Human Rights Act Works for a Killer, Not His Victim; ANALYSIS the Human Rights Act Is Back under the Spotlight after the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal Ruled the Killer of Headteacher Philip Lawrence Could Not Be Deported, as Katie Dawson and Ben Padley Report

The Birmingham Post (England), August 22, 2007 | Go to article overview

Human Rights Act Works for a Killer, Not His Victim; ANALYSIS the Human Rights Act Is Back under the Spotlight after the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal Ruled the Killer of Headteacher Philip Lawrence Could Not Be Deported, as Katie Dawson and Ben Padley Report


Byline: Katie Dawson and Ben Padley

For the widow of Philip Lawrence, the Human Right Act has allowed her husband's killer to "pick and choose" how to live his life. Mr Lawrence was stabbed to death in an attack outside St George's Roman Catholic School in Maida Vale, west London, in December 1995, while trying to protect a 13-year-old pupil.

The 48-year-old was attacked when a gang of 12 youths led by Learco Chindamo went to attack a boy who had quarrelled with a pupil of Filipino origin. In October 1996, Chindamo - who was 15 at the time of the killing - was ordered to be detained indefinitely for the killing, and given a 12-year minimum tariff.

An Asylum and Immigration Tribunal ruled on Monday that Chindamo should be allowed to stay in Britain at the end of his prison sentence.

Yesterday, Frances Lawrence spoke about the plague of knife crime, trying to come to terms with her husband's death and how Chindamo had used the Human Rights Act to his benefit.

"In Article 2 of the Human Rights Act my husband had the right to life," she told Radio 4's Today programme.

"Chindamo destroyed that right, yet he has used the legal process to enable him to live as described in Article 8.

"The Act works in his best interest. It is ill-equipped to work in my family or for people in my situation. That seems to me a major conundrum."

Mrs Lawrence attacked the "hypocritical" sympathy offered by Chindamo's solicitor, Nigel Leskin.

She said: "I don't want his sympathy, which I find hypocritical, or his condescension and his ridiculous notion that it is a big world and I am unlikely to bump into Chindamo.

"This misses the point spectacularly. He doesn't know me and yet is is implying that I am a small-minded person, that I care only about my feelings and not the wider picture.

"I just feel ... that when we speak of morality we have only got to speak of the word and we are derided. When we speak of the relationship between rights and responsibilities we can be heard in contempt.

"To me I see this underlying the growing problem - the plague - of knife crime and violent crime."

Asked if she had been able to forgive Chindamo, she said: "My faith has been sorely tested. Forgiveness is such a complex issue, or maybe such a simple one, and I don't think I really understand it yet and I am not sure what it is that I am meant to do. This is probably very difficult because it is a very nebulous feeling but I think probably I have always forgiven Chindamo but it is the dealing with it that is difficult.

"It is the kind of visceral impact that these situations have on you."

She went on: "It has never given me any pleasure to see a young man locked away from society and I have never done anything other than wish him well and I hope that he understands the wrong of what he did and I hope that he make something of his life and forms stable, loving relationships."

Mrs Lawrence said she had always been given the impression that Chindamo would be deported at the end of his sentence. …

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Human Rights Act Works for a Killer, Not His Victim; ANALYSIS the Human Rights Act Is Back under the Spotlight after the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal Ruled the Killer of Headteacher Philip Lawrence Could Not Be Deported, as Katie Dawson and Ben Padley Report
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