The Home Secretary Theresa May has insisted that Abu Qatada will be deported, despite his last minute appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
She said he had no case for appeal, as the Government had abided by the terms set out by the ECHR earlier in the year and had firm assurances from the government of Jordan that he would not be subject to torture or mistreatment.
Earlier in the year the ECHR stipulated that in order to deport Qatada to Jordan the Government had to make sure he would be subjected to a fair trial, and that no evidence obtained from torture would be used against him.
The Home Secretary was called to parliament to explain the "confusion" over the deportation. She said:
The Home Secretary insisted that the appeal by the lawyers of Abu Qatada was made after the deadline to do so expired. May insisted that the deadline expired at midnight on Monday, but did admit the court had no automatic way of rejecting his appeal for this reason. She said:
In a series of heated exchanges across the house, shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said the whole incident was a "farce" and that the government should not have allowed the "legal loophole" to emerge.
The Speaker of the House of Commons had to appeal for order several times during the exchange.
May was adamant that she did not get her days or dates confused, but that the lawyers of Qatada were simply using the appeal as another delaying tactic. She said:
May acknowledged that the court could find that the deadline was midnight on Tuesday, as Qatada's lawyers argued, and admitted that the five judges from the panel of the Grand Chamber of the ECHR are the only ones with the final say.
She said the deportation is likely to take many more months, but insisted it would go ahead and in the meantime the government would continue to build its case.