Labour takes aim as 'spiritual leader' walks free

Labour takes aim as 'spiritual leader' walks free
Labour takes aim as 'spiritual leader' walks free

By Oliver Hotham

The government has failed to use every tool at its disposal to prevent the release of radical cleric Abu Qatada, Labour argued today.

Just hours before the man described as 'the spiritual leader of Al Qaeda in Europe' was due to be freed from prison in Worchester, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper issued a damning appraisal the government's response to the decision.

"It is clear the government has not done all it can to stop Abu Qatada being released from high-security prison today," she said.

"We are also seriously concerned that should Qatada’s bail conditions be relaxed, within weeks he could be free to do the school run he has been banned from today.

"The government’s scrapping of Control Orders means that even were Qatada to be given a new Tpim [terrorism prevention order], he would be free to move around during the day, even using the internet and a mobile phone.

"Inaction from this government could soon be followed by more failure after the home secretary’s decision to weaken counter terror powers designed to deal with situations like this. In issues of national security a more urgent and less cavalier approach is needed."

The decision to free the preacher comes after a special immigration appeals commission ruling that he could not be kept in indefinite detention.

The prime minister's spokesman emphasised the government still wants him deported.

"We are clear that we want to remove Abu Qatada at the earliest possible opportunity," he said.

"In the meantime we've asked for the strictest possible bail measures to be in place.

"We are committed to removing him, and we are looking at all the options."

Qatada will live with close family, only permitted to leave the house for two hours a day and under strict rules.

Despite reports to the contrary, Qatada will not be allowed to take his children to school. He will not be able to use a mobile phone or the internet, and will not be permitted to attend mosque.

His strict bail conditions are to be loosened if in three months the government cannot demonstrate they are making significant progress in their negotiations with the government of Jordan.


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