Qatada Deportation Fight Costs Near £1m

Qatada Deportation Fight Costs Near £1m

The cost of trying to deport radical cleric Abu Qatada has reached almost £1m and is set to rise further as he continues to challenge the Government.

Immigration Minister Damian Green admitted the Government's legal bill since 2002 now stands at £825,000 and will keep going up.

This figure only covers legal fees incurred by those trying to send Qatada back to Jordan and does not include his own legal aid bill.

The Legal Services Commission, which runs the legal aid scheme in England and Wales, confirmed last week that he had been receiving public money to fund his appeals.

The cost to the Government will inflame anger over the case, which has led to criticism of Home Secretary Theresa May in recent weeks.

Qatada was rearrested on April 17 in the hope he was finally going to be deported and Mrs May was cheered in the Commons over the move.

But within 48 hours, she was being jeered after Qatada launched a last-ditch appeal amid confusion about the cut-off point for a final court challenge.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled in January that he could not be sent to Jordan without assurances that evidence obtained through torture would not be used at his trial.

The Home Office believed the three-month window to appeal lapsed on April 16 at midnight but Qatada's legal team say it was 24 hours later, giving them another lifeline.

The human rights court is now deciding which side was right on the timing. If the deadline had expired, they will have no discretion to allow the appeal to go to the Grand Chamber.

Mrs May has insisted she had "unambiguous legal advice" from Government lawyers about the deadline and David Cameron says officials had "checked repeatedly".