Theresa May in deportation cat flap

Theresa May MP Theresa May has stirred up a furore over a pet cat that saved a South American man from deportation

When a politician tells a conference "I am not making this up" it's usually a good reason to double check the facts.

And within minutes of Theresa May's comment that a pet cat had saved a South American man from deportation we heard disbelieving voices.

The problem for Mrs May was that those pouring scorn on her claim included representatives of Britain's top judges and her Conservative colleague Ken Clarke.

He told a fringe meeting: "I've never had a conversation on the subject with Theresa, so I'd have to find out about these strange cases she is throwing out."

"They are British cases and British judges she is complaining about.

"I'll have a small bet with her that nobody has ever been refused deportation on the grounds of the ownership of a cat."

Claws 4 moment

Let's remind ourselves of exactly what the Home Secretary said.

She was arguing against article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and this was her Claws 4 moment (sorry!):

"The illegal immigrant who cannot be deported because - I am not making this up - he had a pet cat."

But the Judicial Communications Office, who says the case was first publicised more than two years ago, flatly contradicted this.

"This was a case in which the Home Office conceded that they had mistakenly failed to apply their own policy - applying at that time to that appellant - for dealing with unmarried partners of people settled in the UK," said a judicial communications office statement issued at the time of the case.

"That was the basis for the decision to uphold the original tribunal decision - the cat had nothing to do with the decision."

Work out what you think for yourself. You can download the original judgement here

Theresa May's heels Theresa May's kitten heels also attracted public attention

The London based solicitor who dealt with the original case, Barry O'Leary, says his phone is now ringing off the hook - and he couldn't be clearer about the case.

"It was accepted by the Home Office representative at the hearing before Immigration Judge Gleeson that the policy should apply and any other errors in the initial decision by the judge (including too much detail on the cat) were immaterial."

"See paragraph 6 of the determination. It makes clear that it is the former policy DP3/96 which is the basis on which the appeal was won."

This is clearly a story with (furry) legs. Mrs May found herself staked out by TV camera crews as she tried to conduct local radio interviews, including one with BBC Berkshire's Phil Kennedy and me.

She's standing by her conference comments.

And she told me she's looking forward to eating the dinner that the Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has wagered.

She's insisting she has no regets about the feline tale.

It's got her more attention than her kitten heels ever did.

Peter Henley, Political editor, South of England Article written by Peter Henley Peter Henley Political editor, South of England


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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Typical Britain-hating Daily Mail reading right wing mentality.....

    If you can't find an actual example to underline how rubbish Britain is,simply make one up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    As HYS closed the other thread

    "Whether or not the "cat" story is correct, is hardly the point, the HRA is abused widely,"

    Actually it is a very important point. If she cannot get that right then how can we trust her knowledge on more crucial matters. If it had been one of Labour saying this May's apologists on here, and Cameron and co., would have been screaming for the ministers dismissal.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    Shock!!! The Conservative Party and the truth are strangers!

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Instead of scrapping the law why not investigate how it is handled in other countries.

    The law isn't wrong. It is its interpretation by our courts that is the problem. Other countries don't appear to have the same issues so it would appear our judges do not use the built in discretion as others have suggested on here that they could. Why?

    And why has this been moved from the news page story ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    I encourage everyone to try reading the Human Rights Act for themselves rather than complaining about the imaginary Daily Mail version.

    It's time there was an honest conversation about what Britain wants and needs from immigration, and what we don't. Complaining about human rights and encouraging mistrust in our communities is no way to run a government.


Comments 5 of 143


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