Angus McCullough QC is acting as Abu Qatada’s special advocate, having previously appeared in the proceedings before SIAC, the Court of Appeal, and the House of Lords.
In January this year, the European Court of Human Rights held that his deportation would result in a violation of Article 6 on the basis that evidence that would be used by the Jordanian authorities in his retrial may have been obtained through the torture of his co-defendants.
Shortly afterwards, SIAC granted him bail and held that the length of time spent in detention, together with the uncertainty of the UK Government being able to deport him to Jordan following the ECtHR’s decision, were relevant factors in this decision.
On 17 April 2012, bail was then revoked by SIAC following Abu Qatada’s arrest on the same day, on the basis of the Government’s intention to deport him within a matter of days. Disagreement and confusion over the time limit for any appeal against the Strasbourg judgment resulted in Abu Qatada lodging an appeal against the ECtHR’s decision within hours of his re-arrest, and just before (apparently, according to the Court) the time limit for applying to the Grand Chamber had expired.
The Grand Chamber subsequently refused to hear the appeal. This means that the original ECtHR decision is now final. However, the legal battle is likely to continue and the timescale within which deportation may be achieved remains uncertain.
Although found to present a risk to national security, Abu Qatada has never been prosecuted for any crime in this country and the only basis on which he could be lawfully detained is for the purposes of his deportation.