The Government must deport Abu Qatada, regardless
Apparently, we can’t deport him, despite his forged passport, because there is no assurance that the Jordanian authorities won’t convict him on the strength of evidence obtained by torture. It wouldn’t be a fair trial, you see. What that has to do with HM Government is also something of a mystery, but the European Court of Human Rights has decreed that it most certainly is their/our business, so the British taxpayer is now compelled to house him, support him, feed him and guard him at an estimated cost of £10,000 a week (that’s £500,000 a year, on top of the £1.5million already provided in legal aid and benefits). Some 60 police officers and MI5 agents will provide round-the-clock protection for him and his family. Seemingly ignoring the fact that the primary duty of government is to protect its citizens, the Coalition is apparently more concerned with protecting Abu Qatada from the public than with protecting the public from him.
But he has committed no crime, you say, so he is entitled to a generous welfare settlement and state protection. In the immortal words of Margaret Thatcher, “No. No. No!” Abu Qatada is on record as having praised Osama bin Laden: he told his congregation at Finsbury Park Mosque that Americans should be attacked, wherever they are; that in his view they are no better than Jews (which is low indeed); and that there is no difference between the British, Jews and Americans. We should all be slaughtered, he avers, for the sake of Islam, which would be no sin.
So, regardless of any judgement of the European Court of Human Rights; regardless of any protestations from the Liberal Democrats; regardless of any technical legalistic intervention from Donal Blaney; and regardless, too, of any opposition from the Attorney General Dominic Grieve, whose adoration of the blessed ECHR verges on idolatry, Abu Qatada must be dispatched forthwith to Jordan, whence he came, and where his garb, preaching and pontificating would become someone else’s problem (ethical and financial).
Conservatives believe in the rule of law, of course. Yet increasingly the ECtHR has shown itself to be antithetical to UK interests and prepared to ride roughshod over centuries of established custom and the common law tradition. This is not a narrow partisan issue incited by ‘swivel-eyed, right-wing xenophobes’ who insist on ‘banging on about Europe’; last year Parliament was almost unanimous in setting its face against the ECtHR judgement that we should enfranchise prisoners and grant them the right to vote.
We shouldn’t, and we won’t. In British tradition, voting is an entitlement of the law-abiding, not a right of the lawless. To convert our entitlements into rights dispenses with the need for a social contract, for our rights become inviolable while the concept of duty and responsibility is negated, the rule of law is undermined and justice perverted. Parliament has been subsumed to alien powers; the Queen has been usurped by foreign princes and potentates; and our politicians have been emasculated by unconfined judges. That is the issue before the Government today: are we free to determine our laws and live in accordance with our customs and traditions and rights which go back to Magna Carta and include the Bill of Rights 1689 which declares the supremacy of Parliament over all courts? Or are we now unavoidably and irrevocably subject to a deficient court with designs on European domination through judicial activism?
Let’s be clear about this. Abu Qatada’s presence in the UK isn’t ‘conducive to the public good’. If a Dutch MP can be banned from the UK (even temporarily) for fear of inflaming Islamophobic hatred, why in the name of Allah can’t we deport a foreign Anglophobic Islamaniac intent on inciting hatred against the very foundations of the liberal and democratic state? And we must note the ‘even temporary’ qualification on the treatment of Geert Wilders, not least because it won’t be too long before Abu Qatada’s bail conditions are relaxed and he’ll be free to post on the internet, phone his Islamist ummah-mates and collect his kids from school without being electronically monitored.
This is an issue of national security: Abu Qatada is deemed to constitute a ‘dangerous risk’. The British people see it, the Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper sees it, Conservative backbenchers see it, most of the Cabinet see it, and the Prime Minister sees it. So what is the Government doing? Dispatching the very nice security minister James Brokenshire to negotiate with Jordan and gain assurances that Abu Qatada will get a fair trial.
What constitutes a ‘fair trial’ in an Islamic court? What is the ontology of justice? Who determines the epistemology of fairness? Who arbitrates the methodology of due process? In truth, none of this judicial philosophy is any business at all of either HM Government or the British people. The alien is welcome here and we should be hospitable towards him, but not if he seeks to blow us all to kingdom come and impose a sharia-compliant caliphate. That is not a notion of justice we should admit or negotiate with. Abu Qatada’s continuing presence is not only an affront to civic morality; it is detrimental to the public good.
And why has he never been charged with any crime? He is not only in the UK illegally on a forged passport; he has spent the best part of a decade, at taxpayers’ expense, exhorting young British Muslims to take up arms against the British, Americans and Jews in the name of Mohammed and for the greater glory of Allah. In short, he has incited murder. Why in God’s name are we sending our brave men and women to die in Afghanistan and Iraq while the likes of Abu Qatada are let in through the back door? And why is the Government not prepared to do something about it?
Perhaps we must return to the Attorney General Dominic Grieve, whose task it is to ensure that HM Government upholds the rule of law, even if that law is handed down from Strasbourg and is offensively sacrosanct. There are those who will blame the Europhile Liberal Democrats for inflicting Qatada upon the country, but the real block to reform is indeed the Attorney General. While Tim Montgomerie and ConservativeHome focus on the hapless Andrew Lansley and his floundering Health and Social Care Bill, it falls to this blog to highlight the more egregious offence and the far greater governmental incompetence – that of permitting a foreign court filled with incompetent lawyers to override the Sovereign Legislature and negate the supremacy of Parliament. And responsibility for that lies foursquare with the office of Dominic Grieve, who asserts that HM Government may not pick and choose or play fast and loose with the law. Mr Grieve is one of the Conservative Party’s foremost proponents of the ECHR. The fault, he avers, is not in the law but its interpretation. He lauded the ECHR in his 1997 maiden speech, in which he said:
The incorporation of the European convention on human rights into our national law is something that, although challenging, is nevertheless desirable if it can be done without diminishing the sovereignty of Parliament.It is indeed challenging, not least because it is manifestly diminishing the sovereignty of Parliament. So does the ECHR thereby become undesirable? No, for both Ken Clarke and Dominic Grieve – the two most senior legal minds in the Cabinet – are opposed in principle to derogation from or revocation of the European Convention (or repeal of the Human Rights Act). It is wrong to blame the Liberal Democrats: it is Conservatives who are the impediments to reform. The Prime Minister cannot fight his corner ‘in Europe' without first fighting his own Cabinet and thereby tearing his party asunder (yet again) over the issue of 'Europe'. Or that’s his excuse.
Perhaps Abu Qatada may yet do the nation a great service, for his continuing presence here exposes the manifest impotence of Parliament, the hypocrisy of the Government, and the corrosive sophistry of the political class.