The Home Office has released pictures and video footage of Abu Qatada being escorted to an aircraft heading to Jordan where he is to stand trial. He left Belmarsh at midnight and his private jet (carrying a Jordanian welcoming party) took off (yes, they have pictures of that too) from RAF Northolt at 2.45am. He’s likely to appear in a Jordanian court today before being transferred to the high-security Muwaqqar prison. The UK and Jordan have signed a treaty which ensures torture will not be used. This agreement has facilitated his ejection, stopping him appealing to the European Court of Human Rights.
His departure is a significant accomplishment for Theresa May: lesser Home Secretaries have placed Qatada in the catapult but he has always wriggled free. Booting him out should have been easy: he is an al-Qaeda preacher and a Jordanian national who came to the UK illegally in 1993 on a forged United Arab Emirates passport. He lost his appeal against deportation six years ago, but since then has brilliantly exploited the loopholes which the ECHR has woven into English legal system. He’s outfoxed Home Secretaries for years – but May (who was given updates throughout the night) has succeeded where her predecessors failed. As a great lady once said: if you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman.