PM and Home Secretary need to stop covering up events leading to last week's Abu Qatada shambles - Yvette Cooper

23 April 2012

Yvette CooperYvette Cooper MP, Labour's Shadow Home Secretary, responding to the Prime Minister's comments about the Qatada fiasco on the Today Programme this morning, said:

"The Prime Minister and Home Secretary need to stop covering up the events leading to last week's Abu Qatada shambles.

"The Prime Minister suggested this morning that the Home Office had checked with the European Court and knew there were differences of opinion over the deadline for appeals in the Qatada case. Why then did they decide to take the risk and act 24 hours early? Who decided that they should? And when was Number 10 informed of the decision and the risks involved?

"It is clearly a serious problem for the Home Office if the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister were given wrong advice or kept in the dark about something with national security implications like this.

"But if Ministers were told there were risks or a difference of view with the courts and they ploughed on regardless, that would be an extremely serious failure of judgement by the Home Secretary.

"As a result of the Home Secretary's decision on Tuesday, Abu Qatada could be out again on the streets, with further delays to his deportation.

"The shambles over pasties, caravans and charities is bad enough. But a shambles over national security is completely unacceptable.

"We need to know the truth to prevent these errors happening again. The Home Secretary is appearing before the Home Affairs Select Committee tomorrow and has the opportunity to come clean, to provide the advice she was given and who knew what and when.

"I hope it can be made clear that there were good reasons for this. Given the efforts that were clearly made to get cameras to film Abu Qatada's arrest and to time his hearing with her statement, the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister need to provide proper evidence that this wasn't just the pursuit of a good news story after weeks of shambolic Budget headlines."