In an extraordinary immigration farce, Sheikh Raed Salah is free to walk the streets after he was released on bail.
Four weeks ago, the leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel was able to enter the country unchallenged, despite a banning order.
Now Salah, who has been accused in Parliament of ‘virulent anti-Semitism’, is using the Human Rights Act to demand his right to stay, and preach, in the UK.
He has a return plane ticket but while his legal challenge is being resolved he can stay in the country.
Salah is claiming efforts to remove him are in breach of Article 10 of the Human Rights Act, the right to free speech.
The Home Office is intent on deporting him on the grounds that his presence is ‘not conducive to the public good’.
But lawyers for Salah claim kicking him out is a breach of his right to freedom of expression. In effect he is arguing it would be wrong to revoke his visa and to remove him from the country because it prevents him from preaching.
He has already cost the taxpayer thousands of pounds in court and prison costs and the bill is set to rise further during a lengthy court battle.
Salah, who was invited to Britain by Left-wing Labour MPs, was in the country for three days before he was arrested, during which time he addressed two large meetings of supporters.
On June 25 he arrived at Heathrow from Tel Aviv. Only days earlier Home Secretary Theresa May had issued an order banning him from entering the country.
But the papers were never served on him by UK Border Agency officials, and when he landed at Heathrow was able to walk through unhindered on a six-month visitor visa.
He then addressed supporters in central London and Leicester before he was finally arrested. He was held at an immigration removal centre, refused to fly home on his return ticket and has rejected offers of flights home.
He is now staying at a five-bedroom detached house in a leafy suburb in North London while his case is processed.
Last night Douglas Murray, associate director of think-tank the Henry Jackson Society, said the case showed Britons were being ‘taken for mugs’ by extremists.
‘It is yet another demonstration that Britain has become the retirement place of choice and destination for any crazed extremist who wants to be here,’ he said.
Salah, 52, who was banned on the grounds of ‘unacceptable behaviour’, is credited with a string of extremist statements, although he denies he is anti-Semitic or an extremist.
He is said to have claimed the 9/11 plot was carried out by Israelis and Jews were warned not to go to the World Trade Centre in advance of the murderous attack.
He was released from prison in 2005 after serving two years for fundraising for the Palestinian terror group Hamas and for having contact with an Iranian spy.
He arrived in Britain only days after Mrs May launched a new strategy aimed at restricting the opportunities for extremists to spread hate-fuelled speech in the UK.
She was said to be ‘incandescent’ at the blunder by immigration officials and has ordered a full investigation into what went wrong.
Ten days ago the High Court approved bail on a surety of £30,000 on condition that he report to police every day, refrain from preaching, live at a specific address and obey a curfew.
The judge, Mr Justice Stadlen, said Salah had a ‘good arguable case’ for judicial review.
The case will go to the Court of Appeal today where the Home Office will argue for bail to be revoked.
Ministers are still determined to kick him out, a Home Office spokesman said, adding: ‘We were very disappointed with the court’s decision to grant bail and have appealed. We are still seeking to deport Salah.’