Judge denies ‘creativity’ over Abu Qatada ruling

EUROPE’S senior judge has defended his court’s decision to block the deportation of radical cleric Abu Qatada.

Sir Nicolas Bratza hit back yesterday at suggestions the court was “interfering” in domestic matters when he appeared before MPs and peers.

The European Court of Human Rights president also dismissed claims the judiciary was being “creative” in the way it was interpreting laws on prisoner voting rights, insisting the rules date back to the 1970s.

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“If there was creativity, it was creativity 30 years ago,” Sir Nicolas told parliament’s joint committee on human rights.

The UK government and the court have clashed over a number of issues in recent months. Prime Minister David Cameron has come under pressure from Tory backbenchers over claims that the ECHR is meddling in British affairs.

In January, Home Secretary Theresa May said it was unacceptable that Britain was unable to deport Qatada, who “poses a serious risk to national security”.

Asked if he agreed the court had gone beyond its traditional powers, by invoking Qatada’s right to a fair trial to “frustrate” his deportation, Sir Nicolas said: “As I was a party to that, I don’t think I can accept that.”