08/07/2013 14:09 BST | Updated 08/07/2013 14:41 BST

Theresa May Wants 'Crazy' Human Rights Laws Change To Stop Another Abu Qatada Fiasco


Home Secretary Theresa May has called for something to be done to stop the “crazy interpretation of our human rights laws” to stop a costly and lengthy deportation battle, as seen with the furore over deporting terror suspect Abu Qatada.

May was speaking the day after Qatada was finally sent back to Jordan, bringing a near-decade dispute to an end.

The Home Secretary railed at the £1.7m cost of deporting Qatada, telling MPs: “I have made clear my view that in the end the Human Rights Act must be scrapped.”

“We must also consider our relationship with the European Court very carefully, and I believe that all options - including withdrawing from the Convention altogether - should remain on the table."

May said the government needed to crack down on legal fees spent by defendants and slash the layers of appeal available for foreign nationals fighting deportation, after the taxpayer ended up funding nearly £430,000 of Qatada’s legal fees.

Justice Secretary Chris Grayling is working on this issue with legal aid reforms, May said, while Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith is examining how to cut benefits claimed by terror suspects and extremists. May said the Immigration Bill would make it easier to stop “spurious appeals” from foreign nationals.

In a statement about Qatada’s deportation greeted with applause from Tory MPs, May said: "Successive governments have sought to deport Qatada since 2001.

"The long delays and significant costs that his case has incurred are down to the many layers of appeal rights that were available to him, and real problems with our human rights laws."


The Government had succeeded in deporting Qatada by "respecting the rule of law", May told MPs. "We did not ignore court judgments we did not like. We did not act outside of the law. We did what was right."

The Home Secretary accused the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg of “moving the goalposts” when it ruled that it would be unlawful to deport Qatada because of the danger of evidence obtained through torture being used against him.

“Problems caused by the Human Rights Act and the European Court in Strasbourg remain", she said. Qatada would have been deported “long ago” were it not for the ECHR’s “new, unprecedented legal grounds” to foil the move.

The Government has fought to deport Qatada to Jordan for around eight years, who had been convicted in Jordan of terror charges in 1999. However, the preacher continually used human rights laws in order to stay in the UK.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of human rights campaigners Liberty, said: "Ministers' responses to Qatada's departure are as curious as they are depressing.

"They say they got Jordan to change its laws to ban torture evidence so that he and others can be safely tried in that country.

"Why then aren't they celebrating their successful promotion of human rights abroad instead of threatening to tear them up here at home?"