Divided opinion on potential ECHR withdrawal over Abu Qatada

Abu Qatada Photo: Press Association

The Home Secretary has said that she has signed a mutual legal assistance treaty with Jordan which contains "fair trial guarantees" to ensure that Abu Qatada can be deported.

When asked if a temporary withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights was a possibility to help facilitate the deportation, Theresa May replied:

We should have all options - including leaving the convention altogether - on the table. The Prime Minister is looking at all the options. That is the only sensible thing to do.

Opinion is divided on the notion of a withdrawal from the convention as a course of action.

Conservative MP Peter Bone says the Government need to consider giving notice to the Council of Europe that the UK intends to leave the Convention in six months time.

Conservative MP Peter Bone

Mr Bone told ITV News: "Clearly it is something they [the government] are going to do. I'm absolutely convinced. It could be done without primary legislation.

"It's a completely legal solution to this problem and it's a very simple process under article 58 of the Convention.

"If May gave six months notice of the intention to come out of the Convention today it would not stop her pursing other courses, but it would mean if they fail in six months time, we could legally come out and deport who we want to if the Supreme Court agreed -subject to our law not the Convention.

"I suggested this a year ago and the position has shifted enormously.

"The sooner the government give that notice the better. We need to start the ball rolling".

"The Home Secretary, Prime Minister and the country want Qatada deported. But we don't want to break international law", he added.

Once the deportation had taken place, Mr Bone said: "We could opt back under article 3 or negotiate with safeguards".

In respect to potential opposition from coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, the MP for Wellingborough said: "The problem may be that this has been vetoed by Clegg and the Liberals. But on this issue they would need to be ignored. If that's what is holding them back they should get on and do it".

Home Secretary Theresa May has vowed to ensure Abu Qatada is deport
Home Secretary Theresa May has vowed to ensure Abu Qatada is deported. Credit: A/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Barrister and former government lawyer, Carl Gardner says that a withdrawal from the European Court on Human Rights would be a "terrible idea" and he believes it has been mentioned for "political reasons than for anything else".

Carl Gardner does not think a withdrawal from the European Court on Human Rights will be necessary.

"It could be done there's no doubt the UK's got the right to withdraw from the treaty. They could denounce it and then six months later we would be released from our obligations.

"It would be a massive step for a country like the UK to do that. It would be withdrawing from the Convention and that would be a disaster basically for European human rights, human rights protection and law around the world".

"We can take the view it would be temporary but it would be the same act as a permanent withdrawal and then we would have to reapply to be taken back in which might be easily granted, but might not and what would it do to the reputation of the UK?

"How could the UK ever look at another country and accuse it of legal manipulation or ignoring human rights standards if we had done something as blatant as that".

But Mr Gardner says he does not think this action will be necessary with the announcement of the new treaty with Jordan today which he believes is a "game changer".

The Home Secretary signing the treaty with the Jordanian Ambassador to the UK Credit: Home Office

"The treaty that has been announced today is a game changer, I think genuinely for the first time Theresa May can now have confidence that she's going to be able to deport Qatada.

"It's probably going to take a long time still and she may not be the Home Secretary that sees him leave the UK. It may be some time in 2015 or after but things have changed today.

"If this treaty is ratified by Jordan and the UK it changes everything and it's quite difficult to see how Qatada could succeed - even in the ECHR - in blocking his deportation under this treaty.

"The guarantees against the use of evidence obtained by torture in it are so strong".

Article 27 of the treaty contains clear guidelines in respect to statements suspected to have been obtained by torture Credit: Home Office