diberry - 9:02 pm on Jul 28, 2012 (gmt 0)
This brings up an interesting question:
If you're penalized for spammy backlinks, Google can't know whether you or a competitor arranged those links to your site. If you ask for reinclusion on the claim that a competitor set up those links to sabotage you and you can't do anything about it, Google wouldn't know any better. But if you remove the links, Google knows for sure you were link building.
This is part of the FUD. If you remove the backlinks, you out yourself as a spammer. Google MAY choose to respect that and give you another chance... or they may put a black mark by your site/known webmaster account/IP forever.
Unfortunately, we can't know if Google's going to play fair or serve their own interests. Legally, I'm not sure they'd be doing anything wrong by penalizing you for cleaning up your backlinks.