The Home Secretary is travelling to the terror suspect's homeland this week to bolster the case for him to be returned there, after the European Court of Human Rights blocked the move.

But officials have suggested that her visit will just involve discussions rather than the signing of an assurance that evidence obtained through torture would not be used in a planned trial against the man once described as "Osama Bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe".

Mrs May is the only minister on the trip to the Middle East and the Home Office refused to give a "running commentary" on it yesterday, even declining to disclose her arrival date, suggesting that expectations were being kept low.

If the Government cannot show it is making progress towards deporting the extremist, his bail conditions could soon be lifted completely. Qatada is currently under curfew and must wear an electronic tag after being released from Long Lartin jail last month.

Even if an agreement is reached with Jordan about his return, appeals processes could take years and experts estimate the cost of keeping him in detention or under surveillance could soon top £3million.

However James Brokenshire, a junior Home Office minister who travelled to Jordan last month for talks over Qatada, told the Murnaghan programme on Sky News: "I think the discussion with the Jordanians were actually very, very useful. There was a strong recognition from the Jordanian government as to the responsibility they have for one of their own citizens.

"Yes, of course there are detailed legal issues that I discussed when I was in Jordan that are being worked through with our officials and lawyers, and the Home Secretary will be going out to Jordan very, very soon."

He added: "It's just working through some of the legal detail, which is why we judge it is important to get this right so when we go back to the special immigration court we can present the strongest possible case to see Qatada removed rapidly."

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