London, Sep 25: The BBC has apologised for revealing that the Queen had raised concerns over why Abu Hamza had not been arrested, The Telegraph reported Tuesday.
The corporation’s security correspondent Frank Gardner claimed in a conversation he had with the Queen several years ago, she had spoken of her frustration that Hamza was still at liberty and spreading messages of hatred.
He said she also revealed she had raised the issue with the home secretary of the time.
It is not known when the conversation took place but the hate cleric was arrested on charges under the Terrorism Act in late 2004.
But within hours of Gardner’s revelations, the BBC wrote to Buckingham Palace apologising for breaching the confidence of the Queen in a private conversation.
It said the comments were “wholly inappropriate” and that Gardner “deeply regretted” the breach and was “extremely sorry”.
Former home secretaries contacted over the issue have all said it would be inappropriate to discuss any private conversations they had had with the Queen.
The BBC said it quickly realised its error and issued the apology. A spokesman said it was not the result of any complaint from Buckingham Palace.
The letter said: “This morning on the Today programme our correspondent Frank Gardner revealed details of a private conversation which took place some years ago with the Queen.”
“The conversation should have remained private and the BBC and Frank deeply regret this breach of confidence. It was wholly inappropriate.”
“Frank is extremely sorry for the embarrassment caused and has apologised to the Palace.”
Earlier, Gardner had said the Queen was so “upset” about the Islamist extremist being allowed to preach his message of hate in Britain that she asked a former home secretary to explain why he was still at large.
Hamza and four other terror suspects are facing extradition to America within days after the European Court of Human Rights Monday rejected their appeal to stay in Britain.
Hamza, who lost both hands and an eye fighting the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, is charged in the US with 11 counts relating to the taking of 16 hostages in Yemen in 1998, advocating jihad in Afghanistan and conspiring to set up a jihad training camp in US.
The US first requested his extradition in 2004. The process was put on hold when Hamza was charged in Britain with 15 offences under the Terrorism Act.
In 2006 he was found guilty on 11 charges, including inciting murder and race hate, and was jailed for seven years.