Abu Qatada and “The Law”
I have followed with interest the learned deliberations of various legal experts on the matter of Abu Qatada, including one in the Times recently by David Pannick QC suggesting that further assurances by Jordan MAY be all that is needed to resolve this issue. Clearly adherence to the rule of law is a fundamental part of our democracy, and one that must sometimes include having to abide by laws who’s provision may be inconvenient to us – this point has been made many times and I get it, as do most people.
However, like most people, I’m not a lawyer and so look at this from the viewpoint of a layperson – and to a layperson the practical effect of the European Human Rights legislation would seem to be that we have created a one – way membrane at our borders when it comes to terrorist suspects fleeing from countries that the ECHR doesn’t like (of which our ally Jordan appears to be one). Once a terrorist suspect gains access to the UK, legally or otherwise, it would now appear to be impossible to get rid of them – not just if they are likely to be mistreated, but if any evidence against them is tainted by mistreatment of someone else. This has created a legal hurdle so high that even a avowed enemy of our country like Abu Qatada cannot be deported, and must be maintained here at our expense for ever.
No doubt some will say that to ignore laws that we don’t like brings the law into disrepute. I say to them nothing has brought the law into greater disrepute than the Abu Qatada case. We are locked into a bad law that disadvantages us and gives hope and succour to our enemies, and that simply cannot continue.
I suggest this – we give the legal profession, here and in Europe, one last chance to resolve this, perhaps along the lines above. If that fails, then we simply do what our French cousins would have done on day one – quietly put him on a place to Jordan and argue the toss afterwards once he is out of the country. Were Cameron to do this I can guarantee that ordinary citizens, be they Labour or Tory, would overwhelmingly back him.
Law is important, but the real world is not a courtroom. If we have to take unilateral action to prove this point to everyone, then that is exactly what we will do.