PM defends Home Office on Qatada deportation delay

By Oliver Hotham

David Cameron has denied that the home secretary made any error in the failure to deport radical cleric Abu Qatada.

In a candid interview with the Today programme, the prime minister defended the actions of Theresa May and the misunderstanding over the dates of the timeframe within which he could appeal.

When asked whether he thought a mistake had been made, Mr Cameron said: "Absolutely not."

He continued: "They wanted, quite rightly, to move as rapidly as possible to remove Abu Qatada from the country."

"They acted, in my view, entirely correctly."

Abu Qatada had been awaiting deportation to Jordan to stand trial for plotting bomb attacks, but the European court of human rights blocked the move on the grounds that evidence used against him might be obtained under torture.

But last week the British government announced they had received the necessary assurances from the Jordanian government.

The home secretary triumphantly announced the imminent deportation of the extremist cleric last Tuesday, only for Qatada to appeal his deportation once again to the European court of human rights.

Ms May came under heavy criticism, including from backbench Tory MPs, who called on the British government to disregard the European court and deport Qatada.

Qatada's appeal in now underway and must be seen by the European court before any moves to deport him can begin.