Justice for Ernesto

Submitted by Janine on 18 October, 2006 - 9:35

Ernesto Leal has won his right to stay in Britain – and the Home Office will not appeal against the decision.

Ernesto came from Chile to Britain as a child in the 1970s, fleeing Pinochet's repression with the rest of his family. After living in Scotland for years, he now lives in Hackney. His first language is English, he no longer has family in Chile.

But the government wanted to kick him out of the country. Why? Because he got in trouble with the law a few years back, and when the Tories and the tabloids began their hysteria about 'foreign criminals', Ernesto was a convenient pawn in a political game.

The judge in the case expressed his 'revulsion' at the way immigration officers treated Ernesto, and at the role of then Home Secretary Charles Clarke. Several MPs – including Hackney North’s Diane Abbott – have supported for the judge's comments, and the Leal family reckons it is high time for a root-and-branch overhaul of Britain's immigration laws to stop such brutality happening again.

Too right it is.

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