LONDON - The British Law Lords on Wednesday ruled in favour of the UK govt over its attempts to deport a renowned Muslim cleric Abu Qatada, known as the right hand man of Osama bin Ladin in Europe. According to the ruling, the cleric can be deported from the UK to Jordan despite fears he may be tortured. British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith immediately signed a deportation order to be served on Qatada today. Human rights groups described the ruling as a "step backwards in the international fight against torture". The law lords backed the Home Office's challenge against a court of appeal ruling that Qatada could not be deported because he might not receive fair treatment in Jordan, where he claimed evidence against him had been extracted by torture. They ruled in favour of the government in its attempts to deport two other men, named only as RB and U, to Algeria. All three men might now take their case to the European court of human rights, which could take 18 months to two years. Jacqui Smith said: "I'm delighted with the lords' decision today in the cases of Abu Qatada, 48, and the two Algerians. It highlights the threat these individuals pose to our nation's security and vindicates our efforts to remove them. My top priority is to protect public safety and ensure national security and I have signed Abu Qatada's deportation order which will be served on him today. I am keen to deport this dangerous individual as soon as I can." Jordan is one of a number of countries with which the UK has signed a "memorandum of understanding" that the Home Office insists will ensure any deported suspects do not face torture or ill-treatment. In a 105-page written ruling, Lord Phillips, sitting with Lords Hoffmann, Hope, Brown and Mance, said there were no reasonable grounds for believing that Qatada would be denied a fair trial in Jordan, which has banned the use in its courts of evidence extracted by torture. Hoffmann said in the judgment: "There is in my opinion no authority for a rule that ... the risk of the use of evidence obtained by torture necessarily amounts to a flagrant denial of justice." Lord Hope said "care, time and trouble" had been devoted to assessing whether the suspects could be returned to their home countries. "No one, however dangerous, however disgusting, however despicable, is excluded (from the European convention on human rights). Those who have no respect for the rule of law - even those who would seek to destroy it - are in the same position as everyone else."