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ECHR says Qatada appeal within deadline

ECHR says Qatada appeal within deadline
The Council of Europe has contradicted the Home Secretary's insistance that Abu Qatada's appeal against his deportation had missed the deadline.

Theresa May is also under fire within the Coalition, with Tim Farron describing the debacle as an "Olympic-standard screw up".

The Lib Dem president's comments on Question Time come as David Cameron earlier tried to draw a line under the row over the timing of Abu Qatada's arrest, saying he wished he could personally "put him on a plane myself".

The Prime Minister said: "He is a danger to our country and we want to remove him from our country. However long it takes, however many difficulties there are along the way, we will get it done.

"I sometimes wish I could put him on a plane and take him to Jordan myself, but the Government has to act within the law. That is what we will do, we will get this done."

Theresa May insisted in the Commons today the Government would continue to pursue the case of deporting Mr Qatada, but warned that it may take "many months".

Responding to an Urgent Question in the House of Commons, the Home Secretary dismissed Mr Qatada's appeal to the European Court, and added she was confident of the Government's eventual success.

Lawyers for the Government have insisted that Mr Qatada has missed the deadline for an appeal against his deportation.

The Home Secretary said: "The Government is clear that Abu Qatada has no right to refer the case to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights, since the three-month deadline to do so lapsed at midnight on Monday."

She added: "Abu Qatada remains in detention, and the Government will resist vigorously any application he might make to be released on bail....Despite the progress we have made, the process of deporting Abu Qatada is likely to take many months."

The Home Affairs Select Committee this afternoon confirmed that it had asked Ms May to attend a session next Tuesday to give evidence regarding Mr Qatada's case.

His removal to Jordan on bomb plotting charges will now be delayed until the ECHR decides whether to hear the case.

With Labour MPs attacking the Home Secretary's actions, the Prime Minister is standing behind Ms May. Asked this morning whether David Cameron was happy with the Home Office's handling of the issue, a Number 10 spokeswoman said: "We're quite confident that we are right and the Home Office has acted in the right way."

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke dismissed this latest hold-up in the case as a "procedural wrangle", telling BBC News: "Everybody seems to be wildly excited about a procedural wrangle at the beginning of the process. I may be a little out of touch, having not read all this morning's newspapers, but I'm not quite sure why."

Speaking on the Daily Politics show this lunchtime, David Laws defended the Home Secretary's position despite suggestions from Labour Ms May had mishandled the case.

He said: "I think her position is absolutely secure but the Government and the Home Secretary herself will be absolutely furious about this."

 

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