Justice Secretary Ken Clarke has accused Home Secretary Theresa May of making "laughable child-like" comments about the Human Rights Act.
May had told the Conservative Party conference that she thought the act should be abolished.
A row erupted after she said one man had managed to avoid deportation because he had a cat, and to remove him from the country would violate his right to a family life.
Following her speech Clarke had said the cat story was not true.
Now Clarke has escalated the catfight further by telling Joe Watts of the Nottingham Post:
"It's not only the judges that all get furious when the Home Secretary makes a parody of a court judgement, our commission who are helping us form our view on this are not going to be entertained by laughable child-like examples being given."
He also told the political correspondent: "I expect I will have to wear body armour the next time I meet Theresa."
But the Daily Mail has claimed that the home secretary is in fact correct. It reports that the judge feared separating the man from his cat risked "serious emotional consequences".
Clarke later issued a statement in which he said he regretted the "colorful language" he used during the interview.
"I consider this issue closed. The prime minister has made the position clear, and I fully support it," he said.
"There is a problem with deporting foreign prisoners, which I have always agreed with Theresa needs to be addressed. The Government's Commission on a Bill of Rights is under way.
He added: "I do rather regret the colourful language I used at one point in my interview."
Suggested For You
Get top stories and blog posts emailed to me each day. Newsletters may offer personalized content or advertisements. Learn more