Qatada case shows the law is a disgrace

The news today that Abu Qatada, "Bin Laden's right hand man in Europe", and several of his fellow extremists are not only still in Britain but are being paid compensation for the inconvenience of their detention, have caused understandable disgust.


Let us be clear. Qatada hates Britain and everything it stands for. Free speech, equality for women, the right to determine one's own sexuality and religion, rock'n'roll, democracy - you name it, he has made very clear that he despises it. He has been linked in a series of judgements to extremists, and in their recent judgement to deport him back to Jordan the Law Lords made clear that if he was at liberty to do so, he would cause harm to our nation.


So why, then, is he still here, having cost taxpayers £1.5 million is benefits, legal fees and prison costs since his arrival, and cashing in compensation cheques from the taxpayer despite rulings by the Law Lords that he should be slung out of the country?


The answer is that our legal system has been hamstrung. The introduction of the bungling, unclear and absurd Human Rights Act meant that Qatada's lawyers have effectively been able to keep him in this country for years by arguing that the British people's sovereign right to expel people who hate them and wish to see Britain destroyed comes second to the right of preachers of hatred to be protected from their own countrymen.


This Human Rights Act fiasco meant that we had lost the legal right to decide which foreign individuals can and cannot remain in our country. The Government which placed this bind on our laws was then faced with the question of what to do with Qatada and his ilk, who clearly remained a threat. Any right minded person would have recognised that the Human Rights Act was deeply flawed and repealed it, allowing us to get on with the job of getting rid of him. This Government, though, decided it was preferable to alter the fundamental principles of the law and intern Qatada without trial.


That was what has led to this compensation claim, backed by the European Court of Human Rights, which has power over British law. Of course, if Qatada really objected to his internment he could have simply upped sticks and left the country - he was free to do that at any time - but why bother when you've got a free meal ticket, a public platform for your hateful views and yet more opportunities to milk the British taxpayer that you hate so much for all they are worth?


His deportation order by the Law Lords will now be appealed, inevitably at our expense, to the European Court, meaning he will certainly remain here, living off the British taxpayer, for several more years at least. If he wins in the ECHR - and in that Cloud Cuckoo Land almost all things are possible - he could be here for the foreseeable future, using our money to pour poison into the ear of the nation.


This is a shocking case about a shocking man. Qatada is a hateful, evil piece of work, but without the ridiculous behaviour of our politicians in crippling our laws and handing power over to the European Court of Human Rights, he would have been out on his ear years ago.


Jacqui Smith has been cheering on rulings in favour of his deportation, and criticising Human Rights verdicts that support Qatada, but it is base hypocrisy. The Government could repeal the Human Rights Act, ditch the European Convention that underlies it and tell the Court to take a running jump, which would genuinely solve the problem and make our laws meaningful again, but for reasons of misguided ideology and euro-enthusiasm, they won't. Until some politician has the guts to do so, they are as much to blame for this farce as Qatada is.

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