The cat, Theresa May and what the courts really said

Lots has been written about the cat that did, didn’t, did, didn’t help stop someone being deported. The best analysis and summary I’ve seen of what the legal system really decided in the case and on what basis is the one over on the UK Human Rights blog. Well worth a read.

But if you want a short version: the Home Office messed up by failing to follow its own rules. A cynic might suggest the cat provides a rather convenient alibi…

Read more by or more about .
This entry was posted in News.
Bookmark the web address for this page or use the short url http://ldv.org.uk/25520 for Twitter and emails.

29 Comments

  • Regardless of the real facts behind May’s cat gaffe, the moronic readers of the Sun and the Mail will now be firmly convinced that the way for immigrants to avoid deportation is to take refuge behind the hated human rights act and buy a cat. These will be the same people who have become convinced that the way to remove Britain’s deficit is for them to pay off their personal credit cards. Shame on the Liberal Liberal Democrats for continuing to maintain these red neck Tories in power without a mandate.

  • Matthew Huntbach 6th Oct '11 - 10:50pm

    The facts seem to me to be very clear – a man was saved from deportation because he had formed a close personal relationship with another human being who has a right of residence here. It just happened that the joint possession of a cat was one piece of evidence for that, not the main piece, just one piece. Well, I am sure if any of us needed to demonstrate before a court that we were in love with someone else, what we might bring out in evidence to show that may well, when taken in isolation out of this context, look somewhat ridiculous.

    It seems to me to be clear that the Home Secretary intended in her speech to give the impression that the mere ownership of a cat, nothing else, was enough to save a man from deportation. If that was not her intention, then if she is a decent woman, she should apologise for saying something so misleading. Otherwise, she is a liar. She has told in public what, without such a clarification is a lie, about something which is her direct responsibility as Home Secretary. I do not believe that is acceptable. Politicians who tell blatant lies about their areas of responsibility are expect to resign. So Thereas May MUST now either apologise or resign.

    If Theresa May does neither, and is supported in that by the Prime Minister, I do not believe our party can in any decency remain part of the government. How can we possibly be part of a government where the holder of one of the most senior governement posts tells blatant lies about an area of her responsibility, and is supported in doing so by the Prime Minister? The mere telling of such a lie is bad enough, but this lie was told in an argument against something that has long been a core part of our party belief – that there should be a document laying out Human Rights to which the governemnt is expected to keep.

    So, should our party let this be, I regret I can no longer actively support it, at least at natioal level. If Theresa May remains as Home Secretary and Nick Clegg does not demand either her apology or her resignation, I shall no longer actively campaign for ther Liberal Democrats in national elections. I regard this matter as that serious.

  • Anthony Binder 7th Oct '11 - 7:48am

    @Matthew, excellent put, I agree with Matthew

  • @Matthew – May’s been made to look so stupid over this that I doubt that even if she apologised she might not make it past the first reshuffle. Fact is, Nick has made it perfectly clear where our party stands on this and what his views are, as has (ironically) Ken Clarke. I don’t think the fact that May suffered a major case of foot in mouth disease changes that.

  • @Matthew Huntbach

    too see you come out so strongly on this, I am pleasantly surprised though, especially since you have written something so passionately that I agree with for once lol :-)

    It’s refreshing to see a Libdem taking a strong moral stance on something that has always been a policy of core liberal democrat support

  • Sadly no mention of the victims of these foreign criminals, who are often in the country illegally, operate out side the rules having no driving licenses when killing innocents on the road or ruin lives through murder and rape, but can make a woman pregnant or form a temporary relationship and remain in the country. Who pays for the family when they are in jail, who pay for their stay in jail and are they really contributing to to the benefit of thier ‘family’ or society.
    Does their country of origin have no responsibility for them.. Sad to see so much cruelty, torture and heartache meted out onto victims, lets also stand up for thier human rights. Universal human rights are a great idea but lets take them from the hands of the criminals by at least closing the legal loopholes.

  • Malcolm Todd 7th Oct '11 - 12:11pm

    “Universal human rights are a great idea but lets take them from the hands of the criminals” – ah, there we have it. Universal human rights are fine, so long as they aren’t actually universal or rights. Long live Kenneth Clarke! :shock:

  • Malcolm Todd 7th Oct '11 - 12:18pm

    Hm, having burned myself with this sort of thing before, perhaps I’d better point out that “Universal human rights are fine, so long as they aren’t actually universal or rights.” was meant as an ironic representation of the views of those like Steve to demonstrate their ridiculousness, not an endorsement of them.

    Sic transiit humor in araneo mundi.

  • Matthew said: “If Theresa May remains as Home Secretary and Nick Clegg does not demand either her apology or her resignation, I shall no longer actively campaign for ther Liberal Democrats in national elections. I regard this matter as that serious.”

    Look, the Tories hold the most seats in the Commons, the general public voted for them a great deal more than they voted for the LibDems! LD’s only have 57 out of 650(ish?) MPs. The Tories want to get rid of the Human Rights Act, in fact, they seem to hate it. It was in their manifesto to get rid of it. More people voted for them.

    Baring in mind that this is the situation, why on earth do you care if she apologies or not? We know where the Tories stand on this issue and she has made her opinion very clear on it. The Lib Dems, and Nick Clegg’s, priority is to fight FOR the HRA. If during this Parliament the Lib Dems win this big argument, then that will be fantastic. Why on earth does the apology matter? Clegg couldn’t have spoken more clearly on this issue. Throwing his toys out the pram over one comment would not be the right thing to do. To win the argument in Government is the key thing here.

    If Clegg wins this argument, it will be yet another excellent reason why the Coalition was a good thing. The option is either a Tory minority Govt who scrap the HRA (Labour have slagged it off since the day it was formed and I imagine many would support the Tories) or a Con/Lib Govt that doesn’t scrap it. Surely that’s the important thing here? Not the apology?!

    Otherwise you would be left in a situation where you have left the party despite them achieving something that clearly is hugely important to you!

    Just my opinion. :)

  • Matthew Huntbach 7th Oct '11 - 1:05pm

    KL

    @Matthew – May’s been made to look so stupid over this that I doubt that even if she apologised she might not make it past the first reshuffle.

    The newspapers today are reporting that Ken Clarke is the one to be shuffled out – for telling the truth about this issue. This is DISGUSTING!!! There is just NO WAY I could support a governemnt which sacks someone for telling the truth. And if our party leaders cannot see that, I am DISGUSTED with them to the point I cannot wish to remain an active memebr of the party while they lead it.

  • Matthew Huntbach 7th Oct '11 - 1:21pm

    Apologies – I missed a close italcs quote in my previous reply – the first para is a quote of KL’s, the second is my reply to that.

    Tom

    Look, the Tories hold the most seats in the Commons, the general public voted for them a great deal more than they voted for the LibDems! LD’s only have 57 out of 650(ish?) MPs. The Tories want to get rid of the Human Rights Act, in fact, they seem to hate it. It was in their manifesto to get rid of it. More people voted for them.

    Yes, and I myself have made clear up till now that I accepted the coalition because it is what the people of this country voted for, both in 2010 and in the 2011 referendum when they voted in favour of the electoral system whose distortions made it the only viable one after a campaign in which the victorious side expclicitly raised this distortion as the main argument in their favour.


    Baring in mind that this is the situation, why on earth do you care if she apologies or not?

    Because she told a blatant lie in a public speech about an aspect of government policy for which she has overall responsibility. This is unacceptable – it is a basic principle that politicians who tell blatant lies resign. I am asking for an apology only because there is the possibility that she did not know the details of the case or really did not mean what she said to be interepreted as the words she used come out – that merely owning a cat means the Human Rights Acrt will stop you being deported. If she apologised, I would be satisifed, but I think it would still mean that if she were an honourable person she shoudl resign for getting this so wrong and so misleading the public by doing that.

    I do not believe the Liberal Democrats, if they are a decent party, can let this go. Did the people of this country in 2010 vote for a government where senior ministers can tell lies about the very things they are responsible for, and a minister who points out it is a lie faces the sack for that? I think not, so if there is no move from the Cameron to force an apology from May or to sack her, our party MUST pull out of the coalition and ask for the people to reconsider whatever government they may want, bearing in mind the Conservative Party has been exposed as a party where telling lies is considered fine and telling the truth is considered a sackable offence.

    If lying like this is allowed with no punishment or official mark of same on the liar, we do NOT live in a democracy, for how can people cast their votes in a way which reflects what they would really want if they cannot rely on senior politicians to tell the truth?

  • Matthew Huntbach 7th Oct '11 - 1:30pm

    Steve

    Sadly no mention of the victims of these foreign criminals, who are often in the country illegally, operate out side the rules having no driving licenses when killing innocents on the road or ruin lives through murder and rape, but can make a woman pregnant or form a temporary relationship and remain in the country

    This is completely irrelevant to the issue at hand. Even if I wanted to see the HRA scrapped I would take exactly the same stand. The issue is that the Home Secretary gave a speech in which it was very obvious her intention was to make people believe one thing (that the mere ownership of a cat saves one from deportation) when the truth was completely different (that the issue was the formation of a strong human relationship with another, in which the cat was just a small piece of evidence alongside much other evidence that was more important to the case). That is, she told a lie for political reasons. That is unacceptable – I do not believe it to be acceptable to tell a lie whether the lie is told in support of a policy I would oppose or in support of a policy I would endorse. Even if May told a lie about a court case where the person was a cruel child abuser, it would be unacceptable because it was a lie – and more so a lie about an issue where she as Home Secretary is in charge. The main issue is the lie – politicians who lie, and in particular lie about basic aspects of their own job, must resign or be sacked. End of story.

  • Old Codger Chris 7th Oct '11 - 1:32pm

    It’s no accident that Ken Clarke is quite old – us oldies tend to adopt a “what the hell?” approach as we contemplate that final journey. As for sacking the person who tells the truth – that’s just what large organisations do.

  • Okay Matthew, fair enough.

    But I would prefer the Lib Dems get their way and no apology, rather than they don’t get their way but we get an apology. I worried that the LibDems making a huge issue out of this one sentence could potentially jeapodise the Government behind scenes negotiatians.

  • I read on Left Foot Forward that Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander approved Theresa May’s speech.

    http://www.leftfootforward.org/2011/10/theresa-may-cat-anecdote-fail/

  • It seems Theresa May had an impeccable source.

    Nigel Farage, July 2011:
    The man “should not be deported because – and I really am not making this up – he had a pet cat”.

    Theresa May, October 2011:
    The man “cannot be deported because – and I am not making this up – he had a pet cat”.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/oct/07/theresa-may-cat-ukip-leader?newsfeed=true

    What an achievement this government is.

  • >I read on Left Foot Forward that Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander approved Theresa May’s speech.

    Do you have a source for that claim beyond a blog repeating what some unknown bloke alleges on Twitter?

    Why would the chief secretary to the Treasury have any say in what a Conservative home secretary told her party conference?

  • GG – please don’t tell me you believe these lies!? hahaha

  • It was widely reported this morning in the Guardian and on the BBC that her speech was agreed by Clegg and Alexander. What were they thinking!!!!!!!

  • If Clegg and Alexander “approved” May’s speech then surely that suggests that Cameron and Osbourne approved Clegg’s speech. Are we now in a situation where our leader cannot say something to our confernence without the leader of an opposing party having a veto? I very much doubt that.

    I think the use of the word approved is the dodgy one. “Were shown” might be more accurate. Or possibly were consulted on the broad outline (eg told that May was going to make an attack on the HRA but not given a line by line opportunity to comment).

  • Andrew Suffield 8th Oct '11 - 12:42am

    The facts seem to me to be very clear – a man was saved from deportation because he had formed a close personal relationship with another human being who has a right of residence here

    Actually, no. That should have been the case (it was in the initial findings), but what happened here is even sillier and casts May’s speech in a rather different light.

    This man’s deportation case was finally rejected by the courts because the Home Office screwed up, failed to follow their own rules, and failed to act for four years after his right to remain had expired. The same Home Office which is headed by Theresa May.

    So, what we really have here is “Home Secretary makes up a ridiculous story about a cat in order to cover up her own ministry’s error and public humiliation by the court”.

  • @Hywel:
    Are we now in a situation where our leader cannot say something to our confernence without the leader of an opposing party having a veto? I very much doubt that.

    Yes. It was reported that the Tories had to approve some LibDem speeches at your conference as well.

  • Matthew Huntbach 8th Oct '11 - 10:15am

    Hywel

    I think the use of the word approved is the dodgy one. “Were shown” might be more accurate. Or possibly were consulted on the broad outline (eg told that May was going to make an attack on the HRA but not given a line by line opportunity to comment).

    Yes, there is an ambiguity in the word “approved” here, but I don’t think that just “were shown” fits what would be legitimate in a coalition situatiion. I would not expect ministers of different parties to approve each others speeches in the sense of agreeing with the opinions expressed. It is an essential part of democracy that one may disagree with one’s colleagues and one may express that disagreement in public. However, I would expect colleagues in a joint enterprise within democracy to exercise some collegial responsibility. I would expect such collegial responsibility to include the right to check a speech for falling below acceptable standards of democracy, and that would certainly include asking a colleague, even of a different party, to remove outright lies. So the word “approve” here would be used in a more limited sense which does not extend to mere expression of opinion.

    I would have no problem with Theresa May’s standards (although I would have considerable problems with her opinions) had she launched into a furious attack on the Human Rights Act, but been factual in the evidence she brought to further her case. My problem here is that the words she used are so far removed from the facts of the case that either she was very badly misinformed, or she was deliberately intending to make people believe something very far from the actuality. If it was a case of being misinformed, it is an extremely serious matter because this is on an issue which it is her direct responsibility as Home Secretary. If she knew the facts of the case – and she most certainly OUGHT to have done in making a speech in which she brought in this example from her own area of responsibility – then the natural interpretation most people would make of her words is so far from the truth that I believe “lie” is a perfectly acceptable word for it.

    If this speech were checked over by Nick Clegg and/or Danny Alexander, I feel it would have been not just legitimate but their duty to ask her for clarification over this claim that the Human Rights Act means that merely owning a pet saves one from deportation. It is, of course, well known that amongst the right-wing in this country (including most of the press) stupid stories like this circulate which are so very far from the truth. If Clegg and/or Alexander and/or those doing the checking on their behalf had any competence, they would have spotted this and, knowing how thee stupid stories circulate, said “Can you verify your point here?”. If she could not, the advice should have been “I think you had better do that before going ahead with this speech”. If she gave the true facts of this matter, then the advice should have been “Sorry, that is so far from the truth that I regard it as a lie, and it is my duty as your colleague to say that while we differ in opinions and agree we can be public on that, I cannot accept that you go out and tell an outright lie in a major public speech”.

    Whatever, the speech has now been made and what I believe is an outright lie has been told by the Home Secretary about something which falls under her responsibility. I believe the collective nature of governent means all her government colleagues must either take the position that they accept the telling of this lie as legitimate politics – in which case I am completely disgusted with all of them – or they ask her at the very least to apologise for being so misleading. If she refuses to apologise and she is backed up by the majority of her government colleagues, then I believe there is no choice for anyone who is a decent person and so regards this telling of a lie as unacceptable but to tender their resignation from the government.

    This may be a small matter in itself, but I do see it as a very basic matter of principle. I simply cannot be a supporter of leading members of our party if by inaction on this matter they endorse the telling of an outright lie by a government minster on an area of her direct responsibility. I have already written to the Chair of my local party about this. While it will not lead to my resignation from the party, if there is no action taken by Clegg and others at the top against May, I shall no longer be able to put my efforts into active promotion of the party nationally so long as they remain at its top. I shall, in effect, regard myself as a “Liberal Democrat on strike”.

  • Tony Dawson 8th Oct '11 - 12:41pm

    Those of us who have to deal with Immigration/Asylum matters week-in, week-out, recognise that not only are UK laws sometimes illegal (under treaty obligations etc), they are often applied incompetently in a way which only creates further tying-up of government resources, which makes the UKBA even more inefficient, which leads to further delays in dealing with outstanding cases, which makes it more likely that people who did not start with a particularly good case in law to stay here end up with a much better one.

    One of the reasons why compulsory adult electoral registration is important is that it gives the government half a chance (a kind of mini-census) to find out who is where in this country.If only they were geared up to do something with the information! By far the biggest ‘human rights’ pressure on the UK to finally ‘admit’ people to settle here who we would not have wished to settle here originally is the fact that we’ve kept them dangling on a string for years, often losing their paperwork in the process, so that the UK really has become the only home they know.,

  • My specific reference was to’ foreign crminals’, who have bee found guilty of some the most serious crimes in a court of law, perhaps only a few individuals per year in total. Nothing to do with your average person who has overstayed their visa or an illegal immigrants who have harmed no one. These few cases may be difficult to deal legally with but should not be ignored/

    I did not mention migrants or overstayers. Thank god for Tony Dawson giving us a level headed pragmatic approach highligting where the problems lie in the current UKBA systems. I believe the coaltion have a commission of experts to look into the human rights issue, why not wait and see what they come up with ?

    Not sure what right and left means thesedays but clearly open discussion of controversial issues if off limits

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?




Recent Comments

  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 31st Aug - 6:34am
    A liberal revival needs to involve Lib Dems listening to each other and the public more. I don't always succeed at this, but it is...
  • User AvatarDan Falchikov 31st Aug - 2:04am
    Five former target seats in there...
  • User AvatarLiberal Al 31st Aug - 1:38am
    I am NOT trying to say I think the West handled this situation well (worst Freudian slip ever, haha.)
  • User AvatarLiberal Al 31st Aug - 1:34am
    @Jedi, yes, the Telegraph, that most enlightened of newspapers on energy policy. @John, warmongering West? I think this shows John that basically you have allowed...
  • User AvatarSimon 31st Aug - 12:59am
    Community politics is NOT community activism. Please read the original pamphlet online.
  • User AvatarLiberal Al 31st Aug - 12:41am
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-politics/10214326/One-to-watch-Why-political-campaigner-Daisy-Cooper-is-going-places.html An interesting article on this very articulate candidate. This really is a tough presidency campaign, but I like the focus of this positive article...