Sunday, September 03, 2006

Justice Must Be Seen To Be Done

You might remember the case of Ernesto Leal from a while back. Mr Leal, originally from Chile, has been a resident in the UK for the last 29 years. In 2003 he was convicted of GBH after being involved in a fight. He served his time and was then released

In May, 15 months after his release, he was caught up in the government's knee-jerk response to the furore surrounding their failure to adequately assess foreign nationals for possible deportation. He was re-arrested, spent a month in custody, and was then given bail while he fought against the government's attempt to deport him to a country he hadn't lived in since he was a boy. (Initially, the government said it intended to deport him to Jamaica but this was apparently an administrative error.)

The good news is Mr Leal has won his appeal against deportation. The judge ruled that he did not pose a threat and should be allowed to remain in the UK.

It seems clear that the Home Office could have established this easily before he was released the first time round. But they didn't. And then, purely because of the bad press generated in May by the revelations concerning the woefully inadequate Home Office, the government felt it had to act tough, re-arrest Mr Leal, and attempt to deport him.

This unfortunate episode is surely a perfect encapsulation of Blair's government. It's all there; the obsession with media headlines, the shallowness, the lack of compassion and the gross incompetence.

In this case, justice was actually done in the end. No thanks to our government though.

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