BBC apologises to Queen for revealing Abu Hamza conversation

The BBC has apologised to the Queen for revealing that she demanded an explanation for the Labour government's failure to arrest Islamic extremist Abu Hamza.

The BBC's security correspondent Frank Gardner told Radio 4's Today programme that the Queen was so "upset" that the radical cleric was still free to preach in the UK, she asked a former home secretary why action could not be taken.

However, because Mr Gardner had learned of the comments in a private conversation with the Monarch, his revelation constituted a breach of royal protocol.

"The Queen was pretty upset that there was no way to arrest him. She couldn't understand - surely there must be some law that he broke," the BBC correspondent had said.

"She spoke to the Home Secretary at the time and said, 'surely this man must have broken some laws, my goodness, why is he still at large?'"

Asked how he knew the views of the Queen the respected BBC correspondent simply answered: "She told me."

He has since expressed "deep regret" over the comments and the Corporation has written to Buckingham Palace to apologise for the "breach of confidence".

Abu Hamza was eventually charged with offences under the Terrorism Act in October 2004, and sentenced to seven years in prison.

He, along with four other terror suspects now face extradition to the US after the European Court of Human Rights threw out their case to stay in Britain yesterday.

The extradition case has been running since 2004, but this ruling puts it to an end and means the group could be on a place out of Britain in the next few days.

Last night the Home Office pledged to remove Hamza and the other suspects "as quickly as possible".