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