance of success) by convincing the Jordanians to change the law so that, in the words of the SIAC’s judgment, ‘statements made to a public prosecutor by accomplices who are no longer subject to criminal proceedings cannot be admitted probatively against a returning fugitive.’


This would remove the question of torture, in this instance at least. However, it may be that the Jordanian prosecuting authorities believe such evidence to be vital to their case, and therefore will insist that it remains admissible. In which case, we turn to the question of whether there was a ‘real risk’ of that evidence being obtained under torture. This was the second issue considered by the SIAC. It reached the conclusion that there was a ‘real risk’ because relevant authorities had not proved to a sufficient degree that the evidence was obtained legitimately once a ‘substantial risk’ had been established.

As the lawyer Carl Gardner points out in an excellent and hugely informative post, an appeal against the SAIC’s judgment can only be made on a question of law rather than a question of fact. The problem is that foreign laws are, by definition, a question of fact in British courts. Gardner lists several clever ways in which the relevant points in the Qatada case can be framed as a question of law to satisfy the British courts that there are grounds for appeal. These schemes range from challenging the SIAC’s assumptions about what constitutes ‘real risk’ to demonstrating that the SIAC has defined ‘real risk’ as ‘some risk’.

Gardner is confident that the Home Secretary can appeal on those terms. Yet presumably any appeal would still be determined by the ability of Jordanian authorities to prove to an acceptable standard that the evidence was not procured by torture. This has been a sticking point for both the SIAC and the ECtHR thus far. How might their underlying concern be allayed in future? The Jordanian government has assured the British government that no evidence obtained through torture would be used against Qatada. Clearly those assurances were not sufficient for the SIAC. Plainly something greater than words is required unless the SIAC’s core assumptions were misguided.

These questions are difficult and confounding, especially given Qatada’s proclivities, hypocrisies and open animosities; but due process in these matters is a price of civilisation.

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Show comments
  • Junis

    Why are ‘white’ Britons so much against Abu Qatada when they cannot, with the best will in the world, name the victims of his ‘evilness’? Do ‘white’ Britons REALLY think that disagreeable ‘brown’ Muslim men are a threat to their national security as compared to child abusing ‘white’ paedophiles ? It is time not only to stop being racist but also time to stop being morally stupid.

  • John Maloney

    The one key thing she can do, is to persuade her Europhile colleagues to get out of the EU asap. There is no hiding the fact that the EU is doomed. If only politicians would accept it.

  • Judith

    Democracy FAIL!

  • Silverghost

    The main worry is whether he will be tortured by the Jordanian authorities. There’s an easy solution; send Qatada to Jordan with an escort – George Entwistle, he’s not got anything to do right now and has had his salary paid – to check each day on his wellbeing. A cheap hotel for Entwistle would be cheaper than paying lawyers.

  • Boudicca_Icenii

    Put him a plane.
    But that would require guts and a two-fingered salute to the ECHR which raised the bar of protection for foreign terrorists living in the UK so it won’t happen.

  • Mike Waller

    What has gone wrong with out judiciary? In the case of Lord Haw-Haw they managed to get him hung for treason in spite of his not being a British citizen. O for the creative judges of yesteryear!!! [:-)]

  • William Blakes Ghost

    but due process in these matters is a price of civilisation.

    Civlisation has existed for 5,000 years but only in this country in recent decades does it involve giving succour to those who would see innocent British citizens dead!

    It has a nothing to do with civilisation but everything to do with the malignancy that infects our political classes and has done this country so much damage. Its time the freakshow stopped stroking its tender consciences (political onanism perhaps?) and did what is best for the people of this country. In this case deport Qatada and screw the courts!

  • David Lindsay

    It is good to see at least an implicit British Government
    acknowledgement of the sovereignty of Palestine on both Banks of the
    Jordan, where both legislatures have reserved Christian representation,
    in stark contrast to somewhere else that one could mention. And by all
    means let us exclude foreign preachers of hate from this country.
    Including Abu Qatada. Among other Islamists.

    Such as the black-shirted
    pimp and heroin-trafficker Hashim Thaçi, who is somehow also both a
    Wahhabi and a Maoist – he really is what the more hysterical Tea Party
    attendees imagine President Obama to be. Such as the terrorist Akhmed Zakayev,
    whom this country currently harbours. Such as the recently apprehended
    terrorist Abdulmalik Rigi. And such as the even more recently arrested
    war criminal Ejup Ganic.

    It is quite a list: Bosnia, Kosovo,
    Iraq, and now Libya (polygamy legalised as the first act of the
    unelected government) and the Fourth Caliphate of Tunisia, with Syria and Lebanon to
    follow, with Iran next on the list after that, and with Chechnya and
    Xinjiang always bubbling away in the background. Doesn’t it make you

    However, also including those American and other
    ecclesiastics who have expressed racist views about Africans and others
    who do not share their liberal sexual morality. Also including Hans
    Küng, whose disparagement of Blessed John Paul the Great’s Polishness
    made and make them the authentic voice of the age-old Teutonic racism
    against the Slavs; Küng only gets away with it because he is Swiss.

    including Avigdor Lieberman, the members of his party, and those who
    sit in coalition with them. Also including the EDL-supporting leaders of
    the Tea Party. Also including Geert Wilders, among a whole host of
    others whose presence most certainly would not be, and periodically is
    not, conducive to the public good. For example, the signatories to the
    Project for the New American Century. And the Patrons of the Henry
    Jackson Society.

    No less unconducive is our subjugation to the
    legislative will of the sorts of people that turn up in the European
    Parliament and in the coalitions represented in the EU Council of
    Ministers. Stalinists and Trotskyists. Neo-Fascists and neo-Nazis.
    Members of Eastern Europe’s kleptomaniac nomenklatura.
    Neoconservatives such as now run France and Germany. Dutch
    ultra-Calvinists who will not have women as candidates. Members of the
    technocratic dictatorships that have been imposed on Italy and Greece.
    Before long, the ruling Islamists of Turkey. And their opponents,
    variously extreme secular ultranationalists and Marxist Kurdish

    When Jörg Haider’s party was in government in
    Austria, the totally unreconstructed Communist Party was in government
    in France. In the Council of Ministers, we were being legislated for by
    both of them. In the European Parliament, we still are, because we
    always are. People who believe the Provisional Army Council to be the
    sovereign body throughout Ireland may not take their seats at
    Westminster. But they do at Strasbourg. And so on, and on, and on. That
    is not conducive to the public good, either.

    Nor is the (often
    desperately ignorant) African-American takeover of our black politics,
    which is of overwhelmingly Afro-Caribbean or African origin, and barely,
    if at all, related to African-American culture. If the things being
    colonised from Harlem and Chicago were being run from the Caribbean or
    from Africa, as they sometimes have been and are, then that would be bad
    enough. This, however, is not merely outrageous, although it is
    certainly that. It is downright bizarre. And it is not conducive to the
    public good.

    Any more than is subjugation of our foreign and
    defence policy to the United States, or the supremacy of EU over British
    law, or the above-mentioned fact that we are all subject to the
    legislative will of the assorted head cases who turn up in the European
    Parliament and the Council of Ministers, or the separatist
    administration in Scotland, or the sometime presence of a borderline separatist
    and undoubtedly language-fascist party in that of Wales, or the running
    of Northern Ireland by the alliance between a fringe fundamentalist sect
    and people who believe the Provisional Army Council to the sovereign
    body throughout Ireland. All of that is well-known, although none of it
    is anywhere near as profoundly appreciated as it ought to be.

    as if all, or even any, of that were not bad enough, we now have all
    political parties in certain Midland, Yorkshire and North-Western towns
    and cities run as (by no means always predictable) proxies for rival
    factions in Pakistan, to the extent that the rally designed to name Asif
    Ali Zardari’s son as sole Chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party was
    held in Birmingham, with a large rival demonstration outside; Glasgow is
    heading the same way, as both Labour’s selection of a candidate for its
    safe seat of Glasgow Central, and the scramble for the Conservatives’
    list seat at Holyrood, made abundantly clear.

    We now have an
    entire London Borough in which political life is being directed from
    Bangladesh, even if one does have to laugh at the implicit suggestion
    that the East End was somehow a model of probity before the Bengalis
    shipped up. We now have thriving scenes loyal to each of Hindutva and
    Khalistan, both of which were significant at the Ealing Southall
    by-election. And so on, and on, and on.

    What’s that you say?
    Immigration? Well, it is a contributing factor, of course, although few
    voters for the SNP, fewer for Plaid Cymru, and none for the DUP or Sinn
    Féin are immigrants, or the children of immigrants, or the grandchildren
    of immigrants, or the great-grandchildren of immigrants.

    what of the burgeoning white nationalist movement, increasingly centred,
    not even on the collapsing BNP, but on the EDL, which has deep, deep
    roots in the “casual” football hooliganism of the 1980s and 1990s? It,
    too, is foreign-funded and foreign-controlled, by the Tea Party and by
    the secular Israeli Hard Right, which is currently in government, and
    whose American branch office was recently addressed by one Rupert

    Ah, yes, Rupert Murdoch. He, too, is not conducive to
    the public good. He, too, having renounced his allegiance to the Queen,
    is not only a preacher of hate, but a foreign preacher of hate. I wish
    that I could say that he was not allowed in my country. Though not as
    much as I wish that I could say that his fugitive son had been sent back
    here to stand trial. No one, including Abu Hamza, should be extradited
    from the United Kingdom to the United States until that has been
    accomplished. Nor while Congressman Peter King, that foreign preacher of
    hate, is still alive.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Go lie down.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Interesting. I enjoyed reading it. I usually don’t but fair dos.

      • David Lindsay

        You are very kind.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          Go lie down… the both of you.

          • Colonel Mustard

            Actually I think there is much in the comment that warrants attention and one might wish that some of the more mainstream analysis was less superficial and as thought-provoking. Yes, it is long for a comment, but that is rather the point.

            • the viceroy’s gin

              Read it again after you’ve had your lie down.

    • Junis

      You sent a very long comment and not received a single vote up. How funny is that? 🙂 You’re not even going to get one from me.

      • David Lindsay

        You are on the wrong site, dear.

        • Junis

          The moral of this is that a comment that shows brevity will be much more appreciated by the reader,

          • David Lindsay

            The reader with only an adolescent attention span, perhaps. But he shouldn’t be on here, or up at this hour, in the first place. 🙂

            • the viceroy’s gin

              Neither should you be. Go lie down.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    She could pretend that the interests of taxpayers and subjects are more important than those of terrorist supporting freeloaders or unelected New World Order foreign judges.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      Yes, but she’ll be needing a job with the EU after the Cameroons get booted out.

      So best for her to respect the EUSSR’s court order.

  • The_Missing_Think

    “These questions are difficult and confounding, especially given Qatada’s
    proclivities, hypocrisies and open animosities; but due process in
    these matters is a price of civilisation.”

    Civilisation has the right to defend itself, in the same the violent burglar is dealt with, planetary rules apply, if needs must.

    WWII gives plenty of examples of Churchillian needs must exception to the rule decisions and actions, when dealing with threats towards our civilisation.

    Rule number one. In order to survive, you have to survive, there no exceptions.

    Rule number two. Be civilised, due process respected to the hilt, bar rule one.

    True or false?

    “But President Sarkozy’s decision, last week, summarily to deport two individuals known to have been involved in terrorism back to their own countries – in defiance of rulings from the European Court of Human Rights”

    • Daniel Maris

      Exactly. This guy was a member of an organisation that literally declared war on us and pursued that war without any regard to the Geneva conventions.

      Our judges are simply not prepared to accept that fact.

      • The_Missing_Think

        – Daniel Maris,

        Yesterday: 11th 11th.

        “A British soldier from the Royal Scots Borderers, 1st Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland, has died after an “insider attack” at his base in Afghanistan.

        The soldier was killed on Sunday while in patrol base Shawqat, in the Nad-e Ali district of Helmand province…”

        To me, Abu Qatada’s bail and benefits, openly mocks the meaningless waste of such British lives.

  • Daveyyy12

    Give us a vote on the EU. The liberal elite will have fits and may stop them putting two fingers at us for a bit.

  • salieri

    “The Jordanian government has assured the British government that no evidence
    obtained through torture would be used against Qatada. Clearly those assurances
    were not sufficient for the SIAC. Plainly something greater than words is
    required unless the SIAC’s core assumptions were misguided.”

    Good analysis of the Alice through the Looking Glass world of Human Rights.

    First, the English Court has to grapple with concepts of Jordanian law about which the competing experts fundamentally disagree.

    Second, it has to make findings of fact about the politico-legal process in Jordan about which the competing experts fundamentally disagree (leaving aside the obvious and in some instances intemperate subjectivity of their own opinions).

    Finally, as you say, words are indeed not good enough when it comes to proof that statements which might (not have, but might) have been obtained through torture would not be used. But words are good enough to turn everything else upside down. For admissible evidence to be rendered – hey presto – inadmissible, the defendant proves nothing. The authorities have to prove a negative. The Court must assume there is a “real risk” unless they prove that there isn’t. And on top of that they have to prove this “to a high standard” (paragraph 73 of the judgment). How could this high standard conceivably be met, above and beyond the Jordanian authorities’ own assurances? We are not told. We won’t be told. We shouldn’t expect to be told. As we have seen time and time again, the world of Human Rights assumes not merely the accused’s innocence, which is right and proper, but the state’s guilt, which isn’t.

    It isn’t SIAC’s core assumptions that are misguided. It’s the ECHR’s lunatic interpretation of a Convention which means everything and nothing – and which our courts are obliged to follow, whether they like it or not.

    Now,who was it we have to thank for enshrining this Convention in English law in 1998?

    • Slim Jim

      Quite, and the person who can amend the law to make it fit for purpose for the British people will be playing a blinder politically. One can dream…

  • Junis

    Why would she want to deport ANY Muslim guy when ‘white’ British children are under attack by ‘white’ paedophiles?

    • Hexhamgeezer

      I don’t think any of the muslim gang rapists infesting the country are up for deportation (more’s the pity).

  • Snotty Muldoon

    He actually got here on a forged passport.
    Surely a good enough reason to repatriate him.
    The Airline who failed to check his docs are responsible for his return ticket.

  • Phil McIntyre

    Do exactly as France did. Deport him tomorrow (then ban him from ever returning to the UK). Wait for the £20,000 fine from the European Court. Pay it. Forget about him.

  • HooksLaw

    Now I see the nut jobs are out to encourage the government of the day to break the law.

    Has this person broken any UK laws? I simply ask. If so then he should be charged here.
    Meantime if judges are wrongly interpreting the law then the law should be changed, this will merit discussion and vote in parliament.

    If this person arrived here illegally direct from Jordan that compounds our difficulty, but if he came here via a third country then he should be sent back there and UK law clarified accordingly.

    • Daveyyy12

      Just make a retrospective law and deport him.

      The last Labour government made a retrospective law. Anything to keep the pedantry happy.

    • Vulture

      I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you are a fecking idiot.

    • Sean

      Did he break any Uk law? The answer is a resounding yes. He entered the country on a false passport as an illegal immigrant. So yes deport him.

    • Boudicca_Icenii

      Yes. He’s an illegal immigrant.

  • vix

    Huff and puff from another wet (defiant!) Conservative.
    A court of record can muddle or weasel word quality (‘real’) with quantity (‘some’)?
    Cannot ‘some’ risk be ‘real’ then?

    Sounds more like the civil service than highly paid legal beagles, Minister.

    Perhaps Teresa, as a law maker in Parliament, could change our law to deal with the case another way – rather than shouldering it off to Jordan. Or perhaps we can’t change our law without Merkel’s say-so?

    Agree with Old Cynic.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      So the domestic courts approved a deportation, but as soon as the EU decided to act against it, the deportation was vacated?

      Might as well cut out the middle man, and go straight to Brussels for everything. It will be cheaper.

      • vix

        I might have misunderstood, TVG. SIAC is still a UK body I think. My doubt was whether we are able to change law without EU permissions now.

  • barbie

    Just deport him and we’ll take the consequences, has a nation. We can shoulder that I’m sure. All in this country would support such an action, except for the few foolish ones. Who cares what becomes of him, Jordan as given its word once, is that not good enough? Put him on a plane tonight and let him fight from his own country like we’re fighting for ours.

    • dalai guevara

      Well well well – and what ‘damage’ can he realistically do here? I for one am sure that a solution will one day be found, but not by willfully ignoring the rule of law.

  • Daniel Maris

    She can ask the RAF to transport him to Jordan and thus defy any court order not to do so. She can then go to prison as a martyr to democracy if any judge is foolish enough to jail her for her actions. The whole Cabinet should sign up to the order. All the chiefs of staff shoudl be required to sign up as well.

    We simply can’t have the judges ruling this country, any more than we can have generals or police chiefs ruling this country.

    • jazz6o6

      Dead right. Why can’t there just be a simple vote in parliament should be enough to deport him.

  • CJ

    She should just do the right thing. And, in this case, the right thing is to deport this animal. She should ignore what the left wing establishment say in support of this tw*t staying here – they’re wrong.

    • CJ

      Just almost pissed myself laughing at Chatshow Chakrabarti losing the plot on newsnight, on this subject. The roll call of who’d be upset by deporting this evil tw*t tells me that putting him on a plane is exactly the right thing to do.

  • Slim Jim

    What kind of civilisation is it that has created laws that mean we cannot defend ourselves against foreign criminals? Answer: a temporary one.

    • Dicky14

      A Libertarian one.

      • patricia

        Libertarian for whom ?

    • telemachus

      I’ve just been to the new Bond movie.
      What did we create 007 for?
      Does not May have charge of MI5?

  • Old Cynic

    France is a very civilised country yet it still ignored their courts and deported not one but two terrorists. Copy them.

    • Junis

      The only area where France is civilised is where she understands that her cuisine is far superior than that of an average ‘white’ British female.

      • Ruben

        You’ve obviously never been to France. The food is awful. And there are plenty of excellent cooks in this country, most of them female.

    • HooksLaw

      Almamy Baradji was deported for breaking French law (urging women to wear the veil). Was he a terrorist?

      • Boudicca_Icenii

        He shouldn’t have encouraged (bullied) women to break French law. If you’re a guest in a country, you follow their laws or you get thrown out.