Jordanian terror suspect Abu Qatada has lost an attempt to appeal against deportation heard by Europe's top human rights judges.
The ruling clears the way for UK deportation proceedings against the radical cleric, described by a judge as Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe, to continue.
Home Secretary Theresa May said: "I am pleased by the European court's decision. The Qatada case will now go through the British courts."
A panel of five judges rejected Qatada's bid to have his appeal heard by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights.
Mrs May came under intense pressure following Qatada's appeal
However the panel ruled his application was made in time, according to a spokesman for the Council of Europe, which runs the court.
Qatada lodged a last-minute appeal to the court on April 17, claiming he faced the threat of torture in Jordan.
But Mrs May has rejected the claim and said: "I am confident the assurances we have from Jordan mean we can put Abu Qatada on a plane and get him out of Britain."
The cleric's legal move came hours after the Home Secretary started attempts to have Qatada deported from Britain by late April.
She came under intense political pressure over claims the Home Office had miscalculated the appeal deadline date.
The decision by the panel of five judges means Mrs May was wrong when she claimed the three-month appeal deadline from the court's original decision on January 17 expired on the night of April 16.
The radical cleric was arrested ahead of the deportation move in April
Qatada's lawyers lodged his appeal late on the night of April 17, which the judges ruled was in time.
A spokesman for the court said: "The panel found that the request had been submitted within the three-month time limit for such requests.
"However, it considered that the request should be refused."
Mrs May is now likely to reject any application by Qatada's lawyers to revoke his deportation order - meaning he could be on a plane within weeks.
If the Home Secretary also issues a certificate saying any application by Qatada to revoke the deportation order was "clearly unfounded", his lawyers would then possibly make an application to the High Court for a judicial review.
A review could be decided "in a very few weeks", according to a source.
But if not, Qatada's legal team could appeal against her decision not to revoke the deportation order to a senior immigration judge at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission and the process could still take "many months".