Compensation awards totalling nearly £23,000 for a group of foreign terror suspects including Abu Qatada have been condemned as "disgusting".

The European Court of Human Rights handed Qatada - once described as "Osama bin Laden's right hand man in Europe" - £2,500 and similar sums to eight other men.

Strasbourg judges ruled the Government's policy of detaining the men without trial in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in 2001 had breached their human rights.

The men, who were arrested and taken to Belmarsh high security prison, were also handed costs of £53,000 - bringing the total bill to nearly £75,000.

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said of Qatada: "This man hates everything Britain stands for, so it is disgusting that ordinary taxpayers are now forced to pay him thousands of pounds. We should have slung him out years ago as soon as his outrageous views became clear."

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said: "Whilst I am very disappointed with any award, I recognise the court has made substantially lower awards than these men sought in view of the fact these measures were devised in the face of a public emergency."

Awarding cash sums to nine out of 11 terror suspects who brought the case, the human rights judges said the amounts were "substantially lower" than previous awards for unlawful detention because the measures were created to combat a public emergency.

The ruling follows yesterday's Law Lords judgment that Qatada can be sent back to Jordan where he has been convicted on terror charges.

Britain's highest court rejected claims by the firebrand cleric, whose hate sermons were found on videos in the flat of one of the 9/11 bombers, that he would face torture if returned to his country of birth.

Qatada is also appealing against that ruling to the European Court of Human Rights - a case likely to take months or even years.