Home Secretary should not have taken a risk with national security that could delay Abu Qatada's deportation further - Cooper

24 April 2012

Yvette CooperYvette Cooper MP, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary, commenting after Theresa May's appearance at the Home Affairs Select Committee today, said:

“Abu Qatada should be deported as rapidly as possible and kept in custody in the meantime.

“Yet the Home Secretary's evidence this morning shows she has taken significant risks which may make it harder not easier to deport Abu Qatada and directly contradicts the Prime Minister's claims yesterday.

“The Home Secretary made clear she did not get any assurances from the court that said the deadline was Monday 16 April. Nor did she contact the court on Monday after the Home Office were told by journalists that the European Court was saying the date was Tuesday instead.

“The Home Secretary also admitted that she was "aware of speculation" over the deadline on Monday.

“Why then did she still take the risk and go ahead with the statement?

“Why did she not wait 24 hours so there could be no shadow of a doubt, and so she did not play into the hands of Abu Qatada's lawyers?

“The Home Secretary needs to say very rapidly if she was told that European Court officials were saying that the date was Tuesday before she went ahead with her statement.

“If the Home Secretary knew there was a significant risk over the deadline, but failed to check with the Court and decided to plough ahead on the wrong date, that is a serious failure of judgement on a case which has significant national security implications.

“I hope the Home Office legal advice turns out to be right so that Abu Qatada can be kept in custody and then deported within the rule of law. But the Home Secretary should not have taken a risk with national security that could delay Abu Qatada's deportation further, or increase the chance he will be allowed back on the streets - something none of us want to see.”