Dominic Raab set out plans to water down Human Rights protections for Brits today – citing a misleading, decade old case as evidence for the need to ‘overhaul’ the law.
The facts of the case were not exactly as Mr Raab suggested in his speech.
And it came almost ten years to the day after Theresa May sparked fury by falsely claiming a man had been protected from deportation because he had a cat.
The newly minted Justice Secretary used his speech to Conservative Party Conference to complain that laws were being “abused” by “dangerous criminals”.
And he claimed “a drug dealer convicted of beating his ex-partner, a man who hadn’t paid maintenance for his daughter, then successfully claimed the right to family life to avoid deportation”.
The criminal in question was Trinidadian-born Asim Parris. Then-home secretary Theresa May had originally ordered Parris’ deportation in 2008 after he had been jailed for 18 months for possession of cocaine with intent to supply.
A year earlier, he had been convicted of battery against his partner and given a suspended sentence.
But his argument to be prevented from deportation was not based on his former partner or daughter, but on his being 21 years old and having lived in the UK since he was four.
He appealed and in 2009 the Immigration Tribunal allowed him to stay, noting he had “close family in this country including his mother, sisters, brother, cousin, nieces and nephews, uncle and aunt”.
And at the original appeal, his former partner told the tribunal that while they were no longer in a relationship he was a “good and caring father” and the judges said she and Parris “appear[ed] to be on good terms”.
The Home Office appealed the ruling, but the Court of Appeal eventually ruled the original judgement that he should be allowed to stay in the UK was upheld.
The three judges hearing the case at the Court of Appeal made no findings about the tribunal’s assessment of the facts, and only examined whether it had applied the correct law – a position that the Home Office’s own lawyer agreed with.
Mr Raab said in his speech: “It is absolutely perverse that someone guilty of domestic abuse could claim the right to family life to trump the public’s interest in deporting him from this country,” he added.
“We’ve got to bring this nonsense to an end.”
Ten years ago yesterday, Theresa May faced fury over a false claim about a criminal being protected from deportation because he had a pet cat.
Then Home Secretary, Mrs May said in a Tory conference speech: We all know the stories… about the illegal immigrant who cannot be deported because, and I am not making this up, he had a pet cat.”
Within minutes of the speech, the Judicial Office at the Royal Courts of Justice had pointed out that it was untrue, and that “the cat had nothing to do with the decision.”