May 9 2012
Jordanian terror suspect Abu Qatada lost his bid to have his appeal over deportation heard by Europe's top human rights judges.
The ruling clears the way for deportation proceedings against the radical cleric, 51, described by a judge as Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe, to continue.
A panel of five judges rejected Qatada's bid to have his appeal heard by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights, but ruled his application was made in time, a spokesman for the Council of Europe, which runs the court, said.
The decision by the panel of five judges means Home Secretary Theresa May was wrong when she claimed the three-month appeal deadline from the court's original decision on January 17 expired on the night of April 16.
Qatada's lawyers lodged his appeal late on the night of April 17, which the judges ruled was in time.
A spokesman for the court said: "The panel found that the request had been submitted within the three-month time limit for such requests. However, it considered that the request should be refused."
Mrs May is now likely to refuse any application by Qatada's lawyers to revoke his deportation order and he could be on a plane within weeks.
If the Home Secretary also issues a certificate saying any application by Qatada to revoke the deportation order was "clearly unfounded", his lawyers would make an application to the High Court for a judicial review, which could be decided "in a very few weeks".
But if not, Qatada's legal team could appeal against her decision not to revoke the deportation order to a senior immigration judge at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission and the process could still take "many months".
Mrs May said: "I am pleased by the European court's decision. The Qatada case will now go through the British courts. I am confident the assurances we have from Jordan mean we can put Qatada on a plane and get him out of Britain."