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Last Updated: Saturday, 19 April, 2003, 10:23 GMT 11:23 UK
Hamza case 'could cost 250,000'
Sheikh Abu Hamza
Sheikh Abu Hamza praised Osama Bin Laden
Taxpayers could be faced with a legal bill of 250,000 to fight cleric Sheikh Abu Hamza's bid to remain in the UK, the shadow home secretary has claimed.

The controversial preacher has launched an appeal against his deportation ordered by Home Secretary David Blunkett, his solicitors, Arani & Co confirmed.

Oliver Letwin said the final bill could reach "close to 250,000".

"Every right-minded person in Britain will be outraged at the thought of taxpayers' money being spent on Hamza's legal battle," he said.

Every right-minded person in Britain will be outraged at the thought of taxpayers' money being spent on Hamza's legal battle
Oliver Letwin

"He is a man who clearly has no place in Britain. The sooner he goes the better."

Egyptian-born Mr Abu Hamza has become the controversial face of radical Islam in the UK.

He was a regular preacher at the Finsbury Park mosque in North London until his suspension by the Charity Commission last April and has angered many with praise for Osama Bin Laden and condemnation of Britain, the US and Israel.

New powers

Mr Blunkett withdrew Mr Abu Hamza's British citizenship under the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002.

The new powers were introduced at the beginning of April and allow British nationality to be removed from people with dual citizenship who are believed to have acted against the vital interests of the UK.

Aware Mr Abu Hamza would be likely to appeal, Mr Blunkett said when he announced the move that an appeal would focus on "the way in which people are encouraged to take part in the jihad and fight us overseas".

He added at the time: "I want to deal with people who our intelligence and security people believe are a risk to us."

Extradition bids

Earlier this week prosecutors in America indicated they may apply for Mr Abu Hamza's extradition to face terrorist charges relating to the al-Qaeda network.

And Yemen renewed its request for his extradition to face kidnapping charges.

In 1999 he was questioned by Scotland Yard detectives on suspicion of plotting plots to bomb targets there.

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