Muslim extremist Abu Qatada to receive £8,000 incapacity benefits a year – for his bad back
By Tom Kelly
Last updated at 9:20 AM on 23rd June 2008
Abu Qatada: The fanatic is accused of plotting atrocities in Jordan
Abu Qatada is to receive almost £8,000 a year in benefits because he has a bad back.
The fanatical cleric, said to be Osama Bin Laden’s ambassador in Europe, will get £150 a week of taxpayer’s cash after being released from jail last week.
He was granted the incapacity benefit because his condition makes him unfit to work – even though a curfew allows him out of his home for only two hours a day, meaning it would be almost impossible for him to get a job.
Qatada left Long Lartin prison in Worcestershire after the Appeal Court blocked his deportation to Jordan.
He is now living in an £800,000 four-bedroom Edwardian semi in a tree-lined street in West London.
His incapacity allowance will push
the family’s total annual handouts to more than £50,000.
His wife has been claiming £45,000 a year in child benefit, income support, housing benefit and council tax credit for the past four years.
Steve Pound, Labour MP for Ealing North, which borders Qatada’s West London home, said: ‘This is adding insult to injury. He abuses us and bleeds us dry at the same time.
‘The sooner he gets back to Jordan the better. I for one would put him in the boot of my car and drive him there myself.’
Taxpayers are also footing an estimated £500,000 a year bill to provide round-the-clock surveillance on Qatada, who has been described by a judges as a ‘truly dangerous individual’.
He arrived in Britain 14 years ago on a forged passport and was granted asylum the following year.
He was convicted in his absence in Jordan of involvement with terror attacks in 1998, and of plotting to plant bombs during the Millennium-celebrations. Last week a judge freed the cleric on bail after ruling he would face an unfair trial if deported to Jordan.
But the Special Immigration Appeals Commission imposed un-precedented conditions on his release, including a 22-hour curfew and wearing an electronic tag.
* Nearly a third of those claiming ‘sicknote’ benefits – some 800,000 people – have been doing so for more than a decade, figures revealed.
In total 2.64million Britons live on incapacity benefit or related handouts.
Details of how hundreds of thousands appear to have backed away from returning to work throws light on the way incapacity benefit has replaced unemployment benefit as the real measure of worklessness.
Those who say they are unemployed and claim the Jobseekers’ Allowance get less money than those on sickness benefits – and come under pressure to find work.
The cost of incapacity benefit to the taxpayer is now calculated to run at £16billion a year.
The figure includes the cost of housing benefit and council tax benefit that can be claimed by anyone receiving the incapacity payments.
Checks on the handout to be introduced this autumn will only affect new claimants.