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Abu Qatada & legal aid

Quite right, Valerie Vaz MP. There are questions that must be answered about Abu Qatada’s outrageous legal aid bill of over £500,000. They are, however, more for ministers, largely in your own Labour party, than anyone else.

First, we should be told what legal advice was given to a string of Labour Home Secretaries as they pursued Mr Qatada under, first, the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 and then the Protection of Terrorism Act 2005. In 2001, JUSTICE consulted David Anderson QC, now the special reviewer on terrorism. His advice was that Part 4 of the Act, which allowed the indefinite detention of foreign nationals in certain circumstances, would probably be accepted by the courts in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 but its legality would become increasingly challengeable as time went by. Lo and behold, the House of Lords did eventually come out against Part 4 at  time when it became increasingly illogical to differentiate the treatment of foreign and domestic terrorists after the events of 7/7. Who did the government consult? When? What did they say? Did ministers, scared of looking weak on terrorism, over-ride their advice?

The government not only lost under Part 4, it also lost later battles under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005. This was rushed through Parliament just before an election. The Lords tried to stand up against control orders: many of them even slept in Parliament during an all-night sitting. They got brushed aside.

Jack Straw now says that was unfortunate. Too right, Jack. It was a disaster; cost a lot of compensation; gave rise to a lot of legal aid expenditure – including part of that relating to Abu Qatada.

Having lost on Part 4 and control orders, the government kept digging. They wanted Abu Qatada, by origin a Palestinian born in Bethlehem, sent back to his alleged home state, Jordan. The problem is that, on the torture front, Jordan has been a basket case. Every report on the Middle East from the UN Committee against Terrorism to our Foreign Office accepted in the 1990s that Jordan tortured detainees and suspects along with the other sorry states of the region – most of whose regimes have now deservedly gone into the dustbin of history. More costs as the courts have insisted, outrageously in the eyes of ministers of both major political parties, that the UK does not connive at torture or evidence derived from torture.

Second, let us ask again why, if Abu Qatada is so dangerous, he was never prosecuted. Can it really be that all the evidence against him is from wire taps that the government has banned itself from using? Did he never let slip an incitement to violence en clair that could have been used? Or was there another reason – an attempt to avoid embarrassment?

Because, finally, let us be told whether one reason for the government’s persistence in this case is because, as has been strongly hinted, Abu Qatada was actually an MI6 agent during the 1990s whose inflammatory sermons were accepted because he was ratting on Algerian exiles? He is evidently a much more complicated character than the demon portrayed in the press. He has twice offered to help in the release of hostages in the middle east: Norman Kember, who later stood bail for him, and BBC reporter, Alan Johnston.

Abu Qatada has now served pretty well the equivalent of a 20-year sentence. We, as society, need to be assured that this was appropriate and fair. That is not how it appears right now. And, yes. It is an outrage that we have paid half a million quid for Abu Qatada’s legal costs. It is the price we all have had to pay for the incompetence of government lawyers or intransigence of government ministers. Should we not consider surcharges against those responsible for this sort of expenditure? Particularly when, as Ms Vaz says, ordinary people are facing desperate cuts to legal aid.

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4 Responses to Abu Qatada & legal aid

  1. Pingback: What’s Abu got to do, got to do with it? | a barrister's wife

  2. Daniel Reed Allan Reply

    January 31, 2014 at 6:13 am

    Nothing makes my blood boil than nan like the above got legal aid stayed in country for refuse too avoid capture and get legal fees paid fully for him yet someone like myself whoms trying to get funding for clear cut medical neglect case though legal aid as I one op 6 yrs ago and yet NHS knew I wld need reconstructive ops after because their policy have changed towards reconstructive ops and because near deaths door dispite being actue pain and on opium based med and have additional disabilites to deal with on top of pain I cruelly unessarly should be suffering but I am yet because legal aid has tighten its belt it still helps criminals and yet genuine people uk people like myself was born disabled from birth cannot get any sort of legal representation it’s going to leave many with no faith in uk gov nor legal aid system yet like being above had no right to get that aid and for as long as he did and because Jordan wanted him back it’s only right they refund that scum legal service bills or get him or his family too pay it buy force. In my opinion David cameron clearly only cares about disabled kids and forgets too help disabled adult for example he lets of families with disabled kids off that need a extra room yet disabled adults whom need a extra room for ether personal use or for mobility equipment too able to be charged safely to keep hallways clear etc also maybe to use a tumble drier in due maybe needing change clothes more regularly due too their disability yet I feel cameron is saying in many senses tuff it’s our fault being born this way and we have for the additional despite the additional cost we have pay on top off paying bedroom tax. I admit when I david cameron go into number 10 as pm he would recognise the needs of disabled children and adults more yet how wrong was I because he had a disabled son he would recognise disabled people’s needs more than other cold heartless leaders we had in the past yet he is as cold as past leaders in my opinion. Yet I am sorry his son euan passed away I really am but he’s clearly forgotten how hard life’s are disabled children and adults clearly to me David cameron and nick clegg have failed the British people without any doubt. I also like many feel cheated and betrayed by lib dem’s with the umpteen false promises they made like they would inject more money for independent living homes for disabled people too making sure elderly are better cared across the board and from what I have seen elderly and disabled are being mistreated far more than ever both david cameron and nick clegg should be ashamed of themselves and when they are old people I would love them to get a taste of the neglect us disabled and elderly endure ether now and again when they get old but just I remember I bet they get a free private health insurance and will get top of the range care team so they never ensure what disable children or adult ether endure now and again or everyday as I witness personally myself and others on a daily basis and the day centre I attend its so overcrowded we have lost 10 day centre staff and a day centre manager this week alone I fear our centres will closed down in time due too not having enough staff to cover the support service users need and not having enough staff to meet health safety guidelines too stay open and our day centre is being sold by my local council which then we fear we will be not ever treated fairly more so than we are now and what scares me the most that there will be more accident in our day centres because we can’t be supported safely anymore so will end up at home imprisoned in our homes other being integrated into the community as said by cameron in the last election too me he and nick clegg have most disservice after the iron lady in my opinion and if they can improved things short time they have left to help vulnerable then great but with these two are meant to be leading our country and getting jobs helping disabled elderly students and they are actively not in any shape or form look at that benefits programe there are not just one 2 3 james turner streets there thousands of streets like this and our leaders are failing me and each and everyone of us

  3. Matthews Ryan Bark Reply

    February 20, 2014 at 8:43 am

    Thanks for the great post shared..about “Abu Qatada & legal aid”, really great info shared

  4. Professional Bail Bond Sanford Reply

    February 20, 2014 at 9:33 am

    Thanks “Roger Smith” for the shocking news post shared “Laudrup seeks legal advice after Swansea sacking”

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