The illegal immigrant, who is the subject of a ministerial bust up between the Home Secretary and Ken Clarke, allowed to stay in the UK partly because he owned a cat was given a police caution for shoplifting, The Daily Telegraph has revealed.
Ranzo Avila, who was at the centre of a row among senior Tories, overstayed his student visa but was allowed to stay in Britain after an immigration judge ruled in his favour in 2008. He concluded that the Bolivian’s right to family life would be breached because he was in an established relationship — reinforced by the fact that the couple had bought a cat.
Immigration court records showed that he first came to the attention of officials after being arrested for shoplifting but not charged. But it emerged that Mr Avila admitted shoplifting from Debenhams in Oxford Street, London, in 2007 and received a police caution. It is understood that he took four items of clothing into a changing room and then tried to conceal them.
However, such an offence does not cross the threshold for when a foreign national would face deportation, which is someone who has been sentenced to at least a year in prison.
Mr Avila has not spoken since his case was thrust into the limelight in a row at the Conservative Party Conference over the use of human rights laws.
Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary, ridiculed a claim by Theresa May, the Home Secretary, that a Bolivian had been allowed to remain in Britain because of his cat.
The Daily Telegraph told yesterday how the cat did play a role in the case after the judge in the 2008 appeal suggested that separating him from the pet could cause “mental distress”. The man, now 36, had argued his right to a family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights because he had been with his boyfriend for four years.
Judge James Devittie said their joint ownership of a pet named Maya reinforced the quality of their family life and suggested that separating them could cause the man emotional trauma.
Following an appeal by the Home Office, a second judge ruled that the main reason that the Bolivian could stay was because of a technical error by officials.
Mr Avila is still with his partner and is eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain in Britain when his current leave comes up for renewal next year. If granted it paves the way for him to apply for British citizenship.
The Tory row deepened on Thursday after Mr Clarke was forced to express “regret” for describing Mrs May’s use of the cat case as “laughable and childlike”.
The so called Human Rights ‘cat’ saga has made a laughing stock out of the UK immigration system and caused a cabinet rift which could see the end of Justice Secretary Ken Clarke’s senior level career, as fellow Ministers are not supposed to openly disagree with the party line or citicise each other in public.
In a separate case, a convicted thief who lied about his nationality is to sue the Home Office for damages after a court ruled that he had been unlawfully detained awaiting deportation.
Mounir Raki won a High Court ruling that the length of his detention pending his removal — four years and seven months — was “self evidently unreasonable”.
Later, his solicitors said Mr Raki, instead of being released, had been “cynically” arrested and held on a charge relating to an alleged forged birth certificate.
He originally served six months in prison after being convicted on two counts of theft. He was then detained pending his removal to Morocco.
On his arrest in July 2006, Raki, who is in his thirties, unsuccessfully claimed asylum on the basis that he was Moroccan and in danger of persecution if sent back to his home country.
Although he subsequently told a probation officer that he had in fact grown up in the Palestinian territories, language analysis suggested he did not speak Arabic as a Palestinian would and the Home Office asserted it was “beyond reasonable doubt” he was Moroccan. Source: The Telegraph.
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