UK immigration rulings prompt criticism from home secretary

03 Nov 2011 | Posted by Carl Thomas

The home secretary Theresa May has criticised judges for their use of human rights rules regarding UK immigration cases.

Ms May launched the attack in a leaked letter, in which she stated that British judges are exceeding the European Court of Human Rights when they consider UK immigration and UK visa appeals.

In the letter to Westminster's joint committee on human rights she states: “There is now a divergence in approach between the UK courts and the European Court of Human Rights over whether the family of a person facing removal from the UK can live elsewhere, and the weight to be given to family relationships formed whilst migrants are knowingly breaking immigration laws.”

Article 8 of the Human Rights Act is commonly used as a tool in acquiring UK visas and permission to remain in this country. However, Ms May claims that judges have misinterpreted the law in this area in a number of cases.

While the Human Rights Act states that judges must consider whether or not there are 'insurmountable obstacles' to deporting the individual, Ms May believes that some judges are asking an alternative question of whether or not it 'is reasonable to expect' the family of an applicant facing deportation to join him or her in the country of origin.

The news follows a somewhat embarrassing case in which Ms May suggested that a pet cat had been the reason an illegal immigration was permitted to remain in the UK when in fact, while the cat was an issue, their were a number of other influencing factors, including a long-term partner.