Hate cleric Abu Qatada could be back on the streets within weeks as the row over botched efforts to deport him continued to rage.
An immigration judge said he would reconsider bail if the fanatic’s removal from Britain was not ‘imminent’.
The ruling was a further blow to embattled Home Secretary Theresa May as she continued to insist there had been no blunder by her officials over Qatada’s case.
Backbench Tory MPs demanded Britain’s withdrawal from the European Court of Human Rights.
In an exchange with Mrs May, Tory MP Charles Walker said: ‘You must not delay in getting this scumbag and his murderous mates on a plane out of this country. And in so doing would you send a metaphorical two fingers to the ECHR?’
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper taunted Mrs May for ‘partying with X Factor judges’ while the Government’s case collapsed after she was pictured at a glitzy celebrity party attended by Tulisa Contostavlos, as well as Kelly Brook and Lorraine Kelly.
Miss Cooper also warned the ‘farce had serious consequences’ and raised the prospect of Qatada suing the Government for wrongful arrest.
On Tuesday Mrs May ordered his arrest and told the Commons the time period for a further legal claim had passed. But Strasbourg officials last night repeated their belief that the true deadline was midnight on Tuesday night and the case was lodged ‘just in time’.
David Cameron exposed his own powerlessness over the affair, saying: ‘I sometimes wish I could put him on a plane and take him to Jordan myself.’
The prospect of the radical cleric walking the streets again only a short time after he was put back in Belmarsh high-security prison will horrify the public.
After his arrest on Tuesday he appeared before the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, a special terror court, and was remanded to the jail.
But in a ruling released yesterday, judge Mr Justice Mitting said: ‘If it is obvious after two or three weeks have elapsed that deportation is not imminent… then I will reconsider bail along the basis of a more leisurely timetable than that necessarily required for a full-blown appeal to SIAC.’
Justice Secretary Ken Clarke said he could not see what the ‘big deal was’ over the apparent blunder.
Called to the Commons to explain the affair, Mrs May said: ‘The Government is clear that Qatada has no right to refer the case to the Grand Chamber of the ECHR since the three-month deadline to do so lapsed at midnight on Monday.’
She was given strong support from the Tory backbenches, but MPs also insisted she should defy the European Court of Human Rights anyway.
Bill Cash, chairman of the European Scrutiny Committee, said: ‘You have tried your best, there is no question about that. But unfortunately it is not working.
'The root cause of this is the question of what is the rule of law, whose rule of law and who interprets it?
‘It should be decided in this House. We should withdraw from the European Convention, we should repeal the Human Rights Act and we should get the matter straight because the people of this country demand it.’
Labour seized on comments from an ECHR spokesman which confirmed its view that the deadline was Tuesday.
A panel of five judges of the court will make a final ruling on admissibility, but that could be several months away.