More bad news this week for British Home Secretary Theresa May, who scrapped the UK Border Agency as she lost her appeal against a ruling preventing the deportation of preacher Abu Qatada.
May launched the appeal after Immigration Judges at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) ruled that the radical cleric could not be returned to Jordan because he could face an unfair trial involving evidence obtained by torturing others.
The Home Office insisted it would continue with a further appeal, adding: “This is not the end of the road. The government remains determined to deport Abu Qatada.”
A spokesman said: “In the meantime we continue to work with the Jordanians to address the outstanding legal issues preventing deportation.”
The senior Judges accepted that Qatada “is regarded as a very dangerous person”, but argued it was not “a relevant consideration” under human rights laws.
In their judgement, Lord Dyson, Lord Justice Richards and Lord Justice Elias, said the appeals commission was entitled to think there was a risk the “impugned statements” would be admitted in evidence at a retrial. This meant there was “a real risk of a flagrant denial of justice”.
Abu Qatada’s legal team yet to lodge a bail application with the Special Immigration Appeals Commission in time for the Easter break, which means he remains in detention.
However, immigration detention can only be used to hold someone if there is a realistic prospect the person is going to be deported.
Earlier this month Qatada was re-arrested and returned to Belmarsh prison following an alleged breach of bail conditions, concerning the use of communications equipment at his home.
Although the Metropolitan Police said his breach was linked to an investigation into extremist internet material, Abu Qatada has never actually been charged with an offence in the UK.
At the Court of Appeal hearing this month, lawyers for the UK government argued a block on his deportation should be lifted, saying a “fair” trial in Jordan was possible.
James Eadie QC, appearing for Mrs May, said SIAC had taken an “erroneous” view of the situation in Jordan and the legal tests that had to be applied when it came to assessing the conditions Abu Qatada could face there.
He said Jordanian law bans the use of torture and reliance on statements extracted under duress.
Jordanians will do everything in their power to make sure Abu Qatada receives a trial that was “fair and seen to be so”, he added.
But lawyers for Abu Qatada countered that the court that the UK should not send someone back to a country with a “dubious human rights record”.
Edward Fitzgerald QC, appearing for the cleric, argued the SIAC ruling was correct and there was “concrete and compelling evidence” that his co-defendants were tortured into providing evidence.
He said government lawyers had “identified no error of law” and were “quarrelling with findings of fact”.
Qatada was first arrested in October 2002 in south London and detained in Belmarsh high-security prison. He was re-arrested and released on bail number of times over the years that followed.
In November 2012, he was released on bail from prison in when the courts blocked the Home Secretary’s latest attempt to deport him to Jordan. Source: BBC.
This week the Home Secretary Theresa May announced that the troubled UK Border Agency is to be abolished with its immigration work returning to the Home Office, both of which have been trying to deport Qatada and others for a decade.
Deporting illegal immigrants who arrive in Britain without a visa or valid passport may be costing up to £100million a year, and an ippr report a few years ago concluded that it would cost £5 billion and take 20 years to remove half a million illegal immigrants and visa overstayers from the UK.
Cynthia Barker of immigration advisers Bison UK is worried that, unlike Qatada, many people who are detained are often intimidated by the experience and feel rushed into leaving voluntarily or are scared to seek legal advice.
“Some clients have left voluntarily when they had a right to appeal or stay in the UK, for instance because they are in a relationship and have children.
“Even overstayers can avoid removal if they have an EEA partner. In a recent case we managed to pull one of our overstaying student clients off a deportation flight ten minutes before take off because he was in a genuine relationship, and therefore a human right to a family life under article 8, with his Eastern European girlfriend.”
Cynthia advises clients to always carry contact details for their immigration adviser or lawyer, as you never know when you might need them in an emergency.
If you have been detained and need advice, you can reach Cynthia on 0208 905 1822.
If you have been arrested or detained, need any immigration advice or are worried about the new immigration rules or need help with Sponsorship or Tier 1, 2, Tier 4, applying for university if your college has closed, Spouse Visa, ILR/Settlement, Citizenship, Dependant Visa or an appeal against a refusal, or if you have been waiting for a reply from the Home Office for longer than a year, please email:
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