Omnishables: How Theresa May could have avoided the Qatada fiasco


by Septicisle    
9:02 am - April 20th 2012

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Omnishambles. The more time that goes by, the more I’m convinced that The Thick of It is the best comedy of 00s.

The great irony is that even as the language of the show is apparently being used in Number 10 to describe the budget fiasco of their own making, the show itself didn’t manage to come up with something as farcical as the latest twist in the Abu Qatada saga.

In truth, the last minute appeal by Qatada’s canny lawyers to the ECHR’s grand chamber shouldn’t really make any difference.

It was going to take months if not another year or more for his deportation to take place as he would have almost certainly appealed to the ECHR again anyway.

If rather than appearing completely triumphalist on Tuesday she had instead made clear that this was simply the next stage but that the end was in sight, the whole thing would not have blown up in her face as completely as it has.

Instead it just feeds wholly into the narrative of how this government currently can’t do anything right, that like Nicola Murray, from bean to cup, they fuck up.

Theresa May could have ‘short-circuited’ the process by declaring an attempt by Qatada to quash the original deportation order as clearly unfounded. Any further appeal to the ECHR would then apparently have to be conducted from Jordan. While it’s still dubious this could have all been accomplished in 10 days, Qatada may well have been gone within “a few short weeks” rather than months.

The grand chamber might well rule that Qatada’s appeal was out of time, or alternatively dismiss it as there is no danger that he personally will be tortured in Jordan, as the court ruled.

This though will take at least at least a couple of months, or potentially if it does decide to hear it much longer. In the meantime, Mitting may well decide that while the process rumbles along Qatada can be safely bailed again.

Having all but waved him goodbye, Qatada is left once again having the last laugh.

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About the author
'Septicisle' is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He mostly blogs, poorly, over at Septicisle.info on politics and general media mendacity.
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Reader comments


If rather than appearing completely triumphalist on Tuesday she had instead made clear that this was simply the next stage but that the end was in sight, the whole thing would not have blown up in her face as completely as it has.

Exactly.

But apparently it’s all Judge Johnny Foreigner’s fault.

I try to avoid it, but stumbled upon post-match commentary of this week’s PMQ’s the other day.

In one of the clips, Ed started with a list of recent government cock-ups (which made his “question” ridiculously long-winded), which Dave countered with a (shorter) list of Labour mishaps.

It would be nice if, a) Dave were to leave his Sneer-O-Matic at home, and b) if the government could spend some time pondering why they make so many basic mistakes. This has been the norm for years, and probably for the same reasons. Too many advisors spoiling the broth? Bloody kids.

This has been the norm for years, and probably for the same reasons. Too many advisors spoiling the broth? Bloody kids.

By all accounts the Qatada stuff-up appears to have been the fault of GLS lawyers not getting their dates right (by not reading the European Directive on calculating time limits…). Pin this one on the civil servants, rather than the SpAds. Although, obviously, it’s the Home Secretary’s ultimate responsibility.

4. the a&e charge nurse

[3] “By all accounts the Qatada stuff-up appears to have been the fault of GLS lawyers not getting their dates right (by not reading the European Directive on calculating time limits…)” – let’s face it, Tim – life is too short, even the lawyers find the interminable nature of this case boring?

As far as I’m concerned AQ could now walk into an orphanage loaded down with high grade explosives yet there would still be a reason why his lawyers could make a case to the ECHR to block deportation.

Can’t we just leave him to claim benefits in perpetuity while we all get on with our lives?

5. Chaise Guevara

@ 3 TimJ

“Although, obviously, it’s the Home Secretary’s ultimate responsibility.”

She hasn’t exactly helped herself by just denying the facts, either (an early response by her was along the lines of “No he will be deported because he HAS missed the appeal window, shut up, yes he has”). Aside from how weak that is, it plays into the impression that the government think they can ignore the rules.

As far as I’m concerned AQ could now walk into an orphanage loaded down with high grade explosives yet there would still be a reason why his lawyers could make a case to the ECHR to block deportation.

We’d put him in prison for murdering orphaned kids (any kittens involved as well?) before deporting him, no?

Can’t we just leave him to claim benefits in perpetuity while we all get on with our lives?

The process does seem to take too long a time but it’s not in itself wrong; the outrage is manufactured and we have people seriously suggesting that a politician should be free to point the finger and have someone punished or deported, regardless of any rules.

She hasn’t exactly helped herself by just denying the facts, either (an early response by her was along the lines of “No he will be deported because he HAS missed the appeal window, shut up, yes he has”).

She’ll have been going on the advice given her by her lawyers. Let’s face it, as the charge nurse says, the minutiae of time limits are pretty dull (although, further evidence of the superiority of English law. Our time limits are given in “days”, which are at least certain, rather than “months” which is, as we have seen, ambiguous).

8. the a&e charge nurse

[6] “We’d put him in prison for murdering orphaned kids” – don’t be silly, any clever lawyer could easily argue that AQ was merely undertaking a practical assignment in basic chemistry, and that the poor old jew/gay hating cleric had lost his bearings on his way to the dole office!

The fact he had thousand stuffed in an envelope marked, ‘Chechen rebels’ is neither here nor there?

Thank you for posting this.

Her crime seems to be jumping the gun on the announcement and the arrest.
Had she not done this he would still have appealed and we would be in the same position we are now, is that right?

10. So Much For Subtlety

6. ukliberty

The process does seem to take too long a time but it’s not in itself wrong;

Says the lawyer. Yes it is. Justice delayed is justice denied. And justice has been delayed so very long. All the while lawyers like you have been charging us a fortune and they have not even been that competent. Well the one’s hired by our government to defend our interests at any rate. I assume the one’s we paid for him to hire to work against our interests are fairly competent. But the clock ticks by and we put some Upper Middle Class children through Harrow.

the outrage is manufactured and we have people seriously suggesting that a politician should be free to point the finger and have someone punished or deported, regardless of any rules.

The outrage is not manufactured. The fact that we cannot do what is plainly right, what is just and what is in the interests of 99.9% of the British population because of some poorly drafted, idiotically conceived, criminally interpreted law is an outrage. We know how this is going to end. He will be deported. But not before we have wasted millions.

There is a massive middle ground between a politician having the right to finger someone for deportation and the farcical situation we have now. Not that I have the slightest problem with a politician having the right to deport a non-British citizen, or someone who obtained his citizenship fraudulently, with a single flourish of her pen. It should be enough that he has one degree of appeal or that no appeal to the European Courts is allowed at all. The entire human rights industry cannot be trusted and needs to be abolished. All it does it fatten lawyers, endanger the rest of us and cost a fortune.

A&E,

[6] “We’d put him in prison for murdering orphaned kids” – don’t be silly, any clever lawyer could easily argue that AQ was merely undertaking a practical assignment in basic chemistry, and that the poor old jew/gay hating cleric had lost his bearings on his way to the dole office!

Obviously, that’s nonsense – I’m sure you know that, and are just being facetious.

The fact he had thousand stuffed in an envelope marked, ‘Chechen rebels’ is neither here nor there?

Then charge him for it. If he has committed a crime here, charge him for it. Why don’t we?

This case has been dragging on for years not just because of Judge Johnny Foreigner but also because of the way our own authorities have handled it.

SMFS,

Says the lawyer. Yes it is. Justice delayed is justice denied. And justice has been delayed so very long. All the while lawyers like you have been charging us a fortune and they have not even been that competent.

I’m not a lawyer. Not sure why you make things up like that.

The outrage is not manufactured.

It is – it is what sells papers, after all. The Daily Mail, Sun, Telegraph and the rest all say, “oh look how awful it is that someone is trying to use the avenues open to him to avoid something he doesn’t want to happen, look how terrible Judge Johnny Foreigner is, why don’t we ignore domestic and international law, why can’t we do what the French and Italians do oh woe, we’re all in danger…”

There is a massive middle ground between a politician having the right to finger someone for deportation and the farcical situation we have now.

Of course there is a middle-ground, but it isn’t being looked at by the outraged. They are saying, “look at France, look at Italy, where a politican can point the finger and have someone carted away, why can’t we do that?” We can’t have a discussion about the middle ground, we can only argue about the extremes – there is no nuanced debate. As you yourself daily demonstrate on this very blog, and will undoubtedly demonstrate in this very thread.

13. the a&e charge nurse

[11] “Then charge him for it. If he has committed a crime here, charge him for it. Why don’t we?” – you know as well as I do, UKL, that there is no crime against possessing an envelope stuffed with cash, even if it is marked ‘Chechen rebels’ (unless it could be demonstrated that AQ was fiddling the benefits he has claimed down the years).

Film of the uses and abuses of human rights legislation here – interesting dilemma from 27:00 onwards
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSSQ-Ld3qww

Septicisle:

The great irony is that even as the language of the show is apparently being used in Number 10 to describe the budget fiasco of their own making, the show itself didn’t manage to come up with something as farcical as the latest twist in the Abu Qatada saga.

You obviously missed the episode about the release of government data ‘up to’ the last quarter, where the whole argument hinges on whether ‘up to’ meant ‘including’ the last quarter as well.

May did the equivalent of saying ‘we know where Bin Laden is, so he’s as good as dead’ only to find out he’s doing a press conference on Fox News at 6pm.

A&E,

[11] “Then charge him for it. If he has committed a crime here, charge him for it. Why don’t we?” – you know as well as I do, UKL, that there is no crime against possessing an envelope stuffed with cash, even if it is marked ‘Chechen rebels’ (unless it could be demonstrated that AQ was fiddling the benefits he has claimed down the years).

In fact, funding proscribed groups is a crime – but perhaps this law came in too late to catch him, or that group wasn’t on the list of proscribed groups. I can’t see mention of Chechnya or related terms on the list:

http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/counter-terrorism/proscribed-terror-groups/proscribed-groups?view=Binary

In terms of principle, if a person’s action isn’t a crime, how on earth can we be justified in punishing him for it?

Film of the uses and abuses of human rights legislation here – interesting dilemma from 27:00 onwards
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSSQ-Ld3qww

Yes, I saw Neill’s programme when it was first released and thought it was rather unbalanced. And with (genuine) respect to Jasvinder Singhera, she doesn’t seem to understand. The Supreme Court did consider “the victims” of forced marriages, for example.

http://www.supremecourt.gov.uk/docs/UKSC_2011_0022_Judgment.pdf

But the Court also pointed out that people who are in unforced marriages – a few of whom brought this case – are victims of the policy. And the government has to be able to justify such interference – which, ultimately, it was unable to do to the court’s satisfaction.

As I understand the decision (absent Lord Brown’s dissent), it boils down to something common to human rights decisions: we must not apply blanket, indiscriminate, unthinking policies.

None of the judges said, “I disagree in principle with the policy” or “I disagree it should ever be applied”. They said, you haven’t justified its application to these specific people before us today.

Wrt balance, we didn’t hear from the victims of the policy on Neill’s programme. We didn’t hear from Southall Black Sisters, who claimed that “it does not in reality protect victims from forced marriage, but simply increases pressure on them to remain within an abusive situation, and discriminates against migrant communities”. We didn’t hear from the CPS representative who had mixed views.

In any case, I’m not sure of the pertinence of forced marriages to Abu Qatada. The fact is that many ordinary, law-abiding people are grateful for human rights legislation.

16. Robin Levett

@TimJ #7:

Let’s face it, as the charge nurse says, the minutiae of time limits are pretty dull (although, further evidence of the superiority of English law. Our time limits are given in “days”, which are at least certain, rather than “months” which is, as we have seen, ambiguous).

Actually, the problem here is not “days” or “months” (neither of which are in context ambiguous), but “within…from”.

This was a first year trainee mistake – if there are time limits applying to you, you make sure you act before the first possible date on which they might expire; if they apply to the opponent, you wait until all possible variations expire before acting.

@cjcjc #9:

Her crime seems to be jumping the gun on the announcement and the arrest.
Had she not done this he would still have appealed and we would be in the same position we are now, is that right

I’m not so sure. Had he intended to seek referral to the Grand Chamber willy-nilly, ISTM that his lawyers would have lodged the request with more than 2 hours left on their understanding of the time limit – see above. If they’re wrong on that understanding, they’ll ultimately be the ones caught with their metaphorical trousers round their ankles.

Actually, the problem here is not “days” or “months” (neither of which are in context ambiguous), but “within…from”.

Shall we go with “sufficiently ambiguous that GLS lawyers got it wrong”? And while I’d like to agree that it’s a first year trainee error, I’ve seen far too many time limits missed accidentally (or very nearly missed) to be that sanguine. Last one was by a senior partner…

18. the a&e charge nurse

[15] “In any case, I’m not sure of the pertinence of forced marriages to Abu Qatada” – the issue is one of imbalance once ‘human rights’ conflict (see some of the other cases highlighted in the film) – a balance that, in some peoples minds has swung too far, thus undermining the credibility of the entire concept – the AQ case is a symptom of this malaise.

The court in europe has taken the view that the ‘human right’ to family life even when it includes the risk of young women facing undue cultural pressure, trumps the scandal of forced marriage and honour-based violence – at least that what the likes of organisations like Karmanirvana seem to be claiming.
http://www.karmanirvana.org.uk/component/content/article/30-what-is/73-forced-marriage.html

9 cjcjc: Not according to Justice Mitting. If May had waited until Wednesday and Qatada’s lawyers hadn’t appealed to the grand chamber, then according to him the whole process could have been “short-circuited” and would have taken a few weeks rather than months, with Qatada supposedly having to make an appeal to the ECHR from Jordan. Whether that’s accurate or not I really can’t say, but that’s what Mitting’s SIAC ruling seems to imply. I still think it would have taken months, but either way May and the civil servants at the Home Office look like they’ve gone off half cocked.

14 redpesto: Argh, I did see that episode and it completely slipped my mind. Even that though isn’t quite as insane or is at least far easier done than getting your days wrong.

A&E,

The court in europe has taken the view that the ‘human right’ to family life even when it includes the risk of young women facing undue cultural pressure, trumps the scandal of forced marriage and honour-based violence – at least that what the likes of organisations like Karmanirvana seem to be claiming.
http://www.karmanirvana.org.uk/component/content/article/30-what-is/73-forced-marriage.html

That page doesn’t mention the courts or the right to family life.

And it it was our Supreme Court that Singhera complained about in the Neill programme, not “the court in europe”.

You, Neill, Singhera all seem to be missing the point: no-one said we shouldn’t stop forced marriages, indeed everyone agreed we should try to stop them (except people who want to force marriage, obv.); the Court said that if you’re going to have a policy that aims to stop forced marriages, and we should have such a policy, you’d better be wary of applying it to marriages that are unforced, you’ve got to be able to justify interfering with someone’s civil liberties.

The Home Secretary was telling these people in unforced marriages, “I don’t have any discretion, and you don’t have the right to appeal”.

You talk about the victims of forced marriage but not the victims of the policy intended to deter it. We did not hear from them in Neill’s programme, did we?

Here is the Supreme Court, again:

The only conclusion soundly available on the evidence before the court – not challenged by the Secretary of State save in relation to the emotive word “exile” – is, in the words of Sedley LJ in the Court of Appeal, that “rule 277 is predictably keeping a very substantial majority of bona fide young couples either apart or in exile” and that it has a “drastic effect… on thousands of young adults who have entered into bona fide marriages”. As the Secretary of State acknowledges, the amendment is, in the words of Gross LJ, “a blunt instrument”.

Thousands of victims of rule 277.

And Neill gets it wrong when he says the courts can overrule Parliament, too. In the case referred to, they overruled the Home Secretary in two specific cases. Please do not cite Neill or his programme as some authority on this.

22. the a&e charge nurse

[21] “You talk about the victims of forced marriage but not the victims of the policy intended to deter it” – and that is the problem in a nutshell – irreconcilable conflicts that the human rights act has no prospect of resolving.

You are right to point out that the Karmanirvana site does not refer specifically to any court rulings but the activity of such organisations was meant to be placed in the context of the comments made by Singhera in the BBC film, as well as those by made Andrew Neil (when discussing the fate of women who had been subject to forced marriage).
I stand corrected on the court that made the actual pronouncement – it is not easy keeping up with the various strata of judges who decide such matters.

The broader point is that it was the human rights act that was used to shoot Singhera’s changes down – hooray, some might think we now have the freedom to go back to marrying marrying off vulnerable 16 year olds, after all their right to protection should not trump an older man’s right to an arranged marriage, sorry, I meant family life?

A&E,

… the AQ case is a symptom of this malaise.

Yes, let’s just skip over the decision not to prosecute him for his alleged crimes.

“”The appellant was heavily involved, indeed was at the centre in the United Kingdom of terrorist activities associated with al-Qaeda.”

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3562695.stm

It’s all them foreign judges to blame!

FFS.

A&E,

[21] “You talk about the victims of forced marriage but not the victims of the policy intended to deter it” – and that is the problem in a nutshell – irreconcilable conflicts that the human rights act has no prospect of resolving.

Eh?

It’s self-evidently correct that an authority should have to justify its interference with someone’s civil liberties (and this is what the law says). If you disagree with this principle, I don’t know what to say – you’re just wrong.

Everyone agrees forced marriages should be stopped. The disagreement came over whether a good way of doing that was to interfere with unforced marriages as well. I just don’t understand the problem you’re having with this concept. I’m happy to interfere with forced marriages but not happy to intefere with unforced marriages. What on earth is wrong with that position? Where is the ‘legitimate conflict’, for want of a better phrase?

The broader point is that it was the human rights act that was used to shoot Singhera’s changes down – hooray, some might think we now have the freedom to go back to marrying marrying off vulnerable 16 year olds, after all their right to protection should not trump an older man’s right to an arranged marriage, sorry, I meant family life?

Um, everyone agrees forced marriages are wrong, as I said. The decision didn’t shoot down Singhera’s changes in the general case.

The judgement, again:

http://www.supremecourt.gov.uk/docs/UKSC_2011_0022_Judgment.pdf

Try reading it.

25. the a&e charge nurse

[23] “Yes, let’s just skip over the decision not to prosecute him for his alleged crimes”, err, he has been prosecuted ……. and found guilty.

26. the a&e charge nurse

[24] “The disagreement came over whether a good way of doing that was to interfere with unforced marriages as well” – yes, a disagreement with diametrically opposing viewpoints.

Please stop referring to the judgements – we are not debating the content of the judgements per se, rather the ideas that drive the way in which such judgements are arrived at – surely you can see there is a difference?

A=N: ‘Can’t we just leave him to claim benefits in perpetuity while we all get on with our lives?’

Force him to go through the usual claimant’s run of applications, appeals and tribunals, and he’ll soon leg it.

28. So Much For Subtlety

12. ukliberty

I’m not a lawyer. Not sure why you make things up like that.

I doubt it but it is besides the point – Justice delayed remains justice denied.

It is – it is what sells papers, after all. The Daily Mail, Sun, Telegraph and the rest all say, “oh look how awful it is that someone is trying to use the avenues open to him to avoid something he doesn’t want to happen, look how terrible Judge Johnny Foreigner is, why don’t we ignore domestic and international law, why can’t we do what the French and Italians do oh woe, we’re all in danger…”

So your argument, if I can dignify it with that term, is that because people are so concerned about this issue they buy newspapers that refer to it, this is proof that people don’t really care? Amazing. The Daily Mail et al follow public concern. It is not a manufactured issue. It is something British people care about.

The issue is not ignoring domestic law for once. Domestic law has repeatedly allowed the government to do what the British voter wants. The problem is that the European Courts do not. Yes, we are suffering because of Judge Johnnie Foreigner – which is especially galling when the European Courts do not stop the French, for instance, stripping French nationals of their citizenship and deporting them to places like Algeria. Somehow their Courts are not so stupid as ours.

Of course there is a middle-ground, but it isn’t being looked at by the outraged.

Nor is it by you. It was you who said the only alternative to this shambles is to allow the government to deport whomever it wanted. The exclusion is your doing. If you don’t want to consider it, at least accept it exists.

Naturally, no self respecting Brit balks at the fact that the person in question has been charged with no crime, has stood no trial, and yet has spent the past seven years in prison without even being informed of the evidence against him. British justice presumes to act without any such tiresome procedures, where foreigners who have attracted the hatred of the lynchmob are concerned. Now there’s something to be proud of. And should such “justice” begin to be applied to other people out of favour with the ravening hounds of the gutter press, of course Brits will be cheering on the pack then as well. Who needs the rule of law, due process and the proving of guilt when the brute instinct of the mob is concerned? Oh – it was May who was attempting to be “canny”, apparently withholding as she did to the very last moment the revelation that the Jordanians had come to an agreement with the British government (both such upstanding role models of truthfulness and integrity, after all). Evidently it was mistiming this announcement that allowed the lawyers to get in their appeal, just in time.

30. Just Visiting

Briar

> person in question has been charged with no crime, has stood no trial,

You are 100% wrong aren’t you – he was charged and sentenced in Jordan, wasn’t he?

SMFS,

I’m not a lawyer. Not sure why you make things up like that.

I doubt it

How odd.

So your argument, if I can dignify it with that term, is that because people are so concerned about this issue they buy newspapers that refer to it, this is proof that people don’t really care? … It was you who said the only alternative to this shambles is to allow the government to deport whomever it wanted.

We can’t have a reasonable discussion if you insist on lying about me and what I’ve said.

A&E,

[24] “The disagreement came over whether a good way of doing that was to interfere with unforced marriages as well” – yes, a disagreement with diametrically opposing viewpoints.

Please stop referring to the judgements – we are not debating the content of the judgements per se, rather the ideas that drive the way in which such judgements are arrived at – surely you can see there is a difference?

The judgement spells out the reasoning behind the outcome. You take an unbalanced programme by Andrew Neil of all people at face value, but you refuse to read a judgement pertinent to what you yourself introduced to the thread @13?

The decision boils down to this: the authority is required to justify its interference with someone’s liberty. That is the principle behind these decisions. Do you support that general principle?

33. the a&e charge nurse

[32] UKL, the Neil film was a window, no more and no less – the issue of human rights is obviously too big to be covered in 1hour of telly – those interested in the debate can pursue some of the binds raised by Neil (if interested).

I still disagree slightly about the judgements shedding light on the wider debate. Decisions taken by judges simply reflect the law as it stands – the concern raised in the AQ case, is some feel that the law itself has become the end point rather than an instrument to deliver justice?

I do not dispute that the strata of courts, and appeals employed by AQ are all perfectly legal – as I said upthread, perhaps the time has come to leave him alone in order that he might continue his existence at the expense of the british taxpayer.

Surely this is the lesser of the two evils compared to casting aspersions on the ideals set out by Churchill, et al when the need for universal human rights were first formulated – as a matter of interest I wonder what the cigar chomping tory (Churchill, not Thatcher) would make of AQ’s situation?
http://farm1.staticflickr.com/68/167805456_11dfa49d27_z.jpg?zz=1

A&E,

UKL, the Neil film was a window, no more and no less – the issue of human rights is obviously too big to be covered in 1hour of telly – those interested in the debate can pursue some of the binds raised by Neil (if interested).

The “one hour of telly” excuse is pretty poor. If you can’t make a decent programme in one hour, then either lengthen the programme or change its scope – focus on a couple of things instead of pretending to look at everything.

And “one hour of telly” certainly doesn’t justify or excuse false statements of fact.

The problem must be obvious. For example, Neil says something like, “the judges overruled Parliament” – even though judges can’t do that – and an ‘expert’ (e.g. Singhera) agrees. So now the viewer thinks, those bloody judges, overruling Parliament! Which didn’t and can’t happen. And the expert says, “I wonder who’s running the country!” and Neil agrees, and the viewer thinks, yeah, what the hell is going on here, those bloody judges overruling our MPs..

I mean, the viewer might be outraged if we heard instead that the Supreme Court ruled against the Home Secretary on appeal against the Court of Appeal’s decision that two particular couples must be given marriage visas, but at least he’d be outraged about something that actually happened and we can argue about it.

You say “those interested in the debate can pursue some of the binds raised by Neil”, but you appear interested in the forced marriage bit and you haven’t looked at the pertinent judgement; you probably haven’t looked at the legislation or Immigration Rules either. I suspect a fraction of a percent made an effort to look into it. Why would they? Singhera is an expert, Neil is a distinguished TV presenter, and the programme is on the BBC. Why would the viewer research whether the Supreme Court can in fact overrule Parliament?

– the concern raised in the AQ case, is some feel that the law itself has become the end point rather than an instrument to deliver justice?

I had no idea that was the concern; I thought it was about a terrorist in our midst and he is going to make things explode if we don’t get rid of him sharpish.

35. the a&e charge nurse

[34] “you probably haven’t looked at the legislation or Immigration Rules either – not in any detail, no.
Mind you the lawyers representing the government either didn’t look at the rules themselves, or did look but still failed to fully understand the appeal timeframe (see 3).

Your final point is churlish – justice and not being blown up by religious extremists are not mutually exclusive concepts, neither does the law guarantee justice in the purist sense of the word.

Justice remains an aspiration – while the law adheres to a set rules – there is a distinction between the two.

Once we strip away the minutiae, the AQ case comes down to a balance between his rights to legal perfection vs everybody else’s rights not to be harmed (given that AQ is said to be a proponents of violence).
A British court previously ruled it was safe to return him to Jordan yet others remain dissatisfied with the ability of such forums to make a reliable judgement and hence insist on further layers of arbitration – as I say, I wonder Churchill would have made of it all in the wake of WW2.

A&E,

Your final point is churlish – justice and not being blown up by religious extremists are not mutually exclusive concepts, neither does the law guarantee justice in the purist sense of the word.

Justice remains an aspiration – while the law adheres to a set rules – there is a distinction between the two.

Once we strip away the minutiae, the AQ case comes down to a balance between his rights to legal perfection vs everybody else’s rights not to be harmed (given that AQ is said to be a proponents of violence).

AFAICS, no-one pretends “legal perfection” can be attained or that there is any “right to legal perfection”, this is your invention.

A British court previously ruled it was safe to return him to Jordan yet others remain dissatisfied with the ability of such forums to make a reliable judgement and hence insist on further layers of arbitration – as I say, I wonder Churchill would have made of it all in the wake of WW2.

I haven’t heard anyone express dissatisfaction with the ability of our domestic courts to make “reliable judgements”… except of course when they make judgements that people disagree with.

The fact is that we have laws and international agreements (and judgements) we ostensibly abide by, so for now the European Court is the last stop and its decision final (unless appealed or situation changes) – it isn’t a matter of dissatisfaction.

And that’s a fundamental issue here: whether we (A) disregard laws and judgements when expedient or (B) abide by them and change things we are dissatisfied with to avoid future disappointment. Some people – including MPs – are seriously suggesting option A. I believe B is the right course.

FWIW I wouldn’t be at all bothered if tomorrow our Supreme Court became the final court of appeal and on balance I think I’d prefer it.

I trust we would no longer hear complaints about unelected judges over-ruling our beloved, trustworthy politicans. (this sentence is sarcasm.)

37. the a&e charge nurse

[36] “And that’s a fundamental issue here: whether we (A) disregard laws and judgements when expedient or (B) abide by them and change things we are dissatisfied with to avoid future disappointment” – yes, I actually agree with you that we should guard against expedience (even if the price includes things like the AQ bind), or put another way I trust the politicos far less than I trust the judges.

Ultimately, I am not saying that our legal system is wrong, but it is not perfect either – it certainly doesn’t prevent people from being unhappy about the way the dice roll in certain cases.

My views on this matter were affected by events during 7/7 – some terrible injuries, and worse on that awful day.
Personally I find it difficult to accept that we should be instrumental in contributing to a similar episode, however inadvertently, by providing succor to those who are allegedly able to orchestrate extreme violence.

My views on this matter were affected by events during 7/7 – some terrible injuries, and worse on that awful day.
Personally I find it difficult to accept that we should be instrumental in contributing to a similar episode, however inadvertently, by providing succor to those who are allegedly able to orchestrate extreme violence.

What we do or don’t do changes the risk of terrorism. But ultimately the responsibility lies with the perpetrators – they are the ones with agency. I’m sure you agree there is no means of completely mitigating the risk of terrorism; all crime is a risk of living in a ‘free’ society. Even places that MPs and newspapers would have us copy – e.g. France – suffer terrorism. Even places we say are ‘unfree’ – e.g. Saudi Arabia – suffer terrorism.

I do think Qatada’s history in the UK is pertinent here. Please bear with me.

He was recognised as a refugee in 1994. Our authorities say that since at least 1995 he encouraged terrorism. In 1996 he said it was acceptable to fight Jews in the UK. Until 1996 he was spiritual advisor to Algerian terrorists and one organisation’s UK representative – in their newsletter he praised suicide operations. In 1997 it was reported he was actively recruiting for Afghanistan terrorist training camps. In 1998 he said it was acceptable to break Western laws, steal and cheat kaffirs and “take their women for sex or sale”. He was in “close contact” with Bin Laden’s representative in the UK in 1998, when it was also reported that he had received funding directly from Bin Laden.

His trial in absentia in Jordan was in 1999.

So ISTM we could have started the deportation process years sooner. We would still have the argument about the likelihood of being tortured in Jordan but the European Court believes Jordan’s assurance about this today so it’s conceivable they would have believed the same assurance back then. If the deportation process had started before his trial in 1999 he would not have won on the same grounds that he won in January this year because the trial had not happened yet (he would not have know about the witnesses they would use).

Not that it helps us with the situation today – we do not have time machines – just that I think it’s worth thinking about: for whatever reason, we did not start the deportation sooner and so here we are today. Are lives more or less at risk? Is the rule of law at risk?

And another thing…
Just on the lives at risk point because you make a point about being inadvertently instrumental in contributing to another tragedy. MI5 said that Qatada’s opinion of the UK “hardened” after he was detained without charge under the Anti-terrorism Crime and Security Act (well, I’d be surprised if it put a smile on his face). I am not saying it was the right or wrong decision to detain him – I am just pointing out that such decisions can also increase the risk of terrorism.

But the responsibility for terrorism lies with the terrorists.


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