Sharland and Sandy

Sharland and Sandy 27th May 2013

I trot round the park today and listen to the Navy lark. I Oh dear, oh dear
Fatso Ordinary Seaman Johnson is writing his memoirs, all about how Pertwee is rotten to him. But Pertwee diverts him to writing a history of all the ships named Troutbridge. But its though too dangerous and might fall into the hands of the enemy Priceless.
A quiet day with a visit by Sharland and Sandy totally exhausting
We watch ‘The Happiest days of your life’ a wonderful old film.
No Scrabble we are just too tired so its off to bed.


Ronald Payne
Ronald Payne, who has died aged 87, was a genial Telegraph foreign correspondent and writer of books on espionage with a rich appreciation for the comedy of human life.

Payne with Col Gaddafi one of his many foreign adventures 
6:10PM BST 26 May 2013
From the early 1950s he covered anti-colonial troubles in Lebanon, Cyprus, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. He measured the mounting tensions of the Suez crisis by noting Egyptian graffiti which proclaimed “Your king is a woman” and hearing the waiters at his hotel furiously shouting “Death to the British”. When the waiters spotted him, they politely added: “Not you, Mr Payne, not you”.
After being brought home to be diplomatic correspondent of The Sunday Telegraph, Payne collaborated closely with Christopher Dobson on joint assignments, which took them throughout Europe and the Middle East. Marshalling their detailed research and shrewd judgments, arrived at over long lunches, they would file their combined copy under the byline “rondob”.
During the 1973 Yom Kippur war they were crossing a pontoon bridge over the Suez Canal when their car broke down under sporadic artillery fire, from which they were rescued by an Israeli officer who took them to General Ariel Sharon’s headquarters. They remained for three days, attending meetings conducted in English for their benefit before filing their dispatches and being reunited with their car – which had been repaired and delivered to the enemy side of the bridge with a full tank of petrol.
One of Payne’s most striking assignments was an interview with Col Gaddafi of Libya in 1976. After a 10-day delay Gaddafi received him first in Bedouin robes, then in military riding dress before finally sitting down in a sharp suit. He denied supplying arms to the IRA; thought England ruled Ireland; and when asked unwelcome questions lapsed into long silences .
The resulting article was translated into Arabic for a Tripoli newspaper as a propagandist hymn of praise to “the world’s greatest leader”. Later the translator offered “a small apology for taking certain liberties”.
The son of a Primitive Methodist minister, Ronald Staveley Payne was born at Ripon, North Riding, on February 6 1926, and aged five enrolled as a Little White Ribboner into the Women’s Temperance Association; the certificate remained on his office wall all his life. He had his first taste of journalism when he arrived at school one day so full of his experience in the Hull blitz that he was asked to relate it to his class.
After Bedford School, Ronnie Payne joined the Royal Marines and was commissioned into 42 Commando, with whom he fought in Holland. He then read History at Jesus College, Oxford, where he wrote for The Isis before joining the Reading Mercury.
He arrived in Fleet Street as a leader writer for The Evening Standard and, with his beard, burly build and ever present pipe, quickly became a familiar figure. He joined the Telegraph as a reporter and was sent to Paris to cover the fizzling political climate and the troubles in North Africa. The paper had a palatial office on the Place Vendome staffed by three reporters as well as the young Jimmy Goldsmith – an unpaid dogsbody who once made Payne an offer (refused, naturally – of a free girl at an exclusive brothel.
In 1979 Goldsmith made Payne and Dobson a more conventional proposal, and the pair moved to Now, the short-lived news magazine which the businessman had started. After 19 lucrative months they were back on Fleet Street with plenty of material on Soviet espionage and international smuggling to sell to the Telegraph and other publications.
They also produced a series of popular books, which began with The Carlos Complex (1977), about the sinister and charismatic terrorist, Carlos the Jackal. The Falklands Conflict, written with John Miller, the paper’s Moscow correspondent, was the first account of the 1982 war; it came out the day British troops entered Port Stanley and sold 100,000 copies. The Dictionary of Espionage and War Without End (1984) dealt with the spreading tentacles of terrorism; and with Miller again they produced The Cruellest Night (1979), about the sinking in April 1945 of the large German passenger ship Wilhelm Gustloff.
Among the books Payne wrote on his own were Private Spies (1967), about the growth and increasing professionalism of industrial espionage; Mossad (1991), an account of the Israeli secret service; and an Insider’s Guide to the Press (1996). At the same time he continued to produce columns and features for The Sunday Telegraph on such subjects as the resident cat, Kitty, in the Shakespeare & Co bookshop in Paris; life in Saddam’s Iraq; and the bounty hunters obstructing the hunt for the missing Terry Waite.
He also joined The European when it made its debut. At the opulent party to mark the event, Payne remarked to the publication’s founder Robert Maxwell, who was keeping an eye on proceedings, that there was “no such thing as a free launch”. On one assignment, Payne tracked down John Cairncross in Provence, where the spy was writing a book about the Jesuits .
Ronnie Payne and his third wife, Celia Haddon, the Telegraph’s pet correspondent, retired to Oxfordshire, where he published One Hundred Ways To Live with a Cat Addict (2005). In it he stressed the need for one firm rule: “Keep cats out of the bedroom at all costs. Infuriating feline fascination with what the humans are up to must have spoiled more nights of passion than grey flannel knickers ever did.” It was followed a year later by One Hundred Ways To Live with a Dog Addict.
His wife and a stepdaughter survive him.
Ronald Payne, born February 6 1926, died May 25 201


The Lose the Lads’ Mags campaign by UK Feminista and Object is calling on high-street retailers to immediately withdraw lads’ mags and papers featuring pornographic front covers from their stores. Each one of these stores is a workplace. Displaying these publications in workplaces, and/or requiring staff to handle them in the course of their jobs, may amount to sex discrimination and sexual harassment contrary to the Equality Act 2010. Similarly, exposing customers to these publications in the process of displaying them is capable of giving rise to breaches of the Equality Act.
High-street retailers are exposing staff and, in some cases, customers to publications whose handling and display may breach equality legislation. Displaying lads’ mags and pornographic papers in “mainstream” shops results in the involuntary exposure of staff and, in some cases, customers to pornographic images.
Every mainstream retailer which stocks lads’ mags is vulnerable to legal action by staff and, where those publications are visibly on display, by customers. There are, in particular, examples of staff successfully suing employers in respect of exposure to pornographic material at work. Such exposure is actionable where it violates the dignity of individual employees or customers, or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them. We therefore call on such retailers to urgently heed the call to Lose the Lads’ Mags.
Aileen McColgan Matrix Chambers, Sarah Ricca Deighton Pierce Glynn Solicitors, Anna Mazzola Bindmans, Mike Schwarz Bindmans, Harriet Wistrich Birnberg Peirce & Partners, Helen Mountfield Matrix Chambers, Elizabeth Prochaska Matrix Chambers, Tamsin Allen Bindmans, Gwendolen Morgan Bindmans, Salima Budhani Bindmans, Nathalie Lieven QC Landmark Chambers

Further to the article by Julie Bindel (Let this be the Macpherson moment for domestic abuse, 22 May), fMRI brain scans from the US show, perhaps surprisingly, that to an even greater extent than actually being abused themselves, exposure to and directly witnessing domestic violence has the most profound effect of all on the developing brains of children in terms of patterns associated with features of post-traumatic stress disorder. Referral rates of such children presenting with behavioural problems and/or symptoms of PTSD, to child and adolescent mental health service clinics in this country by GPs and social workers, provide further evidence that the harm done to them by seeing their responsible adults – almost always their mums – being subjected to violence is therefore both psychological and physical. Subsequent, potentially lifelong, elevated cortisol levels when faced with stressful situations mean that they risk “hidden costs” for the rest of their lives in terms of things like drug and alcohol problems and relationship difficulties, to name but three. While EMDR (eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing) and other treatments recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence for trauma can have a beneficial effect in terms of reducing and even repairing the damage done, most children witnessing domestic violence will not be able to access such help. How right Julie Bindel is to draw attention to the need for an inquiry which might come up with recommendations to help prevent domestic violence on women and children happening in the first place.
Cairns Clery
Consultant family psychotherapist, London

As Jeremy Hunt links the crisis in hospital A&E departments with GPs opting out of out-of-hours care (GPs hit out at Hunt as he attacks ‘inaccessible’ surgeries, 23 May), I would like to put the matter into perspective. For most of my career as a GP, I was contracted to the NHS to provide care for my patients 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. If I wished to take time off for holidays or even if I was ill, it was my responsibility to find cover. This was usually facilitated by forming a partnership with other GPs in a group practice or paying for a locum. This worked well, although it was still not unusual to work all day, be out of bed most of the night and work all the following day. However, as an increasing proportion of graduates from medical schools were women, who wished for more family-friendly hours, vacancies in general practice became harder to fill, particularly in inner cities.
The government at the time could not risk areas of the country being without medical cover, so they had to find a way of attracting doctors to general practice. This involved giving them the choice of opting out of out-of-hours cover. To do this they had to come up with a figure that represented the proportion of a GP’s remuneration accounting for their out-of-hours work, something that successive review bodies had fought shy of. By comparing other NHS professionals with no such commitment, such as dentists, it was found that GPs were paid very little for it. When GPs were told how much they would lose by opting out, it was hardly surprising that a large majority did so.
The responsibility for providing out-of-hours care fell to the primary care trusts, which in many cases contracted it out to private companies, with the results that we see today. GPs had for half a century provided the service for next to nothing, so it is hardly fair to blame them for the failings of a system that now relies so heavily on profit.
Dr John Davies
Kirkby-in-Cleveland, North Yorkshire
• One of the basic factors underlying the out-of-hours and A&E problems has been ignored by commentators and the press: that the UK has probably the lowest doctor-patient ratio in Europe. In 2010, that was 2.6 doctors per 1,000 people. France had 3.3, Germany 3.6, Sweden 3.7 and the OECD average 3.1. The BMA is the doctors’ trade union, its quiet influence enormous in operating a closed-shop principle. The gullible Labour minister of health in 2004 fell for its PR about “quality” rather than numbers. It is the case that our structure of nursing is different from that of other European countries, but nurses, no matter how highly trained, do not compensate for the deficiency in medical training numbers, resulting in deficiency in GPs and in almost every specialty. We need to train at least 30% more doctors.I expect howls of sanctimonious indignation from the BMA. It is good at denial.
JD Manson
• If GPs think they enjoy popular support, they may be in for a shock. Everyone complains about the difficulty of making an appointment, which often entails phoning at 8am several days in a row. It’s not uncommon for a receptionist to suggest visiting A&E if you need a same-day consultation. A pre-booked appointment with a doctor of choice can mean a wait of six weeks at my practice. Many people work weekends, bank holidays and unsocial hours, but not GPs. As their pay has increased, so their availability has declined. My local surgery has been closed for four days in a row in successive weeks for the past two Christmases and New Year periods, which then leaves a backlog of demand to clear when they reopen. I voiced these complaints to a GP and her reply was that people expect a lot of something they don’t pay for. Isn’t it time GPs approached the situation with a little more humility andrecognised that they’re providing an essential service, not doing us a favour?
Jo Hillier
• The government justified its NHS reforms by saying that doctors were the best people to run the services instead of professional managers. So how does this square with its attacks on GPs blaming them for the problems in A&E by negotiating a contract which damages patients?
Ian Reissmann
Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire
• It’s taken a long time to ask the obvious question “if the doctors do the commissioning, who does the doctoring?” (GPs threaten to quit NHS commissioning so that they can concentrate on patients, 24 May). So now, what about an answer.
Derek Haselden
Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire

Frank Large (Letters, 24 May) is worried that writing down the distance to the stars would involve so many zeroes that the editor would not allow it. Let’s try it. The distance from Frank to the edge of the observable universe is about 46bn light years (nine zeroes) away. A light year is around 6tn miles (12 zeroes). That makes around 275,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 miles (21 zeroes). And if the paper has room for one more zero, Frank could go there and back five times over. If the paper is pushed for space, we could think outside the box (as cliches seem to be de rigueur) and write this larger distance as 2.75 × 1024 (one zero).
Chris Coghill
• Your correspondent (Letters, 25 May) promotes John McCrae’s In Flanders Fields as an anti-war poem, but surely the third verse exhorting the comrades of the dead to “take up our quarrel with the foe” suggests the opposite.
Michael Clayton
Wisbech, Cambridgeshire
• Can I be the first of this year’s firsts? Toadstools sprouted overnight in our garden on 22 May. Who’s going to tell them they’re four months early?
Joyce Hawthorn
Kendal, Cumbria
• Are there any non-bustling market towns (Letters, 25 May)?
David Halliday
• Why are previews always “sneak”?
Elizabeth Swinbank


Amid the horror of the Woolwich killings, politicians from all shades of the political spectrum appear to be agreed on one thing: whatever the grievances of the suspects, their actions cannot be justified by British foreign policy.
But the political establishment is in denial. There is a world of difference between justifying an action and explaining it. To seek to immediately shut down a debate on why our soldiers are killing people in different parts of the Muslim world in our name, is to play into the hands of people who commit atrocities on our soil. Indeed, to refuse to discuss these issues looks as if we have something to hide.
We should try to understand why a small section of the British Muslim community identifies more with citizens of other countries to the extent they advocate murder on our shores, and challenge this dangerous ideology.
To do this, we must confront and counteract their ideas about our foreign policy, and not refuse to enter into such a debate for fear of looking as if we are accepting justifications or excuses. By doing so, we stand a much better chance of exposing their ideas, and marginalising them, both inside and outside the British Muslim community.
Eventually, we will have to talk to such people, just as we have talked to other “terrorists”, such as the IRA.
Dr Shazad Amin
Sale, Greater Manchester
The Woolwich suspects were clear about their objective, “to start a war in London”, creating enmity between British citizens. Now, the Muslim community needs to help solve the problem within its ranks, as they suffer the backlash.
That is the purpose of a small minority of Muslims, and if their “victories” are to be denied, it is essential that the majority take a stand and “out” such individuals to the authorities.
If the Muslim community fails to do this then it becomes a collaborator. If the community cannot determine whether it is prepared to give up those intent on causing violent dissent, then the mosques that fail to report those people to the authorities should be closed.
Alan Stedall
Woolwich may have altered the course of British politics. It was also an attack on Queen, country and above all, freedom, to which David Cameron issued a robust retort. The allegations that the reaction betrayed a “racist” agenda are nonsense (letters, 25 May).
The Prime Minister’s statesmanlike response has surely silenced the backbench murmurings against his leadership, albeit temporarily. This leaves potential challengers and Ed Miliband sitting on the sidelines.
The Prime Minister’s decorum in the wake of the tragedy also made a telling contrast with the Mayor of London’s attempt to promote his own political agenda.
With the challenge of the Syrian crisis looming and his NHS reforms faltering, Mr Cameron has less than a year to prove he is more than a one-term Prime Minister.
Anthony Rodriguez
Staines Upon Thames,  Middlesex
The GPs of  today, and of yesterday
I think Dr Clare Gerada (Voices, 23 May) overstates her case by saying, “We routinely see up to 60 patients on a daily basis”. Giving an average of 10 minutes per patient, that represents 10 hours of surgery time a day. Few in this part of the world will believe this.
Some years ago, when a previous government wanted to create super-surgeries, the Family Doctor panel of the BMA put out a leaflet stating their belief in the importance of the relationship between family doctor and patient.
Alas, this does not extend to night time and weekends, when patients never know who they might have to deal with. Given that uncertainty, is there any wonder that they go straight to A&E for attention?
Robert Hopkinson
Wolsingham, Co Durham
I entirely agree with the Secretary of State for Health that the problem with A&E is related to the opting out of “on-call” care by GPs. But the problem goes further back than the last extraordinary pay rise for GPs.
I worked as a GP for 27 years and retired in 1998. I was happy to do my fair share of out-of-hours cover. I was a believer in continuity of care, and GPs covering their own practice out of hours was an important part of that.
But the authorities did not share this view and we were paid what we considered a pittance for the night and weekend work we did. It was little wonder that younger GPs were likely to take any opportunity to relieve them of this duty. Before I retired, my partners took this route and joined a co-operative. I didn’t follow them on a point of principle.
I kept a record of all the out-of-hours visits that I had done between 1991 and 1998: a total of 1,117. I tried to analyse them to determine how many patients I had saved from making an unnecessary visit to A&E or an unnecessary 999 call.
I presented this to the partners at a clinical meeting mainly to illustrate why we should be paid more for the visits. Only 120 of those 1,117 (10 per cent) were referred to hospital, meaning the rest I could advise and/or treat myself.
Knowing many of the patients and families was a considerable advantage, as was having access to the notes of those of my partners. Apart from visiting, I can think of numerous occasions when a word of advice to a family over the phone had been enough, (plus giving them the option to phone again if needed, and they knew they would speak to the same doctor), and often no follow-up visit or even treatment was needed. I concluded that the GP is the perfect person to do the initial “triage”.
Dr Grahame Randall
Liphook, Hampshire
We should use a stand-by airport
Simon Calder (25 May) is wrong to link the extensive flight delays on Friday to the constant calls for more infrastructure (ie runways). All that is required is the equivalent of a motorway hard shoulder, a nearby civilian or military airport prepared for emergency landings.
This would have the extra benefit of not requiring the stricken plane to fly back across central London, which surely only adds to the risk of disaster?
Andy Spring
London SE5
Your coverage of an ailing British Airways flight returning to London Heathrow included a map of its route. If accurate, it raises two significant questions: first, why did the aircraft not divert to Stansted, which was almost underneath the revised flightpath?
Second, why was a malfunctioning aircraft with a full load of fuel, allowed to circle back and fly over central London, the most densely populated area of the country?
Ian McBain
Loughton, Essex
Pros and cons of the EU
The pro-EU campaigners seem to forget a simple fact when howling about the “loss” of business if UK were to leave the EU. We would still remain members of the EEA just like Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland. Switzerland is slightly different but has a close arrangement with the EU. Being outside the EU did not have much impact on Iceland’s banking sector a few years ago.
As a member of the EEA, we would enjoy many of our present EU membership advantages plus regaining control of our EEZ. We would still have to adopt many EU directives into national law, but would have more choice over which ones. We would lose voting rights, but as many EU decisions are by QMV, we probably would not lose much.
Colin Stone
The business elite who wish to stay in the EU fail to answer how Britain can protect its borders as a member of the EU. As a member, we cannot prevent Britain being used as the dumping ground for Europe and the world`s surplus populations.
We have a welfare budget which has risen since 2010 from £194bn to £220bn. The UK Government fails to publish how much of this rise is attributable to the ever-rising number of immigrants claiming benefits.
T C Bell
Penrith, Cumbria
Blindness or a cunning plot?
I wonder if George Osborne’s reputation as an astute politician might be justified. He and his fellow neo-liberals are possessed with an extreme-right-wing hatred of what they refer to the State and we might think of as the public realm.
That ideological disgust extends to include welfare, or, particularly, the NHS. The only explanation for Osborne’s persistence in economic policies which have been proven not to work and never will is that they create the circumstances under which the extreme right can argue for curtailing expenditure in the public realm (except for Trident) and which will allow for the destruction of the NHS in particular.
Michael Rosenthal
Banbury, Oxfordshire
A class act
The apparent scepticism of Ukip and the Tory right over climate change suggests that the British education system has lamentably failed. Otherwise, why do so many fail to understand scientific research? The Government could easily introduce scientific research classes within weeks. Sadly, I doubt it will, being scared of upsetting Ukip’s voters.
David Eagar
Manningtree, Essex
The rump UK
Your correspondents need not worry about a name for the remainder of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland if or when Scotland secedes. The constitutionally correct name would be the United Kingdom of England and Northern Ireland. As ever, Wales doesn’t get a look in, having been annexed to the then-Kingdom of England by the Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542.
Tom Flynn
An idea blossoms
On my rail commute from New Southgate to Finsbury Park I pass miles of green embankments. The plant life seems to consist of grass, nettles and weeds. Why don’t councils plant wild flowers in such areas and stimulate insect populations? It would make the journey a bit more pleasant.
Josh Cluderay
London N11
That’s for sure
A C Grayling (Voices, 24 May) rightly praises the “careful estimations of a scientific world” in which “nothing is certain”. Yet he appears to have no problem claiming with certainty that there is no God.
T Hewlett
Widnes, Cheshire


Judges should be required to hold advocates who stray beyond acceptable bounds in contempt and this should be enshrined in legislation
Sir, Part of the blame for the dreadful Stafford child sex abuse trial, rightly castigated in your leading article (May 23), attaches to the Government. In 1999, Parliament enacted section 28 of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act. In theory, this enables the cross-examination of vulnerable witnesses to be held in private, ahead of trial, and to be video-recorded. This allows them to drop out of the proceedings at that point and also — as in the Stafford case — when the first trial is aborted, spares them from having to go through the ordeal again.
For the past 14 years successive governments, to their cumulative shame, have failed to bring this provision into force, even for the limited purpose of conducting an experiment. The latest reason given is the relatively small cost of the necessary equipment for recording.
Might the scandal of the Stafford case induce the Minister of Justice to find the necessary money?
Professor J. R. Spencer, QC
Sir, Your report of the abuse trial at Stafford Crown Court (May 23) reveals serious deficiencies not only in the trial process but also in the regulation of lawyers. That a trial about abuse should permit emotional abuse of child witnesses is among the most serious indictments one can imagine of our legal system.
Since any girl under 16 cannot have given lawful consent to sex why was evidence relating to alleged previous sexual conduct considered admissible? All barristers and their instructing solicitors are officers of the court — to avoid repetition of these events I suggest as an interim measure the Lord Chief Justice issues a practice direction to both judges and advocates reminding them of this and emphasising that one aspect of their responsibility to the court is to ensure that witnesses are treated with respect, courtesy and due regard for their vulnerability.
Judges should be required to hold advocates who stray beyond acceptable bounds in contempt. Parliament should enshrine this in legislation, together with a requirement for advocates to swear on oath at the start of a trial that they will act in accordance with these and all other obligations deriving from their status as officers of the court.
In the longer term I would suggest only judges and counsel with training in the handling of child witnesses be permitted to take part in such cases.
Trevor Knowles
Retired director of social services
Burgess Hill, W Sussex
Sir, The fault in this case lay with the trial judge in allowing the seven defendants to be represented separately. The evidence showed that the accused acted as a group and as a group they should have been represented, unless one or other of them broke ranks and created a conflict of interest among the members of that group.
Roger Everest
Defence Counsel, 1969-2009
Pontyclun, Rhondda Cynon Taf
Sir, After reading William Austin in his Letters from London in 1802 and Richard Whately in Elements of Rhetoric (1840), it would appear that little has changed in the way barristers are allowed to behave in our courts. There is a clear need for many procedural reforms and one of them would be the introduction of the right of objection by the opposing counsel such as exists in America and with which we are all familiar from films and television.
Peter Ivens
London WC1H

All our efforts at liberal multi-cultural tolerance are being cynically used by radical Islam to attack our society’s core values
Sir, Dr T. Hargey , the Imam of the Oxford Muslim Congregation, condemns the killing of Drummer Lee Rigby “without reservation” (letters, May 25) and then goes on to imply that it was Tony Blair’s invasion of Iraq that was responsible for it.
It is this kind of double-speak, stoking the fires of resentment against the West, that make some of us wonder whether moderate Muslims are doing enough to combat the extremists within their own ranks.
Stan Rosenthal
Haywards Heath, W Sussex
Sir, Dr T. Hargey relates the Woolwich brutality to Tony Blair’s illegal invasion of Iraq. He must recognise that opposition to the British forces engagement in Iraq and other places is not restricted to Muslims alone.
A majority of the British public of all faiths and persuasions was opposed to this involvement, but one’s opposition must be expressed through debates, education and lobbying of the parliament; urging the Government to withdraw troops.
The difficulty for the naive follower is that the preacher convinces him that it is his personal, individual duty to fight the perceived injustice of invasion and act in the manner we have witnessed in Woolwich.
Nikhil Kaushik

As a critically rigorous, academic discipline, Religious Studies can benefit a child’s academic imagination and understanding
Sir, In an increasingly complex, even fragmented world, it is the birthright of every school student to become literate in the ideas and beliefs that are shaping the future; Ruth Gledhill’s report on the decline in public understanding of religion (May 24) is a telling indicator of what an opportunity there is to enrich all school pupils with a modern, objective appreciation of religious and non-religious views of life.
When events reported in the media stir up public debate, a mature democracy might well argue that its future citizens should be well versed in an informed understanding of their fellow neighbour. As a Religious Studies (RS) teacher, I find it humbling that so many students engage in discussion with each other so attentively, positively and creatively.
As a critically rigorous, academic discipline, RS can have great benefit for a child’s academic imagination, but how much more impact will that individual have as an adult in a modern society that needs real, considerate dialogue.
R. E. Lee
Head of Religious Studies,
Trinity School, Croydon


In the face of difficulties for any adults who seek an assisted death, the need to support their children must not be forgotten
Sir, My senior colleagues are to be commended for supporting legislation that will increase the choices that a number of adults can make about their own destiny (letter, May 18). However, because parental death is well recognised as a trigger for childhood difficulties, it is to be hoped that the regulatory guidance that will follow enactment of the proposed Bill will require the provision of adequate support for the children of anyone seeking an assisted death.
In the face of difficulties for any adults, the needs of their children must not be forgotten.
Dr Peter Green
Designated Doctor and Consultant for Child Safeguarding,
Wandsworth Clinical Commissioning Group and St George’s Hospital,
London SW12


SIR – I read an article in a country magazine recently about the red kite, proclaiming its re-introduction to be a “great success story”. I don’t agree.
We know that this bird, albeit beautiful, was persecuted to near extinction from the British Isles at the end of the 19th century –and perhaps for good reason.
This large raptor has a voracious appetite for the same food prey as our delicately balanced population of barn, tawny and little owls and kestrels while also preying on leverets and taking the chicks of ground-nesting birds including pheasant, partridge, duck and lapwing. In the Chilterns, red kites are now more readily seen than our once common, and infinitely more melodious, sparrow, starling, and skylark. These were abundant in our childhoods but their numbers continue to decline.
Millions of us feed songbirds in our gardens during the winter and early summer in the hope of arresting their decline, yet I find the practice of those who feed kites in their gardens in order to enjoy an aerobatic display, somehow rather distasteful. In the same way, I feel uncomfortable about a bird that has no fear of man whatsoever and will sit tight in a tree however loudly one shouts or claps one’s hands.
The countryside, and towns for that matter, are overrun with protected raptors and the last thing that our embattled wildlife needs is yet another.
Paul Sargeantson
Britwell Salome, Oxfordshire
SIR – Words struggle to describe my deep anger at the audacity of the cowardly attack on our off-duty soldier in broad daylight in Woolwich. This has been an attack on every one of us and the nation stands united in its abhorrence and disgust.
But hard lessons need to be learned about who knew what about the radical ideology of the murderous thugs who perpetrated this crime. It is alleged that at least one of them was already known for his overtly jihadi views, and we need to know whether preemptive action could have indeed been taken by the security agencies.
This attack has also sadly exposed the failure of British Muslim organisations and the complacent attitude of previous governments in cosying up to them. I have yet to see a single British Muslim organisation or educational institution that confronts in a comprehensive manner the pernicious anti-British propaganda that is rife among new converts to Islam in schools, higher-education institutes, prisons and other social circles.
Whether in mosques or madrasas, British Muslim youth need to learn the fundamental democratic values of Britain and its core national ethos. When it comes to the internal security of this country, every Muslim youth should be a soldier and a watchful guard.
They need to learn that members of our Armed Forces heroically fulfil the tasks entrusted to them and that foreign policy is an expression of our national interests enacted via legitimate means.
Related Articles
The resurgent red kite is a menace to other species
26 May 2013
Dr Lu’ayy Minwer Al-Rimawi
Visiting Fellow, Harvard Law School
Director, Master’s Programme in Islamic Law, BPP Law School
SIR – I’ve heard many prominent politicians, including Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, make the point that Wednesday’s horrific atrocity has nothing to do with normative Islam. I am sympathetic to these statements, since in a largely peaceful, tolerant British society, the last thing we need is the start of sectarian violence.
Nevertheless, I do hope that behind the calming words, there is a re-assessment by those in power of the nature of the threat posed by fundamentalist Islam to our (including American and Western European) society.
Islam is a private and peaceful religion to most in Britain, but to many adherents, particularly in the Middle East and parts of Africa, it is a dominating “way of life” largely intolerant of other religious beliefs and practices.
Warren Braham
Kenton, Middlesex
SIR – There are fanatics posing as followers in all religions, and all religions at some period or another have had blood on their hands. I pray that British people won’t use this incident as an opportunity mindlessly to attack the Muslim community. To do so would only create more hatred and spark further violence.
As Lord Reid of Cardowan warns us, we should not play into the perpetrators’ hands but remember that the “dividing line is not between Islam and non-Islam. It is between the terrorists and everyone else.”
Yvette Durham
Bexbach, Saarland, Germany
SIR – As an advanced society we believe in justice, which protects the innocent as it condemns the guilty. The perpetrators of this crime will face justice, and then we must move on. In treating them as we would any other criminals, we will show those who would emulate them in the name of martyrdom that we are not afraid, that we will not be terrorised and that they are not divine. They are criminals and will be treated as such.
We must swallow our anger and offer our condolences to the friends and family of Lee Rigby. Meanwhile his killers will feel the full weight of justice as they live long, lonely lives, far from the society they wronged.
Connor Simmons
Loughton, Essex
SIR – Did the news networks, in their unflinching reporting of the terrible murder of a serving soldier, not think about his family? I had to turn the coverage off as I deemed the images gruesome, hugely intrusive and deeply insensitive.
Kim Halliday
Newport, Essex
David Cameron must stand up to the EU
SIR – With France as well as Britain in haste to introduce gay “marriage”, a cynic would suspect that the EU has somehow ordered such a redefinition of what has been accepted for thousands of years.
With the Chancellor being outvoted and Britain now supinely acceding to Brussels’ demand for an additional £1.4 billion to the EU budget, it is no wonder long-standing Tory supporters are losing all faith in David Cameron’s logic.
If the Marriage Bill is forced through then the Tories will deserve to be on the opposition benches in the next parliament. Mr Cameron needs to show a bit of backbone. Stating categorically that Britain will now deduct £1.4 billion from our contribution to next year’s EU coffers will ensure that he is listened to a bit more carefully by the EU elite in the future.
B J Colby
Portishead, Somerset
SIR – Re-negotiating our EU status is a non-starter, as the re-instatement of Mr Cameron’s much-vaunted budget cuts clearly shows. For all his professed euro-scepticism, the impression remains that he would rather see Britain in the EU under Labour than out, under the Conservatives.
Chris Jones
Croydon, Surrey
SIR – The in-out EU referendum has become necessary, and most urgent, because of the lack of persuasive debate from any of the established parties.
These parties only pretend to be different, arguing on smaller details, and continue to mimic each other on foreign policy, defence, business, economics, and even on education and health.
It is not Ukip that has only one policy, it is the established parties, who, in claiming their so-called centre ground, appear to be afraid to discuss their convictions or debate the rights and wrongs of any issue. And so they are left with only one policy – to do exactly what the overseas government in Brussels tells them.
Doug Knox
Sunderland, Co Durham
SIR –David Cameron has lost the plot; his promise of a referendum is a sop to defer facing the electorate as long as possible. He is a Europhile at heart, and will continue to vacillate and squirm over this, as his past record shows.
Likewise, his determination to push through same-sex marriage legislation is seen as further proof of his detachment from reality; having to rely on Labour’s support for this is truly demeaning.
Michael Zanker
Glenfield, Leicestershire
Crowning glory
SIR – As head of the Church of England, our monarch presides over an organisation that undoubtedly has falling support.
On the other hand, as the leader of the British nation, the monarch rules over and enjoys the support of an increasingly diverse people of all faiths.
How fitting therefore that our new Archbishop has suggested that all Christian denominations and representatives of other faiths should play a part in the coronation of any future monarch (report, May 19).
Duncan Rayner
Sunningdale, Berkshire
Keeping the press free
SIR – Jacob Rees-Mogg’s article in support of press freedom (“If the press isn’t free, you aren’t”, Opinion, May 19), reminded me of the words of the Greek statesman Demosthenes (c.384-322 BC): “There is one safeguard known generally to the wise, which is an advantage and security to all, but especially to democracies against despots – suspicion”. I think this is apt in light of Mr Rees-Mogg’s article.
Phillip Potter
Farncombe, Surrey
Local war historians
SIR – Pam Clatworthy (Letters, May 19) is not alone in researching the lives of the men from her village who died in the First World War. I am investigating the 108 men of my old school who made the ultimate sacrifice. The names on the school memorial now mean something and I feel I know the men involved. It is hoped that my research will be presented in book form in time for the centenary and any profits from the sale will be donated to the Friends of the school.
John Beck
Epsom Downs, Surrey
Suit you, sir
SIR – Esther Rantzen (Opinion, May 19) thanks M&S for rekindling the love she previously had for them. But she only speaks for women.
Years ago I wrote to the managing director of M&S to say that there were thousands of frustrated male “peacocks” desperate to find well-styled colourful suits and jackets. Walk into any M&S branch today and look at the suits sections – they still look like funeral parlours.
Give us reds, blues, greens, yellows, purples – in fact, all the colours of the rainbow!
Richard Ward
Kew, Surrey
HS2 will strain our energy resources
SIR – In Andrew Gilligan’s article on HS2 (Gilligan on Sunday, May 19) he says, “Ministers have admitted that HS2, which will use large amounts of electricity, will fail to reduce CO2 emissions and may well increase them.”
Given the current state of play on likely energy supplies in the future, where will these huge amounts of electricity come from? Will we see trains stranded between stations due to power cuts?
Maureen O’Connor
Fareham, Hampshire
SIR – Currently, rail travel from Stoke-on-Trent to London takes under one and a half hours. Can the overwhelming cost to the country of HS2 (over £34 billion) really be justified?
Our local community, only one of many of lovely homes and ancient woodlands, will be utterly devastated. A fair compensation cost would run into millions and the damage to our countryside never reversed.
Surely it is better for everyone to update the existing rail facilities, as suggested by Sir Richard Branson?
The evidence shows that HS2 will only benefit the terminals, leaving the large areas in between worse off.
Patricia Bradley
Whitmore, Staffordshire
Drones over Ulster
SIR – The Police Service of Northern Ireland is to buy nine drones for the huge security operation at the G8 summit in County Fermanagh in June and afterwards to combat terrorism and crime.
When will we see the first armed drones in Northern Ireland airspace, and when will the first innocent person be killed by one? Innocent people are being killed in Yemen and northern Pakistan in particular, and many people in those areas claim they are living in constant fear and anxiety. Do we really believe this will never happen in Northern Ireland? There’s more to drones than simply saving on the costs that arise from the deployment of helicopters.
Louis Shawcross
Hillsborough, Co Down
Unorthodox deterrent
SIR – Some years ago I was in a pub in a remote part of the Scottish Highlands. One of the locals was chatting to me and mentioned the midge problem and that the best deterrent was brown sugar, rubbed all over one’s face.
“It stops them biting, does it?” I asked, and with guffaws from his pals he replied, “No, but it rots their teeth!”
Ray Byrne
Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire

Irish Times:

Sir, – Dr Anne Dee’s comments regarding the scale of the obesity crisis in Ireland are extremely worrying (Home News, May 23rd). The growth in overweight and obesity levels over the past 20 years is a problem of epic proportions which has yet to be significantly addressed by government. The affordability of foods high in salt, fat and sugar and the decline in general activity levels has led to what is referred to now as a “obesogenic environment”.
This epidemic is not only damaging our general health and wellbeing, but it is also posing a massive burden on a struggling public Exchequer. SafeFood estimates that the overweight and obesity crisis is costing the island of Ireland approximately €1.16 billion every year. In addition, SafeFood also state that this is a conservative estimate.
Unfortunately, succcessive governments have neglected to tackle this problem with the urgency it requires. I would not be so harsh however as Dr Dee in stating that the Fine Gael-Labour coalition has taken no action on this matter, as I do believe James Reilly is making important moves in the right direction to bring this problem under control. Unfortunately, the Government is being obstructed at almost every turn by extremely powerful and well-resourced organisations, such as Food and Drinks Association Ireland, which are are spending massive amounts of money to stop the introduction of measures aimed at curbing the rise in overweight and obesity levels. These included measures such as calorie counts on menus and traffic light warnings on food labels.
In order to effect change in a meaningful way, it is absolutely essential that Government, interest groups and communities throughout Ireland come together and stand up to these vested interests. It must become a priority if we are to halt this epidemic. – Yours, etc,
Howth Road,

Sir, – Your article “Tobacco smoke is biggest home pollutant in Ireland, EPA study finds” (Breaking News, May 21st) ignores some glaring facts that undermine the study itself.
First, this study measured inside air quality in a mere 11 homes in Ireland over a couple of months, but is being touted as a justification for looking at regulating smoking in our very homes. To put that in context, the largest study ever done into the effects of environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) in indoor environments was carried out on 118,000 Americans over a 38-year period. This then was the most significant examination into the alleged problem, but it was ignored because Prof Kabut and Prof Enstrom discovered that “ETS is of little or no consequence.”
That tiny sampling and the absence of a “control group,” makes the EPA study meaningless and without credibility. Rather, it appears to be an effort at sensationalism and as such, just a cheap shot at the 1.3 million of us who choose to smoke of our free will. – Yours, etc,
Forest Éireann,

Sir, – Arthur Beesley’s article (“Scrutiny of Ireland begins to bite in Apple tax inquiry”, May 22nd) reminds us of Ireland’s role in an international system of tax avoidance.
While the current spotlight is on Ireland’s role in reducing corporate taxes earned in a handful of developed countries, multiples of that – an estimated €120 billion – are lost to developing countries each year through aggressive tax avoidance facilitated in part by financial institutions in European countries.
EU Foreign affairs and development ministers will meet this week to make an important decision on the role the EU will play in global efforts to eradicate poverty and stop climate change. This will feed into a larger process taking place at the UN, beginning this September at an event co-hosted by Ireland, to review the Millennium Development Goals.
There is a consensus across civil society in Ireland, Europe and the developing world that this UN framework must be centrally based on human rights, equality and good governance.
But it is now also clear that to end world poverty we must address tax justice. Put simply, through our role in the international tax avoidance system, Ireland and Europe are responsible for denying governments the world over of the revenues they need to tackle poverty in their own countries. – Yours, etc,

Sir, – I was very pleased to see Peter McIlwaine’s letter (May 23rd). I am sure there are many mistakes in the transcription of the census returns of 1901 and 1911.
In the course of looking through them I found a glaring mistake in the 1911 census, Padraig Mac Piarais was shown as Patrick Henry Pearse. On checking the actual document it was clear that he had shown his name in the Irish form and had actually signed the form Padraig Mac Piarais. Another error was two OKennedy boys in Dublin shown as Corniae Cas and Fergus Lady. The correct names, as could be seen from the actual return, were Cormac Cas and Fergus Tadhg. I reported these errors several times over a year ago.
Eventually I got a phone call from a lady in the Archives. I told her my complaint and was astonished to hear that the transcription was done in India. She also said that due to lack of funds little could be done to rectify the faults. On checking this morning, I see that Patrick Henry Pearse has been removed but the correct name has not been entered. The incorrect OKennedy names are still there.
I am afraid that the same problems also arise with the transcription of names from the church records. I reported a mistake in my grandfather’s baptism record, but nothing has been done to correct it. Surely, given all the unemployed graduates in Ireland, some could be employed on a temporary basis and at a reasonable salary to correct the mistakes that have been reported by myself and, I am sure, many others. – Yours, etc,

Sir, – Instead of abolishing the Seanad, could we please abolish Dublin City Council? It costs far too much and many of its decisions are not in the public interest. For instance: the disgraceful decision to privatise bin collections in Dublin city in 2012; and the recent mad decision to resurface Grafton Street over 18 months at a cost of €4 million (Business, May 24th). – Yours, etc,
Shandon Crescent,
Phibsborough, Dublin 7.

Irish Independent:

Madam – I would like to strongly object to the publishing of John Crown’s hate-filled diatribe against Catholics in Ireland (Sunday Independent, May 19, 2013). His language was reminiscent of the type of phraseology that has preceded persecution throughout history.
Also in this section
Reject the dirty shirt
We need public transport
TD resign? You must be joking
As a Catholic, I felt not only insulted and deeply wronged but threatened.
Kathy Sinnott,
Co Cork
Madam – As a constant reader of your paper, I was shocked and very upset at the article by Prof John Crown (Sunday Independent, May 19, 2013). A large number of your readers are Catholic and must feel the same way as I do.
Catholic Church bashing is now very much the norm in Irish society. It is a pity that the Sunday Independent has joined in.
Our Constitution reflects the ethos of our people in its opening lines; we do not need this kind of invective from this man; he seems to an expert on everything, God help us.
The least you should do now is to apologise to your many offended readers.
Jim O’Sullivan,
Co Cork
Madam – I read with shock and amazement the article written by Prof John Crown (Sunday Independent, May 19, 2013) and wish to complain in the strongest possible way. As a member of the Catholic faith, I feel hurt and angered by the blatant hatred towards my faith present in this article. If this article had been levelled against any other group on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, disability or age etc, there would be an outcry by the same media. It has offended numerous people of the Catholic faith.
I believe that an apology to all Catholics living in Ireland, from both the Sunday Independent and Prof John Crown is required
Sheelagh Hanly,
Co Roscommon
Madam – What an incredibly arrogant and intolerant article by Prof John Crown, (Sunday Independent, May 19, 2013), epitomised by his stated assumption of “thinking people” sharing his viewpoint.
It is outrageous of him to suggest that those who for reasons of conscience (which may indeed by informed by the teaching of the Catholic Church) oppose legislation on abortion are giving political allegiance to the Holy See (a different concept) and are disloyal to the State and its Constitution.
This is the same false premise which was used in past centuries to justify the oppression and in some cases execution of Catholics in these islands.
Prof Crown is the ideological successor to Thomas Cromwell.
Ciaran Connolly,
Dublin 5
The headline on last week’s article was not suggested by Prof Crown.
Letters Ed
Madam –It was democratic of your paper (Sunday Independent, May 19, 2013) to enable former Taoiseach John Bruton to reply to strong criticism of his views on austerity, as reported in the media
Many would agree with him on a sustainable economic model, that is realistic and protective of the environment worldwide. He gave an example of how a German uses 40 times the amount of water of the average Egyptian and that we can’t expect other countries to help us out, when their economies are under pressure too.
His main point is that as a country we are spending far more than what is coming in with a current deficit. Irish people, however, do feel justifiably angry at how the main Irish banks were bailed out and saved by our State’s reserve funds in 2009 and the banks have not been showing much leeway in return. The pressure on the country and its people seems all one-way since.
Austerity in practice has been hard on a good proportion of the Irish population. St Vincent de Paul has spent millions of euro helping people in the last three years.
People are not spending money as before in coffee shops and restaurants, the life-blood of small towns around the country. They are still closing. The Sunday Independent reported on what is happening in Dun Laoghaire.
Most people have seen incomes drop and nearly everything else going up in price. John wrote on the need for the world to not increase its populations and not be so greedy of our planet. And he is right on that.
But, there are tens of thousands of Irish people who are genuinely feeling the pressures of austerity. About 150,000 have emigrated in the last four years.
I like John Bruton, but do not always agree with his views. It is really bad timing to say that these years of austerity will be worth it in the end, as we still endure it.
As his former boss, Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald, said at a cabinet meeting in the Eighties, that is all very well in practice, but what about in theory?
Mary Sullivan,
Cork City
Madam – Having watched the Eurovision Song Contest, I wondered if we should just pull out of the competition next year.
But then, I thought, hold on a minute. Instead of throwing in the towel, why not use the contest to lodge a national protest at what the whole Eurovision set-up has become?
Remember that much-loved episode of Father Ted in which Ted and Dougal sing My Lovely Horse? In the same episode they get to sing in the Eurovision, and come last… a case of art imitating a future real life situation.
Next year, we could enter a song something along the lines of the one the Craggy Island clerics made famous. The theme would be all the more poignant given the horse-in-the-burger scare that gripped the nation, and much of Europe.
Naturally, the song would need different words to the Father Ted version and of course the title couldn’t be the same.
How about My Lovely Horse’s Ass?
John Fitzgerald,
Callan, Co Kilkenny
Madam –Your article “One in seven on the dole has never worked a day in their life” (Sunday Independent, May 19, 2013), contains inaccurate information which I feel needs to be clarified.
The reporter refers to ‘Jobseeker’s Benefit’ several times in the article as the €188 payment that the unemployed receive. The article states that one in seven people in this State has been on benefit all their lives without having worked a day in their lives – this is impossible.
Let me clarify this for you. Jobseeker’s Benefit is paid to those who have paid PRSI contributions and find themselves unemployed. It is only paid to those who have worked. It is paid at a rate dependent on the contributions that have been made. Not everyone would be in receipt of €188 per week. Jobseeker’s Benefit can be claimed at full rate, and, provided PRSI contributions have been made, it is paid for a total of nine months only.
Those in receipt of Jobseeker’s Benefit pay a tax of 20 per cent on the payment they receive. This is calculated by Revenue when they return to work and is applied by reducing the tax credits of the person who was in receipt of benefit.
I believe the reporter should have referred to Jobseeker’s Allowance in this article. This is a State payment given to the unemployed that is means tested. Those in receipt of this payment need never have worked a day in their lives, nor do they pay a tax of 20 per cent on it. If they ever started working, their tax credits would not be reduced.
Rebecca Dobson,
Irish Independent


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