Angus McCullough QC has been acting as Abu Qatada’s special advocate (leading Martin Chamberlain of Brick Court Chambers), having previously appeared in the proceedings before SIAC (Special Immigration Appeals Commission), the Court of Appeal, and the House of Lords.
In January this year (2012), the European Court of Human Rights held that the deportation of Abu Qatada would result in a flagrant violation of his rights to a fair trial (under Article 6 of the ECHR) on the basis that evidence that may be used by the Jordanian authorities in his retrial had probably been obtained through the torture of his co-defendants. This prevented his lawful deportation to Jordan. 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 the time limit for applying to the Grand Chamber had expired.
The Grand Chamber subsequently refused to hear the case. This means that the original ECtHR decision is now final. However, the legal battle then resumed in SIAC to determine whether the Home Secretary could now deport Abu Qatada consistently with the Strasbourg decision. On 12 November 2012 SIAC ruled that there was a real risk that evidence obtained by torture would be used in the retrial that Abu Qatada would face on return to Jordan, so preventing his lawful return on the basis of the Strasbourg decision. Permission to appeal was refused by SIAC, but is to be sought by the Home Secretary from the Court of Appeal. Pending the outcome of any appeal bail was granted by SIAC.