UK PM David Cameron welcomes deportation of radical cleric Abu Qatada

Abu QatadaAbu Qatada (AP)

Prime Minister David Cameron today welcomed the deportation of radical Muslim cleric Abu Qatada after legal marathon, saying removing the terror suspect from Britain had been a priority for his government.

Cameron tweeted his pleasure just hours after Qatada, 53, left Britain aboard a private flight bound for Jordan from RAF Northolt in west London.

"Dangerous" Qatada was deported after a decade-long legal battle which, according to a report, cost Britain at least 1.7 million pounds.

Shortly after the plane carrying Qatada, once considered the right-hand man of Osama Bin Laden in Europe, left the UK, Home Secretary Theresa May said: "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."

Following numerous courtroom battles, it was a treaty signed between the UK and Jordan that finally secured Qatada's departure, giving the radical preacher the assurances he needed to leave his taxpayer-funded home behind.

The agreement, announced by the home secretary, earlier this year, aimed to allay fears that evidence extracted through torture will be used against the father of five at a retrial.

Qatada had pledged in May to leave Britain - with his family in tow if and when the treaty was fully ratified, a process that to the relief of many, concluded earlier this


Keith Vaz, the chairman of the home affairs select committee, said: "Only 446 days after the home secretary said Abu Qatada would be on a plane shortly, he has finally reached the end of the runway. In the end, it was the king of Jordan who secured his departure by agreeing to this treaty."

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