Abu Qatada detention will continue through Olympics

Mohammed Othman v Secretary of State for the Home Department, 28 May 2012 – read judgment

This was a further application for bail to the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC) after the appellant had failed in his application to the Grand Chamber of the Strasbourg Court earlier this month, but had launched an appeal to be heard by SIAC, against the Home Secretary’s refusal to revoke his deportation order.

Angus McCullough QC appeared for Abu Qatada as his Special Advocate in these proceedings before SIAC. He is not the author of this post.

A full hearing will take place in October. Until then, bail has been refused and Abu Qatada will remain in detention.

Given the evidence before him, Mitting J had to base his judgment on the assumption that the Secretary of State would not have maintained the deportation order unless convinced that she was in possession of material which could support her resistance to the appellant’s appeal and which could satisfy “the cogently expressed reservations of the Strasbourg Court about the fairness of the retrial”which the appellant would face in Jordan.

Two consequences flowed from these developments, according to the judge. One is that SIAC’s final decision in October is likely to put an end to this litigation. The second is that the risk of Qatada absconding has increased, if he assumes, in the light of the expressed determination of the Secretary of State, that he would not avoid deportation to Jordan by litigation in and from the United Kingdom. Mitting J also took in to account a factor which led him to refuse bail in April, which is that

others who claim to champion his cause, but who are themselves sinister players in global affairs, have expressed themselves vehemently in such a manner as to give rise to the concern, which I have, that they may lend him effective support to abscond.

In the light of this, he was satisfied that managing the risk posed by the appellant, should he be granted liberty, would be “extremely problematic”, particularly during the period of preparation for the Olympics, which is already under way, when there will be a “high level of demand on those resources”. The time and resources of the police and security services are not limited, and their objective is to protect the United Kingdom and its inhabitants and visitors.

If the appellant were to abscond, then either the resources which should be devoted to those ends would have to be diverted to finding him or finding him would be afforded a lower priority than should be the case.

In those circumstances, Mitting J was satisfied both that it was lawful and that continued detention was both necessary and proportionate.

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One thought on “Abu Qatada detention will continue through Olympics

  1. To keep someone in jail because of a sports event and because of the government’s decision to devote almost all police resources to this sports event, sounds dangerous to me: http://andreasmoser.wordpress.com/2012/05/29/london-olympics-vs-human-rights/ In future, governments could always devote police to something big (sports, musical events, et cetera) and then argue with the lack of police resources. This governmental decision is not Mr Qatada’s fault.

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