Sunday, July 07, 2013

Well done Theresa May

After eight years of legal wrangles which have cost the taxpayer £1.7 million, Abu Qatada has finally been deported.

This is a tribute to the determination of Home Secretary Theresa May who has achieved somehing which successive British governments, during the term of office of several home secretaries, have been trying to do for all that time.

We have to be caeful not to simply dismiss the issues which were raised by the courts. One of the things which makes Britain a civilised country, and a place where most of us would want to live, is that there is a check on the absolute authority of those in power provided by independent courts.

In particular, that our rulers cannot have anyone they dislike slung in jail or onto a plane out of the country without reference to those courts.

The fact that we have an independent judiciary means, by definition, that they don't always take the decisions we would like.

Nevertheless it is right that those the government want to deport should have the right of appeal to the courts. And when they dealt with the Abu Qatada case, those courts were also right to insist that guarantees were sought from Jordan, the country to which he was to be deported, that he would have a fair trial at which evidence obtained through torture would not be admissable.

Torture should have no place in the judicial process of any country because you can eventually torture almost anyone into saying whatever he or she thinks you want to hear.

Nevertheless, that establishing whether there was a valid legal basis for deportation in the case of Abu Qatada took eight years suggests that there may be something wrong with our legal processes. Theresa May is quite right to insist that this must be investigated.

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