(moved due to updated news)
The killer who knifed headmaster Philip Lawrence to death is expected to win his appeal to stay in Britain because deporting him would breach his human rights, according to a Home Office official. The Asylum and Immigration Tribunal will rule this week that Italian-born Learco Chindamo cannot be deported as this would deprive him of his right to family life, the official said.
Chindamo, now 26, stabbed Mr Lawrence in the heart outside the gates of St George's School in Maida Vale, west London, in 1995 when he was just 15. Mr Lawrence, 48, the school's headmaster, had been trying to defend a 13-year-old boy who was being attacked.
I think we can file this one under "Home Office Strategy Overturned By The Courts".
Last year the then home secretary, John Reid, pledged that foreign prisoners convicted of serious offences would be deported automatically, after his predecessor Charles Clarke was found to have presided over a system in which more than 1,000 foreigners were freed when they were meant to be considered for deportation.
However, this has proved difficult to implement. Besides a prisoner's human rights, which have been enshrined in British law since 2000, there is also European Union law to consider.
UPDATE - Ian Dale laments the predictable decision, but a blogger previously unknown to me, one Wrinkled Weasel, posts this in the comments. One for the sidebar I think, when I get it fixed.
Mr Lawrence intervened to "save" a 13 year old (William Njoh), who has since specialised in petty crime, leading to robbery, leading to a firearms offence, for which he was jailed this week. Lawrence was stabbed to death in the original attack.
His widow has succumbed to the dilemma of the liberal middle classes in that she cannot figure out who the bad guys are any more and is reported to have "blown a kiss" to William Njoh as he went down for four and a half years.
As for Chindamo, her moral compass spins wildy as ever:
"Forgiveness is such a complex issue or maybe such a simple one and I don't think I really understand it yet, and I'm not sure what it is that I'm meant to do.
"This is really difficult but I think I've probably always forgiven Chindamo but it's the dealing with it - that's so difficult."
No dear, you don't have to forgive the scumbag and the problem is not yours to deal with. He took away a life that was precious to you, a life you will never have.
He deserves to hang, but we don't do that anymore, but at the very least he should spend the rest of his life either behind bars. Whether here or in Italy is irrelevant.
What makes me angry is that we are having a debate about this. As far as I am concerned, Chindamo gave up his rights to everything but food and water when he joined a violent gang, carried a ten inch knife and stabbed somebody who worked for crap money doing something useful.
While Mrs Lawrence, as a Christian, is enjoined by her faith to attempt forgiveness, I can't say the moral compass of Telegraph crime reporter John Steele is in terribly good order.
Njoh was 13, in 1995, when Mr Lawrence was stabbed outside St George's Roman Catholic School in Maida Vale, west London, trying to protect Njoh, one of his pupils, from a teenage gang.
The incident left Njoh traumatised. He had to give evidence in the murder trial and, after threats were made against him, he went into hiding. His education was disrupted and he drifted into crime, committing several offences, including robbery.
"He drifted into crime". How to describe a dying civilisation in four words.
UPDATE 2 - I Am An Englishman, a blogger who I think can be reasonably described as far right and with whom I'm sure I'd disagree on many topics, has a lot of factual detail on Chindamo's gang.
UPDATE3 - guess who's behind the decision to keep Chindamo here - Mr Margaret Hodge !
The panel which granted Learco Chindamo the right to live freely in the UK is headed by Sir Henry Hodge - a human rights campaigner who is married to Culture Minister Margaret Hodge. Sir Henry's Asylum and Immigration Tribunal has ruled that deporting Chindamo would breach his right to a family life. Sir Henry is the former chairman of the National Council for Civil Liberties - now known as Liberty. He bears public responsibility for the tribunal's decisions, which are taken either by an individual immigration judge or - in controversial cases such as this - a three-person panel. The Chindamo panel was headed by senior immigration judge David Allen, a barrister and product of grammar school and Oxford University. He began working part-time as an immigration adjudicator in 1989 and moved into the field full-time when appointed as a senior immigration judge in 2000. He was backed by Jonathan Lewis, who has worked as a solicitor for 30 years. Mr Lewis is also the author of an official guide to immigration law. Chindamo's panel also contained a lay member, Adrian Smith, who has worked in the field since 1993. The judicial communications service yesterday refused to provide any more information about him.