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Britain must 'take steps' to ensure 'human rights laws'

Britain must remove the layers of appeals available to foreigners it wants to deport, the Home Secretary said today, as radical cleric Abu Qatada left the country after a near decade-long battle to get him out of the UK.

After spending at least £1.7 million on trying to eject the terror suspect from its shores, the Home Office finally saw him board a private flight bound for Jordan at RAF Northolt, in west London, at around 2.45am. Theresa May said today:

I am glad that this government's determination to see him on a plane has been vindicated and that we have at last achieved what previous governments, Parliament and the British public have long called for.

This dangerous man has now been removed from our shores to face the courts in his own country.

I am also clear that we need to make sense of our human rights laws and remove the many layers of appeals available to foreign nationals we want to deport. We are taking steps - including through the new Immigration Bill - to put this right.

Theresa May: Qatada deportation 'concludes efforts'

Abu Qatada has left Britain after a near decade-long battle to get him out of the country.

Home Secretary Theresa May said: "Abu Qatada was deported today to his home country of Jordan to face terrorism charges.

"His departure marks the conclusion of efforts to remove him since 2001 and I believe this will be welcomed by the British public."

Home Secretary Theresa May. Credit: Chris Ison/PA Wire

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Key moments in Abu Qatada's deportation battle

Abu Qatada has been described as al Qaeda's spiritual leader in Europe, the most significant extremist preacher in the UK and "a truly dangerous individual".

Since the September 11 attacks, Qatada has challenged and thwarted every attempt by the UK Government to detain and deport him.

Here is a timeline of key events in his long-running battle against deportation.

  • 1993 - September 16 - The Jordanian father of five, real name Omar Mahmoud Mohammed Othman, claims asylum when he arrives in Britain on a forged passport.
  • 1994 - June - He is allowed to stay in Britain.
  • 1999 - April - He is convicted on terror charges and sentenced to life imprisonment.
  • 2001 - December - Qatada becomes one of Britain's most wanted men after going on the run from his home in west London.
  • 2002 - October - He is arrested by police and detained in Belmarsh high-security jail.
  • 2005 - March - Qatada is freed on conditional bail and placed on a control order.
  • 2008 - April - Court of Appeal rules that deporting Qatada would breach his human rights.
  • 2009 - February 18 - Qatada can be deported to Jordan to face a retrial on the terror charges.
  • 2013 - June 18 - It is confirmed the King of Jordan has approved the mutual assistance treaty with the UK.

Abu Qatada deportation to Jordan expected imminently

Abu Qatada is expected to be flown from Britain to Jordan in the early hours of Sunday morning, ending a ten year legal battle to have him deported.

The radical Muslim cleric, described as Osama Bin Laden's spiritual leader in Europe, is wanted in his home country on terror charges.

ITV News Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen reports.

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