Qatada and his family have cost the British taxpayer an estimated £2.8m
Last November I wrote this when our illustrious Home Secretary, Theresa May, was under pressure to resign following a complete mess up within the Border Agency. She managed to survive that one. Whether or not she deserves to survive the Abu Qatada fiasco is another question.
Qatada is a Jordanian who came to the UK with his family is 1993 and was granted asylum in 1994. He was convicted, in his absence, in 1999 by Jordanian courts for terrorism offences and his extradition was requested. Since 2002 Qatada has been in and out of custody while British authorities have tried to secure his extradition to Jordan. Qatada has, unsurprisingly, fought this extradition tooth and nail. In February 2009 the Law Lords decided that he could be extradited to Jordan. Qatada's lawyers appealed this to the European Court of Human Rights.
On the 17th January 2012 the European Court decided that Qatada could not be extradited as it would breach his right to a fair trial. While the British Government sought assurances regarding this issue from Jordon, Qatada was released on bail. Having received these assurances, the Home Secretary decided to have Qatada arrested and deported on the Tuesday 17th April in the belief that this date was outside of the 3 month appeal limit on the European Courts decision.
There have been a number of cases from the European Court that have made it clear that the appeal period starts on the day after the decision of the Court. It has come to light that a number of legal experts contacted the Home Office to ensure they were aware that the appeal period ended on the 18th April. Somehow this information was overlooked and the arrest went ahead followed immediately by the inevitable appeal. This now means that, once again, Qatada cannot be deported and another lengthy and expensive appeals process will now commence.
It has been estimated that Qatada and his family have cost the British taxpayer £2.8 million, to date, in benefits and legal fees.
Theresa May has clearly been badly advised in this matter but she is the decision maker and ultimately responsible. There are always calls for incompetent public sector managers to be sacked. I think it is time Mrs May stepped up to the mark and threw herself on her sword.