IT is not easy to say that Frances Lawrence is wrong to contest the decision of the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal which has ruled that Learco Chindamo, who killed her husband in 1995, should not be deported to Italy, his country of birth, after his release from prison. Mrs Lawrence was clearly under great strain during the interview she gave on the BBC's Today programme yesterday morning and many will agree with her plea “The law in not always what must be our context, humanity is more important.” But humanity's best protection is the law.

It will not be easy either to keep a cool head in the media debate that is likely to erupt over this case but it is important to try to do so. Learco Chindamo is not about to be released into society; he will shortly become eligible for parole but that is a very different matter from being granted it. The government is wrong to treat him as a foreigner and thereby eligible for deportation on release; he has lived in Britain from early childhood, has never seen his Italian father and speaks no Italian. He has been a model prisoner and it is difficult to know on what grounds the government claimed his presence in the UK would “not be conducive to the public good”. He is not a terrorist.

Mrs Lawrence should not place too much faith in promises from ministers to intervene. Their main concern is emotive headlines in tabloid newspapers.


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