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European law experts say May has her dates wrong on Qatada

A professor of European law believes the Home Office has made a mistake with its timing. Photo: Reuters

Law experts attending the High Level Conference on the future of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Brighton believe that the Home Secretary Theresa May and advisers at the Home Office have got their dates wrong.

This conference is attempting to streamline the cumbersome workload of the European Court but those attending have found themselves in the limelight because of the row over Abu Qatada.

Professor Philip Leach - a professor specialising in European Law - says that he believes that the Home Office has made a mistake over its timing. He believes that the 3 month deadline for an appeal expired at midnight on Tuesday; he says that previous case law supports this view.

Professor Leach is confident that a panel of judges at the ECHR will consider the substance of Abu Qatada's appeal, that he might be tortured if returned to Jordan.

He has also thrown doubt on the Home Secretary's claim that the ECHR could still decide to consider the Qatada appeal, even if his legal team had missed deadline.

He agrees with a spokesman for the court who said that the appeal would automatically be dismissed if they had missed the deadline.

In this video, political Editor Tom Bradby and UK Editor Keir Simmons report on Britain's ten-year struggle to get Abu Qatada out of the country:

One final blow for the government came with Professor Leach's assessment that the draft declaration being delivered this afternoon will not help to shift the balance of power.

David Cameron said that Britain would use her chairmanship of the Council of Europe to reign in the powers of the ECHR.

This draft says that decisions made in the courts of nation states would stand unless there was a " serious risk" to an individual's human rights.

But in the opinion of Professor Leach and the president of the ECHR, Sir Nicolas Bratza, this was already the case and will make no difference.

British lawyer Sir Nicolas Bratza became ECHR president in 2011. Credit: Council of Europe Credits

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