Home secretary Theresa May has insisted that the European Courts of Human Rights (ECHR) should throw out Abu Qatada's appeal against deportation as he has "no right" to ask for the appeal to be referred.

May was forced to make a Commons statement over the confusion surrounding the appeal deadline for Qatada in answer to a demand by shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper.

May repeated her assertion that the application made by Qatada's lawyers appeared after the three-month deadline set by the ECHR had passed and he was arrested.

May said: "The government is clear that Abu Qatada has no right to refer the case to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights since the three-month deadline to do so lapsed at midnight on Monday."

"The government has written to the European court to make clear our case that the application should be rejected because it is out of time."

Following the radical cleric's arrest on Tuesday, his lawyers launched an appeal to the ECHR, effectively delaying any moves to deport him to Jordan where he is wanted on terror charges.

May was adamant that the appeal was nothing more than a delaying tactic. Qatada has managed to avoid being deported from Britain since 2001.

"As you would expect, we have been in touch with the European court over the last three months to check our understanding.

"They were absolutely clear that we were operating on the basis that it was midnight on April 16."

Cooper attacked the whole process during the debate saying how the latest appeal has turned the procedure to attempt to deport Qatada into a farce.

Cooper said: "When the home secretary is accused of not knowing what day of the week it is, chaos and confusion have turned into farce."