Human rights

Twelve years ago, head teacher Philip Lawrence was stabbed to death outside his west London school while protecting a pupil who was being assaulted. 15-year old Learco Chindamo was convicted of the murder and jailed indefinitely.

This week, Chindamo won an appeal against his deportation to Italy, his country of origin, on the grounds that this would breach his rights under the Human Rights Act and also a European Union Directive which was agreed by the Government and became law last year.

Chindamo was held at Ford Prison locally until a year ago, when he was returned to a closed jail, along with dozens of other foreign national prisoners when it transpired that many were walking out of the gates.

The Deputy Governor of the prison said that Chindamo was a reformed character. Yet the Home Office considers that he represents "a genuine and present and ... serious threat to the public."

If this is the case, why was Chindamo put in an open prison in the first place?

Some say that Chindamo came to this country when he was five, that his family is now here, and that he should be allowed to stay. I disagree. I don't think murderers have a right to remain in their country of choice. We are hearing a lot about the rights of violent criminals. What about their victims?

Last month Gordon Brown said: "If you commit a crime you will be deported. You play by the rules or you face the consequences." That simply wasn't true, as he must have known, because of his Government's own legislation, which he refuses to amend.

As Philip Lawrence's widow Frances said, there is something rotten at the core of the Human Rights Act. Brown promised a new style of government and an end to spin. This week we've seen how hollow that promise is.

Michelle Taylor