1 SEPTEMBER 2007, Page 14

The blame for Chindamo

Sir: It was not the Human Rights Act that was the primary reason for the ruling in the Chindamo case (Leading article, 25 August); rather it was the rights of EU citizens to move freely within member states, one aspect of EU membership that most would regard as positive. As to the ruling itself, as Chindamo has resided here since he was six years old, our society must bear some of the responsibility for the character he became by the time he was 15. He has paid the penalty for his crime, and there does not appear to be any justification for imposing a further penalty of deportation from a country which is the only home with which he is familiar. The real villains in this piece are government ministers who wilfully lied when they said he would be deported, when they must have known they had no legal power to do it.

Finally, on a philosophical note, it is a mark of a civilised society that it exacts defined and limited penalties from convicted felons, who do not automatically lose all their rights merely because they are criminals (this is the original meaning of 'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth' — it limited the penalty imposed to what was proportionate). I, for one, think that this is important, and so should you, as arbitrary state power is something the Spectator has consistently opposed.

Richard Horton Purley, Surrey