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Thursday, September 30, 1999 Published at 17:29 GMT 18:29 UK


UK

Straw loses cleric deportation battle

Shafiq ur Rehman is pictured second from right

Home Secretary Jack Straw has been refused permission to appeal against a tribunal ruling stopping him from ordering the deportation of a Muslim cleric.

The newly-established Special Immigration Appeals Commission upheld its decision earlier this month that Shafiq ur Rehman should not be returned to his native Pakistan after he was accused of acting as a terrorist mastermind.


[ image: The Oldham mosque where Shafiq ur Rehman is based]
The Oldham mosque where Shafiq ur Rehman is based
But Home Office officials immediately indicated they could still approach the Court of Appeal directly in their attempt overturn the groundbreaking judgment, delivered by High Court judge Mr Justice Potts.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: "Today's hearing was to seek leave to appeal against the Commission's original decision. That leave was refused.

"We are now considering whether we will take that appeal (against the original decision) to the Court of Appeal."

Terrorism allegations

Father-of-two Mr Rehman, from Oldham, Greater Manchester, was accused of trying to raise funds for a Holy War in Indian Kashmir and recruiting British Muslims to undergo military training to join guerillas in the province.

Lawyers for the cleric, who was unsuccessfully targeted as an informer by MI5, claimed the deportation order was a punishment for his refusal to co-operate with the authorities.

Speaking after Thursday's hearing in central London, Sibghat Kadri QC, for Mr Rehman, said: "The tribunal has decided that its original decision was hard and fast and yet the Home Office is still considering whether to appeal. They should accept the decision."

Mr Kadri also criticised a decision by the Lord Chancellor's Department not to grant Mr Rehman legal aid for his case, saying the tribunal had pointed out that the cleric should be properly represented for a legally important case.

The ruling, which has wide-ranging implications for Government attempts to crack down on alleged sponsorship of international terrorism from Britain, was the first by the tribunal in its role to adjudicate on deportations ordered on national security grounds.





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