Daily Star claims cat saves man from deportation- Full Fact finds reason to be cautious

15 July 2011

Immigration remains a contentious issue this week as the Coalition publishes a Consultation on Family Migration aimed at dealing with the issues around entry to the UK by non-EU nationals based on family relationships. So what have the headlines been saying about the issue?

The Daily Star reported yesterday that "hundreds of thugs and killers" challenged deportation rulings last year on the basis of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights: the 'right to respect for private and family life'. They claim that 102 appeals were won on this basis in 2010, and that the cases included a Bolivian man who won his appeal because he owned a cat.

The TelegraphDaily Mail and the Independent (as well as many other publications) have also reported various aspects of the claims over the last few years, with the case of the Bolivian man and his cat given a wide airing as an example of government failings on immigration.

So where does this anecdote come from? The case first surfaced in the Press back in 2009 (rather than last year, as the Star suggested), with The Sun, The Daily Mail and the Telegraph all expressing surprise that an unnamed Bolivian man had been allowed to stay because of his feline connections.

However this account of the story was by no means uncontested. The lawyer representing the Bolivian man, Barry O'Leary, told the Independent at the time that the cat was irrelevant to the outcome of the immigration Tribunal.

He said: "We were never arguing on the basis that the cat was material. We argued that there is a Home Office policy they should have applied in this case because of the long term nature of the couple's relationship.

"The immigration judge found that was the reason the appeal should be allowed."

So while the example given may be dubious, how does the claim that figures on the other "thugs and Killers" stand up?

It has been difficult to get clarification on number used in the Star, particularly on whether or not the 102 people who escaped deportation on the grounds of Article 8 can fairly be described as "hundreds of thugs and killers."

The Star report uses numbers which it claims are from last year, and the Telegraph also cites the same figures.

The Telegraph article in June reported that the 102 people included 'violent criminals and illegal immigrants' which suggests that some violent offenders were among the number, but does not suggest that all can be included in that category.

The Telegraph also reported that the figures had been obtained by Conservative MP Dominic Raab. Mr Raab has been in contact with Full Fact to provide us with more details, and we've explored the numbers in more depth here.

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