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The many virtues of Theresa May's statement on Abu Qatada

By Andrew Gimson 
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The Home Secretary’s statement on the deportation of Abu Qatada is a model of its kind. Theresa May conveys steely determination undiluted by any resort to vulgar rejoicing. She is “glad”, but recognises that we still need “to make sense of our human rights laws”.

Not the least of the merits of this statement is its concision. It is only half a dozen sentences long. Here it is in full:

“Abu Qatada was deported today to his home country of Jordan to face terrorism charges.

His departure marks the conclusion of efforts to remove him since 2001 and I believe this will be welcomed by the British public.

I am glad that this government’s determination to see him on a plane has been vindicated and that we have at last achieved what previous governments, Parliament and the British public have long called for. This dangerous man has now been removed from our shores to face the courts in his own country.

I am also clear that we need to make sense of our human rights laws and remove the many layers of appeals available to foreign nationals we want to deport. We are taking steps – including through the new Immigration Bill – to put this right.

How relieved one feels, as a reader, to be spared an exposition of the hideous legal complexities which surround this subject. When she spoke this morning on BBC radio, she preserved the same qualities of concision, resolution and self-restraint.

Mrs May is a politician, not a lawyer, so makes a declaration of political will. She points out that even in the present, highly unsatisfactory state of the law, the Government can achieve things – can be “vindicated” - if it is determined enough. When ministers such as herself try hard enough, they can achieve what the British public want. And Mrs May assures us that the same determination is being brought to the indispensible task of getting the laws in this area to “make sense”. 


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