Page last updated at 17:41 GMT, Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Tory MPs call on home secretary to deport Qatada 'immediately'

Conservative MPs have called on the home secretary to "become a national hero" by ignoring a judgement from the European Court of Human Rights (EHCR) and deporting a terror suspect to Jordan immediately.

Radical cleric Abu Qatada is due to be released on bail while diplomats try to strike a new deal with Jordan which would satisfy the European Court that the 51-year-old would not be tried on evidence obtained from torture.

Answering an urgent question in the Commons on 7 February 2012, Home Secretary Theresa May insisted the bail conditions would be "most stringent" and that the government would seek to deport Qatada before the bail expired in three months.

"The right place for a terrorist is a prison cell; the right place for a foreign terrorist is a foreign prison cell far away from Britain," Mrs May said.

The government "vehemently disagreed" with the EHCR's decision and would be "considering all legal options", the home secretary assured MPs.

But Conservative MP Peter Bone wanted action to be taken sooner.

"We have a vicious, nasty terrorist. We have the Supreme Court who says send him home. We have a friendly government. We have a gutsy home secretary," he told MPs.

"You have listened to what Parliament has said today. You could become a national hero if you leave this chamber, pick up the phone and order him to be sent back to Jordan tonight," he concluded.

Fellow Conservative MP Jason McCartney agreed, asking what sanctions would be if the UK ignored the ECHR and "put national security first".

"If it was to be a fine can I just say I personally would put £50 in the pot," the Colne Valley MP said.

Mrs May replied that she had noted his suggestion and said: "I think it is right that as the government we look at operating with the legal framework we have open to us."

Earlier, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper asked what would happen if negotiations with Jordan failed and the bail period could not be extended, claiming the UK's "weakened" counter-terror laws would not offer adequate protection.

"We support you in your actions to protect the public and to take action to get deportation in place. But you should be straining every sinew on behalf of the public to get him deported and if you can't, you should make sure we now have the legislation and safeguards in place to protect the public now," Ms Cooper said.

Mrs May replied that the government was confident it "should be able" to deport Abu Qatada, and defended government policy on counter-terrorism, claiming extra funding had been given to the police and security services.

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