Immigration lawyers have rejected Theresa May’s ‘populist’ assertion that judges are misinterpreting the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and wrongfully allowing overseas offenders to escape deportation.

The home secretary (pictured) has claimed that the courts are wilfully going against parliament’s wishes by refusing to deport dangerous foreign criminals because of their article eight rights to respect for private and family life.

The result, May said, will ‘inevitably’ be more foreigners committing violent crimes against British citizens in this country. May wants to bring forward a new law making deportation the norm where an immigrant has committed a crime.

Peter Herbert, chair of the Society of Black Lawyers, said: ‘It is a matter of concern when the home secretary seeks to criticise immigration judges (sitting with a lay person), who are simply following the precedent set by the courts and the ECHR.’

He added: ‘In some cases involving predominantly black and minority children who are UK citizens deporting a low-risk offending parent for at least 10 years may keep Migration Watch happy but does little for social cohesion and simply punishes a child for the deeds of a parent.’

Immigration Law Practitioners Association general secretary Alison Harvey said: ‘Article eight balances risks from an individual against the effect of removal on their and their families’ lives. The balance frequently does not come down in favour of the individual.

‘When it does, this is often because they have lived their whole lives in the UK and because of the effect on British or settled partners and children. It is as much part of our democratic system that judges judge cases as that parliament makes laws.’