Most people would agree that the world has a lot of serious ongoing problems right now. Many of these will prove hard to solve and some may prove impossible. With all of this in mind one would assume that the UK Conservative Party would have plenty of serious business to occupy them this week, at their Party annual conference, this year held in Manchester.
It seems though that one of the most headline grabbing debates at conference involved a Bolivian man's cat.
TEK reported earlier this week on the saga involving the cat, Home Secretary Theresa May and a Bolivian man living in the UK. Now it seems that there was perhaps some truth in her initial claims.
May claimed that the man had been saved from deportation, by way of the Human Rights Act, because he owned a cat. A series of interviews and debates followed in which some claimed the judge had merely said the cat added to the evidence that the man was building a stable family life in the UK.
If a politicians is to use such examples it should be important that they get it right. However many politicians care little for the actual truth and twist and turn it to suit.
The latest information is that the man was in a gay relationship. He and his partner needed to show that they were in a stable long lasting relationship. The cat added weight to the stability of their life.
Yesterday, October 5, 2011, it emerged that the Bolivian man arrived in Britain as a student in 2002 and overstayed his two-year visa only when he was arrested for shoplifting in 2007.As yet he has faced no criminal charges as far as the shoplifting goes.
The Home office had initially told the man that, ‘Although you have a cat called Maya she is considered to be able to adapt to life abroad with her owners. While your cat’s material quality of life in Bolivia may not be at the same standard as in the United Kingdom, this does not give rise to a right to remain in the United Kingdom.’
The judge in the case disagreed and said, ‘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 the family life that the appellant and his partner enjoy.In Canada and to a much lesser extent in the United States there is an increasing recognition of the significance that pets occupy in family life and of the potentially serious emotional consequences pet owners may suffer when some unhappy event terminates the bond they have with a pet. The Canadian courts have moved away from the legal view that animals are merely chattels, to a recognition that they play an important role in the lives of their owners and that the loss of a pet has a significant emotional impact on its owner.’
The UK Home Office launched an appeal but the Bolivian one. However it has been stressed he did not win this appeal on the grounds of the cat.
The furore of the "cat" has left the Tory Party with egg on its face and looking in disarray. PM David Cameron has taken the side of his Home Secretary Theresa May. He has attacked Justice Secretary Ken Clarke who had derided May, saying Clarke was "siding with criminals".
Although all of this smacks of a comedy such as "Carry on Politician" it detracts from the serious side of this debate. Certain members of the Tory Party seem hell bent on scrapping the Human Rights Act. The Act may be flawed but resigning it to the scrap heap is bad news.
It would make more sense to draft our own Human Rights Act or appeal for amendments to the act than scrap it in its entirety. As Big Brother reaches out further all the time such an Act is vital. Remember amongst all the cat's out of the bag, Tories in cat flap and cat-gate jokes that a serious threat to UK Human Rights is on the cards. Don't let them scrap it for good.
For every rogue person misusing the Human Rights Act there will be many more honestly being helped by it.
Eileen Kersey manages TEK Staff Blog