Clarke says cat is not to be blamed for immigrant’s non-removal
5th October 2011: The cat is out of the bag! Home Secretary allegedly quoted an immigration case out of context to substantiate her point of view on Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Article deals with the right to a ‘family life’.
Giving credence to this is the reaction to Home Secretary Theresa May’s assertion by a senior Conservative Cabinet Minister.
The case pertains to an illegal immigrant, who is said to have won the battle to stay in the UK because he had a pet cat.
It kicked off a controversy after May quoted the case in her keynote speech to the Tory conference in Manchester.
Launching a scathing attack on the use of the human rights rules to prevent foreign criminals from being deported, May said: “We all know the stories about the Human Rights Act. The violent drug dealer who cannot be sent home because his daughter, for whom he pays no maintenance, lives here; the robber who cannot be removed because he has a girlfriend; the illegal immigrant who cannot be deported because, and I am not making this up, he had a pet cat.’’
This is not the first time the case has been quoted as an instance of lacuna in the human rights law, since it surfaced two years ago.
The case involves a Bolivian illegal immigrant. He entered the UK as a student and won the right to stay after judges supported his case under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act.
The court was told the man has been with his girlfriend for four years. The judge said their joint purchase of a cat, Maya, reinforced his view that they had a strong family life.
The decision of the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal by Senior Immigration Judge Gleeson is dated 1st December 2008. In the two-and-a-half page long judgment, Judge Gleeson asserted the Immigration Judge’s determination is upheld and the cat, need no longer fear having to adapt to Bolivian mice.
Responding to May’s assertion minutes later, veteran Justice Secretary Ken Clarke at a fringe meeting mocked May’s remarks.
Clarke insisted such cases had “nothing to do with the Human Rights Act’’.
Clarke added: “They are British cases and British judges she is complaining about and I can’t believe that anybody has had deportation refused on the basis of owning a cat. I will have a small bet with her that nobody has ever been refused deportation on the grounds of owning a cat.’’
May’s aides defended her comments. Downing Street too backed her. But, May faced further pressure when the Judicial Office.
Representing senior judges, Judicial Office reissued its original statement from two years ago which said the Home Office’s failure to apply its own policy was why it lost its appeal against the decision of the original judge and “the cat had nothing to do with the decision’’.