Theresa May spoke today at the Conservative Party Conference about her desire to abolish the Human Rights Act
BBC footage shows Theresa May citing an example of an "illegal immigrant who cannot be deported because he had a pet cat". She goes on to state that this is why she holds the view that the "Human Rights Act needs to go".
Theresa May, Home Secretary listed numerous examples where the Human Rights Act had supposedly led to 'ludicrous' immigration decisions by the Home Office.
"We all know the stories..."
Many of us will be aware of these stories, but the fact is, they simply are not true. The example of the man with a pet cat was reported thus in the Daily Mail: An illegal immigrant was allowed to stay in Britain because he had a cat, it was revealed [links to screen shot]. This is a quite remarkable spin on the actual story which is as follows:
A Bolivian man came to Britain as a student and appealed his deportation in 2008 on the basis of the Home Office policy that states that a person should not normally be deported if they can demonstrate they are in a relationship that is genuine and long lasting. The man in question had been in a four year relationship with his British girlfriend at the time of the appeal; he stated that they had a pet cat as one of the many pieces of evidence to support their claim of being a commited couple.
The man's solicitor, Barry O'Leary stated that his client had "never argued he should be allowed to stay on the grounds of the cat" and that "the decision to allow him to stay wasn't granted on that basis either".
Stories such as these demonstate the power of the press to sensationalise and spin a story to represent as 'fact' something that is far from it. It seems that this Daily Mail lie has seeped into public consciousness and become 'fact', so much so that May quoted the story at the Conservative Party Conference today.
The Story Behind the Headline
Show Racism the Red Card work in schools in the UK and deliver anti-racism workshops to young people. Every day, our staff face questions from school children on wide ranging issues of racism and immigration: "Is it true that we can't celebrate Christmas because it offends Muslims?"; "Do asylum seekers steal our swans?"; "Is it racist to say blackboard?"
All of these questions are based entirely on media myths that continue to be perpetuated in the press and by popular culture. In the classroom we call on young people to examine the facts behind such headlines. When leading politicians repeat this rhetoric it demonstrates just how pervasive these messages are.
Support our Human Rights
Show Racism the Red Card is extremely concerned that this Government is considering scrapping the Human Rights Act.
Ged Grebby, Chief Executive said:
"I urge everyone to support the preservation of the Human Rights Act; the removal of such human rights will negatively impact upon us all. Safeguarding our human rights is fundamental to preserving our civilised society."