Page last updated at 17:04 GMT, Friday, 27 February 2009

Terror suspects win bail battle

Jacqui Smith
Jacqui Smith said she was "extremely disappointed" by the decision

The government has decided not to appeal against a court ruling freeing four of five terrorist suspects jailed ahead of their possible deportation.

On Thursday Home Secretary Jacqui Smith ordered the men be detained, despite a Special Immigration Appeals Commission ruling that they should remain on bail.

The men, facing possible deportation to Algeria and Jordan, challenged the home secretary's move as unlawful.

Ms Smith said she was disappointed but would now obey the court ruling.

The five men, four from Algeria and a Jordanian, who cannot be named, are awaiting a court decision on whether they will be deported.

We will take any other steps necessary to maintain national security now that they are being released.
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith

One of the men, an Algerian named in court only as U, has had his bail revoked.

In a statement the home secretary said: "I am extremely disappointed that the courts have allowed these individuals to be released.

"My top priority is to protect the public and I have argued that, given a recent ruling by the House of Lords which was favourable to the government's efforts to deport people from the UK, there is a risk that these individuals will abscond if they are not detained.

"We are bound by the court's decision. These people already face restrictions under their bail, but naturally, we will take any other steps necessary to maintain national security now that they are being released."

BBC home affairs correspondent Andy Tighe said while the home secretary would not challenge the order to release the four men, she would be considering further restrictions on the men's bail conditions.

The detentions had been ordered owing to officials' fears that the men could abscond rather than risk deportation.

The men, who are accused of links to overseas terrorist organisations, argue that they could face torture if returned to their home nations.

Earlier this month the Law Lords ruled the radical Jordanian-born cleric Abu Qatada could be deported. His bail was cancelled last November.

The UK has had agreements from Middle Eastern and African countries, including Algeria and Jordan, intended to guarantee fair treatment of anyone deported from the UK on grounds of national security.

But critics have said the deals are legally worthless, with Human Rights Watch director Tom Porteous calling them "flimsy and unenforceable".



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