Abu Qatada, Radical Cleric, Remanded In Custody After Alleged Bail Breach, Ahead Of Home Office Deportation Bid

Radical preacher Abu Qatada must remain in custody following his arrest for allegedly breaching his bail conditions, a judge ruled.

UK Border Agency officials arrested Qatada on Friday, days ahead of the Government's latest deportation bid in court, following raids by the Metropolitan Police Service Counter Terrorism unit.

Mr Justice Irwin, chairman of the Special Immigration Appeals Commission (SIAC), refused to grant Qatada bail at a telephone hearing, a spokesman for the Judicial Office said.

Abu Qatada was arrested outside his home on Friday

He was ordered to return to Belmarsh prison ahead of a further hearing to take place on March 21.

The court heard evidence suggesting Qatada had broken his bail condition which prohibits him from permitting mobile phones to be switched on in his house while he is present, the spokesman added.

A spokesman for the Judicial Office said: "At a telephone hearing this afternoon with lawyers for both sides, Mr Justice Irwin, chairman of SIAC, ordered the return of Omar Othman, otherwise known as Abu Qatada, to prison.

"There was material before SIAC suggesting he had breached his bail conditions. There will be a further hearing in the matter on March 21, giving both sides the opportunity to submit more evidence in the matter."

In his ruling, Mr Justice Irwin said there was "strong prima facie evidence" that Qatada had breached a bail condition which prohibits him from having mobile telephones switched on in his house while he is present.

It also bans communications equipment such as digital media devices, re-writable CDs and pen drives being brought into his house.

Qatada will initially be held by the Metropolitan Police before returning to Belmarsh prison later today, the judge ordered.

Further consideration of bail will be brought before SIAC on Thursday March 21, he added.

A Home Office spokesman said: "We are pleased the Special Immigration Appeals Commission has decided to revoke bail for this individual on an interim basis following serious breaches of his bail conditions.

"We will vigorously argue our case at the next hearing on March 21."

Qatada was arrested outside his home by the UKBA, The Sun has reported.

Pictures show him being escorted out of his house by officials with his hands hidden under a jacket.

Raids on his home by terror police began at 6.30am on Thursday, Scotland Yard said, and were followed by his arrest by the UKBA on Friday.

Once described by a Spanish judge as "Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe", Qatada has used human rights laws to fight deportation for more than a decade.

SIAC decided last November that Qatada could not lawfully be deported to Jordan, where he was convicted of terror charges in his absence in 1999.

SIAC judges ruled there was a danger that evidence from Qatada's former co-defendants Abu Hawsher and Al-Hamasher, said to have been obtained by torture, could be used against him in a retrial in Jordan.

He was granted bail following the ruling by three SIAC judges and released from HMP Long Lartin, returning to his family home in London.

However, on Monday the Government will challenge the decision in front of three Court of Appeal judges led by Lord Dyson, the Master of the Rolls.

A Metropolitan police spokesman said officers had completed their searches of all four properties on Saturday and no hazardous materials had been found.

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