London: A cat named Maya has been caught
between two heavyweight ministers in the David Cameron
government as this week`s Conservative party conference made
more cat news than news about challenges facing Britain.
There was much cat talk and cat jokes after Home Secretary
Theresa May claimed in her speech on Tuesday that an illegal
immigrant had been allowed to stay under the Human Rights Act
on the ground that he had a cat (named Maya), which was
evidence of his having a family life in the UK.
May, who had made known her opposition to the act, 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 was ridiculed by Ken Clarke, Justice Secretary, who
said the cat had nothing to do with the judge`s decision to
allow the Bolivian individual in question to stay in Britain.
He offered May a 5 pounds bet if it were proved to be true.
As May and her deputy Damian Green read out the exact
words of the judge in the case to prove her point, Clarke
turned the screws further by calling her examples to oppose
the act "child-like and laughable".
The debate reflects the division within the Cameron
government over the fate of the Human Rights Act, with many
ministers opposing May`s desire to scrap it on the ground that
it was allegedly allowing foreign criminals to stay in the UK
under the provision of `right to family life`.
Clarke said: "It`s not only the judges that all get
furious when the Home Secretary makes a parody of a court
judgement, our commission who are helping us form our view on
this are not going to be entertained by laughable child-like
examples being given".
He added: "We have a policy and in my old-fashioned way
when you serve in a Government you express a collective policy
of the Government, you don`t go round telling everyone your
personal opinion is different".
Clarke, MP from Nottingham, told a local daily: "I sat and
listened to Theresa`s speech and I`ll have to be very polite
to Theresa when I meet her, but in my opinion she should
really address her researchers and advisers very severely for
assuring her that a complete nonsense example in her speech
Last heard, Clarke was expected to be summoned to 10
Downing Street to explain his comments against May.