UK Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has jumped to defend the nation's Human Rights laws after Home Secretary Theresa May claimed that they were responsible for blocking the deportation of an illegal immigrant because he had a pet cat
During a Conservative party conference Clarke went out of his way to pick a fight with May who said that a Bolivian immigrant escaped deportation on the grounds that he had a pet cat.
"Bolivian immigrant cannot be deported because - and I am not making this up - he had a pet cat," she said.
Clarke accused May of 'misrepresenting' human rights law, the Daily Mail reports.
"They are British cases and British judges she is complaining about. I cannot believe anybody has ever had deportation refused on the basis of owning a cat," he said.
"I'll have a small bet with her that nobody has ever been refused deportation on the grounds of the ownership as a cat," he added.
According to the paper, while the cat was not the main reason for the decision not to deport the man, the pet was explicitly mentioned by the immigration judge.
"The evidence concerning the joint acquisition of Maya (the cat) by the appellant and his partner reinforces my conclusion on the strength and quality of [their] family life," the judge said.
While the Home Office appealed against the decision and lost, the fact remains that, in the original verdict, a court allowed a migrant to stay partly because of his ownership of a cat, the paper said.
May's claims were, however, refuted by the Judicial Office who said the ruling in the case had nothing to do with the cat.
The Home Secretary had recently called for the Human Rights Act to be scrapped saying that it hinders the government's attempts to deport dangerous foreign criminals.