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Mr Punch: firm but fair.

Mr Punch: firm but fair.

The Italians, who brought us Mr Punch, have just shown us British how to deal with those who vandalise ancient monuments. They’ve just wacked a Russian tourist with a €20,000 fine and a suspended prison sentence for carving a single letter on The Colosseum. Compare that with the peanuts imposed on a millionaire for bulldozing part of the Priddy Circles, the nothing that the person who did the same at Offa’s Dyke had to pay and the pat on the head (no doubt) that was given to those who staged a metal detecting rally on the site of Weyhill Fair. We could go on. For ages.

How refreshing were the words of the director of the Colosseum, Rossella Rea, who said the fine was justified as the visitor had damaged a magnificent and symbolic monument and “You cannot write on a historic wall, it’s absolutely forbidden” and of Darius Arya, a Rome-based archaeologist, who said the fine would send a powerful message to would-be vandals: “It’s an extraordinarily high fee. This says ‘we have no patience’; they’re upping the ante as a new form of protection.

Quite!

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