- Free to walk the streets, asylum seeker thieves and drug dealers
By Jack Doyle
Last updated at 12:21 AM on 29th June 2011
Impunity: Banned radical extremist Raed Salah walking free in the streets of Leicester yesterday
Britain’s powerlessness to control who has the right to be in this country was glaringly exposed last night by two extraordinary cases.
In the first, an anti-Semitic preacher of hate whom the Home Secretary had banned from entering Britain was able to stroll in through Heathrow.
Last night, Raed Salah was giving a lecture organised by Islamist radicals to a large crowd in Leicester, and today he was due to speak at Westminster at the invitation of Left-wing Labour MPs.
In the second, a bombshell ruling by European judges blocked the deportation of some 200 Somali criminals back to their homeland.
The Strasbourg court said the men, including drug dealers and serial burglars, might be persecuted in war-torn Somalia, and that they must be allowed to stay to protect their human rights.
So, irrespective of how heinous their crimes or the danger they present to the public, Britain has no power to expel them.
The ruling by the European Court of Human Rights stemmed from appeals against deportation by two asylum seekers convicted of a string of serious offences including burglary, making threats to kill and drug dealing.
But it will now also apply to 214 other similar cases which have been lodged with the court using Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Article 3, which protects against torture and inhuman or degrading treatment, is an ‘absolute’ right, meaning that it applies regardless of the offences committed.
The two men, who were both granted thousands in legal aid to fight their cases, will now be released from immigration detention centres and will be free to walk the streets.
They were jointly awarded more than £20,000 for costs and expenses.
Critics accused the Government of rolling over to the demands of the court, and branded the Human Rights Act a ‘criminals’ charter’.
Backbench Tory MP Douglas Carswell said: ‘The pathetic truth is that we do not have control over our borders, and these cases quite clearly show that we do not control not only who comes in to the country but who we choose to remove.
‘My constituents do not want any more mealy-mouthed promises about getting a grip on this – they want to know what the Government is actually going to do.
‘Successive governments have given all the promises on immigration you would expect of a second-hand car salesman. Ministers now need to start actually delivering on real promises and real control over our borders.’
Fury: Tory backbencher Douglas Carswell, left, and UKIP MEP Gerard Batten have slammed the Government over its refusal to act to secure the UK’s borders in the face of EU human rights law
UK Independence Party MEP Gerard Batten said: ‘It is the absolute duty of the British Government to protect the lives and property of British citizens.
‘If foreign nationals prey on people here they should be sent home to where they came from – no ifs, no buts.’
He added: ‘For the European Court of Human Rights to give Britain orders is bad enough; knowing that the Government will roll over to their demands is worse.
‘This decision confirms that the Human Rights Act is a criminals’ charter.’
The case involves two Somalis whom ministers intended to return to the Somali capital, Mogadishu, because of their serial offending.
Abdisamad Adow Sufi, 24, entered the country illegally in 2003 using a fake passport. He claimed asylum on the grounds that he belonged to a minority clan persecuted by the Somali militia.
His claim was rejected by officials and an appeal tribunal said his account was ‘not credible’.
Since then he has amassed a string of convictions for offences including burglary, fraud, making threats to kill, indecent exposure and theft.
The second Somali, drug addict Abdiaziz Ibrahim Elmi, 42, was granted asylum in 1988. Since then he has committed crimes including handling stolen goods, fraud, robbery, carrying a replica gun, perverting the course of justice, theft and dealing heroin and cocaine.
Attempts to deport him began in 2006 and his appeal was rejected by an immigration judge. A deportation order was stayed in 2007 pending the outcome of his Strasbourg case, and since then he has been convicted of possessing Class A drugs and charged with drug dealing.
The panel of seven judges ruled that because the level of violence in Mogadishu was so high there was a real risk of the men coming to harm.
In a unanimous judgment, the court also rejected the argument the men could leave the capital and return to safer parts of the country.
The judges said Sufi could not join his relatives because they lived in an area controlled by a strict Islamic group. If returned, he could face punishment according to their code – also a breach of his rights.
He would also be particularly vulnerable if forced to live in a refugee camp because of his ‘psychiatric illness’, the court said.
Elmi claimed he would be at risk of persecution if he moved to an area controlled by the same group, because he wore an earring, which might lead to them thinking he was gay.
If they found out he was a drug addict and thief he could face amputation, public flogging or execution, he said.
The court ruled he had no experience of living in a strict Islamic area because he has been in this country for so long and would therefore be at risk of harm.
The ruling said: ‘The court reiterated that the prohibition of torture and of inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment was absolute, irrespective of the victims’ conduct.
‘Consequently, the applicants’ behaviour, however undesirable or dangerous, could not be taken into account.’
The case will seriously hamper further attempts by ministers to deport foreign criminals, failed asylum seekers and illegal immigrants back to Somalia. Last year just 35 were kicked out.
Around two thirds of the 214 other cases are thought to involve criminals. Others are failed asylum seekers and illegal immigrants.
A UK Border Agency spokesman said: ‘We are very disappointed with the European Court’s decision and are considering our legal position.
‘This judgment does not stop us continuing to pursue the removal of foreign criminals who commit a serious crime, nor does it find that all Somalis are in need of international protection.’
Banned extremist begins speaking tour – but where are the police?
By JAMES SLACK and NICK FAGGE
An Islamic extremist who is supposedly banned from Britain delivered a speech to a packed hall in the Midlands last night.
Raed Salah, who is accused of ‘virulent anti-semitism’, strolled through immigration checks at Heathrow Airport on Saturday, despite being excluded from the UK by the Home Secretary.
Since then, he has evaded police and border officials to begin a speaking tour in which he was due to share a platform at Westminster today with Left-wing Labour MPs.
Theresa May – determined to be tough on extremists – is furious with blundering UK Border Agency staff who allowed Salah into the country, and wants him removed as quickly as possible.
Yet, to the fury of Jewish groups, Salah was last night able to address a packed hall of 500 British Muslims in Leicester.
The cleric, leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, also addressed an audience at Conway Hall, in London, on Monday evening.
Police were said to be trying to hunt him down, but he was not arrested at the event though the power is available to officers if his presence in Britain is considered not to be ‘conducive to the public good’.
‘9/11 WAS A PLOT BY THE ISRAELIS’
A string of extremist statements have been attributed to Raed Salah, though he denies having said many of them.
He is said to have cast doubt on Osama Bin Laden’s culpability for 9/11, suggesting instead the attacks were an Israeli plot and that Jews were warned not to go to work at the World Trade Center on that day.
On homosexuality, Salah reportedly said: ‘It is a crime. A great crime. Such phenomena signal the start of the collapse of every society.
‘Those who believe in Allah know that behaviour of that kind brings his wrath and is liable to cause the worst things to happen.’
In 2008 he was charged with incitement to violence and racism by a Jerusalem court over a speech in which he invoked what is known as the ‘blood libel’ – a notorious anti-Semitic slur.
In the speech, delivered in February the previous year, he was said to have accused Jewish people of using children’s blood to bake bread.
At the time, Israeli newspapers quoted him as saying: ‘We have never allowed ourselves to knead [the dough for] the bread that breaks the fast in the holy month of Ramadan with children’s blood. Whoever wants a more thorough explanation, let him ask what used to happen to some children in Europe, whose blood was mixed in with the dough of the [Jewish] holy bread.’
After the speech the 1,000-strong crowd began rioting and throwing stones at police.
Prosecutors claimed the speech was a ‘call to commit acts of violence and encouragement of acts of violence’ and anti-Semitism. Salah denied the charges, and was not convicted.
He was released from prison in 2005 after serving two years for raising millions of pounds for the Palestinian terror group Hamas and for having contact with an Iranian intelligence agent.
Officials are now waiting to see if a hugely embarrassing appearance at Westminster, originally scheduled to take place alongside three Labour MPs, will go ahead today.
The MPs have been told by party managers they must not share a platform with a man who is banned from the UK. The event has been moved from the Commons to an undisclosed venue.
The involvement of the Labour MPs is a blow to Ed Miliband, limiting his opportunity to make political capital from the fiasco.
Mrs May, who has just launched a new strategy promising to come down hard on extreme views, excluded Salah from travelling to the UK last week.
But last night his spokesman described how he strolled through border checks which were supposed to identify that he was on a list of banned fanatics.
Lubna Masarwa said: ‘This is not the first time the sheik has come to the UK. He came on a scheduled flight from Tel Aviv to Heathrow on Saturday June 25.
‘He presented his passport. He was asked only a couple of questions about the purpose of his visit.’
The spokesman added: ‘He denies all claims that he is anti-Semitic.’
The failures of UKBA and the decision of Labour MPs to share a platform with him provoked fury.
Mark Gardner, on behalf of the Jewish groups the Board of Deputies and the Community Security Trust, said: ‘The Jewish community will be dismayed by the apparent failure to prevent Raed Salah’s entry to the UK.
‘We deplore those MPs and other public figures who promote this man and thereby undermine the Government’s anti-extremism efforts.’
Conservative MP Mike Freer, who accused Salah of ‘virulent anti-Semitism’ earlier this week, said: ‘The UK Border Agency has made a very serious error in letting this man walk through passport control.’
Yvette Cooper, Shadow Home Secretary said: ‘The Government’s rhetoric of being tough on border controls has just been exposed as an incompetent sham.’
His friends on the Left
ANALYSIS By JAMES SLACK
While the Raed Salah shambles is a bitter blow to the UK Border Agency, it is also a huge embarrassment for the Labour Party, three of whose MPs were planning to share a platform with the fanatic.
The trio led by Jeremy Corbyn, one of the party’s most Left-wing MPs, were intending to speak alongside Salah at a House of Commons debate today.
Richard Burden, a former union activist, and Yasmin Qureshi, Labour’s first Muslim woman MP, were also due to participate.
Salah’s friends on the left: From left, Labour MPs Jeremy Corbyn, Richard Burden and Yasmin Qureshi
The event, which has now been banned by the Commons authorities, was being hosted by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, whose patrons include Labour MP John Austin, Mr Corbyn, Tony Benn, and ex-union baron Rodney Bickerstaffe. Bob Crow, the arch-Left leader of the RMT, is also a member. In other words, it is an organisation dominated by Labour and union figures.
Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League said: ‘It is disturbing that anyone would give an audience or even a modicum of credibility to Raed Salah, an extremist who has a long history of anti-Semitism and inciting violence against Jews.
‘Anyone seriously interested in his opinions on peace in the Middle East is either ignorant of who Salah is or, worse, condones his anti-Semitism.’
Jennifer Gerber, director of Labour Friends of Israel, told the Jewish Chronicle: ‘In inviting an individual who reportedly repeated blood libel claims, it seems the PSC, and the MPs sharing a platform with him, regard these views as acceptable.’
Mainstream Labour MPs were horrified, while the MPs involved are understood to have been told by party managers they must not share a platform with Salah.
Ed Miliband, whose father fled to Britain in 1940 to avoid persecution by the Nazis, will now find it harder to attack the Government over the fiasco.
For the UK Border Agency to have failed to spot a known fanatic whom the Home Secretary had banned from Britain only two or three days previously is the height of farce.
However, should Mr Miliband seek to taunt David Cameron over the blunder, he can expect the reply to be short and to the point: Your MPs wanted him here!