PM pledge after Hamza US conviction

David Cameron has pledged to "take more steps" to speed up the deportation of people who pose a threat to Britain following the conviction in the United States of radical cleric Abu Hamza on terrorism charges.

Home Secretary Theresa May has  welcomed the terror conviction of Islamic preacher Abu Hamza in New York
Prime Minister David Cameron has welcomed the terror conviction of Islamic preacher Abu Hamza in New York

The north London preacher, who was tried under the name Mustafa Kamel Mustafa, could face life in prison after a federal court in New York found him guilty of supporting terrorist organisations, including aiding the taking of hostages in Yemen and seeking to set up an al Qaida training camp in the US.

The Prime Minister said it was "good that he has faced justice" and insisted he would take action to speed up the extradition process if the Conservatives remain in government next year.

Mr Cameron told the BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I think it's good that he has faced justice and justice has been done.

"I think we should reflect on whether we can extradite faster.

"I think Theresa May, the Home Secretary, did a brilliant job.

"It took 10 years but Abu Hamza, off to America, and, of course, Abu Qatada, deported to Jordan.

"We have made progress in a way no government before us has made progress and we should be clear that we have got a good domestic record in terms of prosecuting and convicting people who are guilty of terrorist offences here in Britain."

He added: " I think speeding up extradition and speeding up deportation... I think we need to look at the avenues of appeal that there are and make sure that those are gone through more quickly, and we have made changes there.

"Obviously, we also need to look, as I've said many times, at the European Convention on Human Rights and the position that we have got to get into where, if someone threatens our country, we should be able to deport them if they have no right to be here and that is absolutely essential that we restore that.

"We have taken some big steps but I plan to take more steps if I'm elected as a Conservative Prime Minister after the next election."

Egyptian-born Hamza led the Finsbury Park Mosque in the 1990s, reportedly attended by both September 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and shoe bomber Richard Reid, though the cleric denied ever having met them.

He later spread violent messages there following the attacks of September 11 2001.

The 56-year-old preacher was jailed in the UK for seven years for soliciting murder and inciting racial hatred in 2006 and first faced an extradition request from the Americans in 2004.

After a protracted legal battle he was extradited to the US in October 2012.

Hamza will be sentenced on September 8, three days before the 13th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, and faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Three Britons and an Australian were killed in 1998 in Yemen when they were among 16 tourists seized by armed terrorists and taken hostage.

Following Hamza's conviction, Laurence Whitehouse, who was among the hostages and whose wife, Margaret, was one of the Britons shot dead, spoke of his relief at the court's decision.

He told the Daily Telegraph: "This has taken a long time, even though there was evidence of his involvement early on. We could have had less trouble and strife in the world if effective action had been taken against him earlier."

Another of the hostages, Eric Firkins, 70, told the Telegraph: "The worst thing, coming back from Yemen, was finding it had all been organised in north London. For years I saw him on the television every day, a free man who was still spouting hatred. Now I can parcel it up."