Clear Out

13 January 2014 Clear out

I go all the way around the park listening to the Navy Lark. Our heroes are in trouble, again. They have to test another secret communications device. Captain Povey knows ther every movement but does he? Priceless.

Clean car for tomorrow and clear out attic for Peter Rice

Scrabbletoday Mary wins and gets well over300, Perhaps Iwill win tomorrow.




Sir John Whitehead, who has died aged 81, was Ambassador to Japan from 1986 to 1992; it was his fourth diplomatic posting to the country, and throughout his career he did much to encourage economic ties between Japan and Britain.

Whitehead had first arrived in Tokyo in 1956, a year after joining the Foreign Office, and by the time he returned to London in 1961 he was proficient in the Japanese language. He was back in Tokyo as First Secretary (Economic) from 1968 to 1971 and later for a four-year posting as Minister (1980–84).

From the outset Whitehead was concerned to penetrate protectionist barriers in Japan, engaging in often complex negotiations with the various Japanese government ministries with the aim of promoting better opportunities for UK exports of goods and services. His task involved not only persuading the Japanese to meet British needs, but also suggesting the direction their nation needed to take if it was to become a key player in a global liberal market.

As Minister in the 1980s, when Margaret Thatcher was in No 10, Whitehead paid particular attention to encouraging Japanese investment in Britain; among the companies which responded positively were Nissan (which opened its car plant in Sunderland in 1986) and the consumer electronics manufacturer Hitachi Maxell.

Although he could be a hard taskmaster, Whitehead was admired by his fellow diplomats as a man of the highest principles who believed strongly in the Foreign Office and in the importance of its work. He had no time for glibness or shoddily-constructed arguments, and was fearless in the defence of his own position when confronted by his political masters.

Whitehead’s proactive inclinations led him beyond the sphere of trade to seek a generally more fruitful relationship between Japan and the UK. During his time as Ambassador, he explored with his hosts the problems surrounding many common social issues, such as health and the plight of the elderly, and began the first tentative exchanges on defence cooperation.

When Whitehead retired in 1992, the President of the Board of Trade, Michael Heseltine, appointed him the Department of Trade and Industry’s adviser on Japan.

John Stainton Whitehead was born on September 20 1932, the only child of schoolteachers in north London. He was still at primary school when his father died, and he went on to Christ’s Hospital, where he was a chorister, chess player and athlete. After National Service with the Army he read French and German at Hertford College, Oxford, then joined the Foreign Office.

Whitehead’s other postings included First Secretary in Washington (1964–67); Head of Personnel Services at the FCO (1973–76); and Counsellor in Bonn (1976–80). From 1984 to 1986 he was Chief Clerk — head of administration — at the FCO, where his first task was to manage the diplomatic fallout after the murder of WPC Yvonne Fletcher; she was shot in St James’s Square by an unidentified gunman in the Libyan embassy on April 17 1984, as a result of which Britain broke off diplomatic relations with Libya.

Whitehead was appointed CMG in 1976; CVO in 1978; KCMG in 1986; and GCMG in 1992.

After retiring from his diplomatic career, he was much in demand among companies which valued his experience of the Far East. He was chairman of Deutsche Morgan Grenfell Trust Bank (Japan) from 1996 to 1999, and a non-executive director of Cadbury Schweppes (1993–2001) and Serco Group (1994–96). He was an adviser to Morgan Grenfell (later Deutsche Morgan Grenfell, Group, 1992–99); Deutsche Asset Management Group (1996–2000); Cable and Wireless (1992–2002); Sanwa Bank (1993–2000); Tokyo Electric Power Co (1993–2002); Inchcape (1992–96); and Guinness (1992–97).

In 2006 Whitehead was appointed Grand Cordon, Order of Rising Sun (Japan), 2006. Two years later he became chairman of the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation, which promotes closer links between the countries.

Among his interests were classical music. He was a good amateur pianist, and in 2004 he completed a degree in the History of Music from the Open University.

John Whitehead married, in 1964, Carolyn Hilton, with whom he had two sons and two daughters. Devoted to his family, while he was Ambassador in Tokyo he took his children on a specially arranged tour of Japan to instil in them the importance of the relationship between the two countries.

Sir John Whitehead, born September 20 1932, died November 8 2013




When reading the blog Patients deserve the truth: health screening can do more harm than good (3 January), we were disappointed by the misrepresentation of Breast Cancer Campaign and the comment we gave at the time of the launch of the breast-screening leaflet.

The blog accuses Breast Cancer Campaign of being “nonsensical” and implied that we had said that all women should attend screening when invited. In fact, the blog failed to accurately represent our original comment, which in part stated: “Breast Cancer Campaign encourages all women to be breast aware and attend screening appointments when invited.” In addition, by choosing to quote only a small selection of the comment, the references to over-diagnosis and the potential risks associated with screening were also missed, which misrepresented our balanced message.

It was also disappointing to see the suggestion in the blog of our quote having “marred” the launch of the breast-screening leaflet. It is not clear how this was the case and seems an irrational response to what was a considered message.

As a breast cancer charity, we fully understand the need to clearly present women with the benefits and also the risks of screening, and we aim to offer responsible advice, based on the evidence available. We based our comment in this instance on our reflections of the conclusions of the independent breast screening review which reported in October 2012. The outcome of the review acknowledged the issue of over-diagnosis but also concluded that screening does save lives by helping to detect breast cancers earlier.
Dr Lisa Wilde
Director of research, Breast Cancer Campaign


Bernard Porter’s fine review of The History of Oxford University Press (Review, 11 January) surely goes too far in asserting that this 876-page book is “way beyond the means of almost anyone, let alone academics”. Of course the book is not of interest to a large percentage of the population, but calling it expensive is a cheap populist shot. It is less than a ticket to almost any Premier League soccer game or a case of acceptable wine, and would take a lot longer to get through.
Professor Michael Levi

• Saturday started well with Ian Jack’s excellent column (An MBE for hairdressing?, 11 January), as usual observing a current event with wide historical perspective, then summing it up elegantly. Following that, a Dumbarton away win against the Blue Brazil and two Scottish wins in rugby and, seriously, finding the correct wallpaper for our kitchen set a standard, unfeasibly high I suspect, for the rest of 2014.
Gordon Milloy

• Gosh! The leaps and bounds of technology: 3D printing using pasta (Letters, 11 January). Could this possibly lead to alphabet spaghetti? Now that would be groundbreaking.
Jim Ensom
Manningtree, Essex

•  May I congratulate your subscription department on giving us the first 2014 Christmas offer (page 2, early editions, 10 January).
Ken Neades
Carnoustie, Angus


Supporters of civil liberties should think twice about lauding plans for police officers to carry body-worn cameras (Not exactly trigger-happy, but police need to work much harder to build trust, 10 January). Even if we accept that footage will be neither lost nor tampered with, we can be far from sure that it will deliver justice. Indeed, rather than supporting justice, the use of filming by UK police forces has led to abuses of power. Increasingly, joint forward intelligence teams are deployed to capture images of legitimate and law-abiding protesters, which are unjustifiably added to databases. It is noticeable, however, that officers tend to be hypersensitive to having their own pictures taken, often spuriously quoting section 23 of the Terrorism Act. It is tempting to suggest that if the Met is in earnest about improving its reputation, it’s not cameras that are needed but mirrors.
Nigel Rayment

• One significant benefit of the police wearing cameras is that finally they can go back to patrolling singly rather than in pairs. The benefits of this are well established: when not distracted by mutual chatting, officers are more observant, less confrontational and more readily engage with the public. Justifiable concerns about how to summon help can be addressed by them wearing a GPS device. If London Transport can know where all its buses are in real time, the Met can do likewise for its foot patrols. I’m sure the Police Federation has a well-rehearsed list of reasons why single patrols are not possible, but the productivity gains are surely too great for vested interests to delay progress. It is a shame that Boris Johnson, having fought so hard for political control of the Met, has not taken the lead in doubling police productivity.
Philip Cunningham

• Having been calling for police to wear body-worn cameras for years, I naturally welcome the decision for firearms officers to begin trials, in light of the Mark Duggan shooting (Stop and search could be curtailed after Duggan verdict, 10 January). But most of the tension between the police and some communities comes from day-to-day contact such as stop and search. Therefore we should pilot body-worn cameras on all officers in areas of London where confidence in the police is low. The short-term cost will be more than offset by the proven reduction in the cost of complaints and in improved community relations.
James Cleverly
London assembly member (Con)

• The professionalism and competence of the Met armed response team in the Duggan case stands in sharp contrast to that of the team that responded to the murder of Lee Rigby. The latter had to respond with no notice to unknown assailants who in the event were armed with gun and machete and who immediately attacked the officers. They disarmed their attackers, avoided making martyrs of them and were able to see them receive justice. The former team failed on all these counts. In a pre-planned operation, they succeeded in shooting dead someone who the jury believed was not armed and turned a criminal into a martyr and set off violent disorder on the streets.
John Vincent

• The mayor of London’s plan to buy water cannon for the Metropolitan Police is a worrying move that looks as if it is being rushed through; he is planning on purchasing the water cannon in mid-February. This gives very little chance for Londoners to express their views; such a monumental shift in policing needs a proper public debate. A clear case for water cannon to be used on the streets of London has not been made. They are expensive and no substitute for a properly resourced police service. Since 2010, we’ve lost 2,900 police officers and 2,370 PCSOs; that’s nearly 10% and more than 50% lost respectively.

The effectiveness of water cannon in a fast-moving situation is not clear; one of the main issues from the 2011 riots was there weren’t enough police officers deployed quickly enough and the police’s tactics were inadequate. As the deputy mayor for policing and crime at the time of the riots, Kit Malthouse, told the London assembly police and crime committee in February 2012, “[we] fall slightly into the trap of thinking there is a technological solution to these issues, and the truth is water cannon does not stop a riot.”

The proposal to purchase water cannons for the Met Police will be discussed at the London assembly police and crime committee on 30 January.
Joanne McCartney
Chair, London assembly police and crime committee (Lab)

• The Met commissioner seems to be repeating a pledge that used prior to the introduction of the Taser when he says any water cannon weapon would be “rarely used and rarely seen”.
Jake Fagg

• Boris Johnson is probably right to think that a large and growing proportion of the population are not happy with the austerity that has been imposed on large sections of society, especially the young unemployed and underemployed people, but water cannon will not wash away the problem. Policies that create large-scale unrest need to be changed before demonstrations become necessary.
Brian Woodward

• After being vindicated, Andrew Mitchell observed that if police were willing to lie under oath about a member of the cabinet (Police officer faces prison after lying in Plebgate affair, 11 January), they were even more likely to do so about those from marginalised social groups, who would find it far harder than he did to prove their innocence. Mark Duggan, perhaps?
Jennifer Jenkins








The now leaked Operation Tiberius report of 2002, describing police corruption (report, 10, 11 January), and the policeman’s confession that he lied in the Mitchell incident of 2012 should come as no surprise. Corruption is endemic in any police force, however hard you try to eradicate it. The essence of policing is control; control means power; and all power tends to corrupt.

The police are often dealing with law-breakers: gangsters, thieves, drug dealers, murderers and fraudsters. This association with the criminal fraternity inevitably brutalises some members of the police force, who often take on the same characteristics as the very people they are trying to bring to heel.

But there is another important element to police corruption. The police commendably want to ensure the criminal gets his just deserts, but despite their genuine belief in a man’s guilt they do not have the requisite evidence. So you make up the evidence; hence a confession obtained by corrupt means. Often more effective is to embellish the truth with a lie, especially if the truth reflects badly on the alleged offender.

Despite his current smirking, Andrew Mitchell has nothing to be proud of. He was a Cabinet minister, yet he admits swearing at the police, at the same time knowingly trying to bicycle from the wrong exit in Downing Street, both pieces of misconduct which conceivably could have involved him in criminal sanctions. So to nail him really properly the police falsely accuse the minister of calling them plebs.

So one lesson is to behave yourself because that keeps you out of trouble; the second and more important lesson is that the police cannot always be trusted.

Our police force plays an essential role in society. You don’t have to like them, and I would be rather surprised if you did. But they do need our respect in order to be effective. This requires the force to be representative of the population at large; to be well trained; to be well paid; to be visible on our streets; and to receive good leadership from their own commanders. None of these criteria seems to be in operation at the present time.

David Ashton, Shipbourne, Kent

So, the “plebgate” policeman lied. If police can act this way to bring down someone as powerful as a Cabinet minister, then just imagine how they sometimes treat ordinary citizens, let alone demonstrators, animal rights and environmental activists, and so on.

Rupert Read, Norwich

The power of a property tycoon

Noting recent statements and the sheer brass neck of landlord Fergus Wilson, I am reminded of Ted Heath’s phrase, “the unacceptable face of capitalism” (“Landlord who wants to put 200 families out on the street”, 11 January).

Militating against David Cameron’s presentation of a genial face of private enterprise is the naked truth of this system where a very rich property tycoon, in pursuit of maximising his considerable wealth, will deprive honest and hard-working citizens of their homes, all with no redress whatsoever.

This is a stark reminder of the power gulf between the haves and the have-nots in our society, which enables Mr Wilson to pry into, judge and change the circumstances of his tenants, without fear of any reciprocal action. His wealth enables him to inflict his prejudices upon decent families, causing them upheaval and anguish. His explanation that it is simple economics underlines the fact that we are not all in this together.

Make no mistake, this is the real face of capitalism.

Howard Pilott, Lewes

Why do we need the people in wigs?

Barristers went on strike over legal aid fees. Can anyone explain why we need legal aid in these days of well-paid, independent judges and randomly selected juries?

If someone is guilty in a criminal case or wrong in a civil case, why should we spend public money trying to help them “prove” they are innocent or right? On the other hand, if they are innocent or right, why can’t they simply tell their own story truthfully in their own words, rather than tell someone with a wig who then at second-hand has to tell the judge and jury or prompt his client with the “right” thing to say?

If there is doubt about the legal technicalities, surely the judge can resolve that to say what actually is the law.

Is the real trouble our point-scoring adversarial system, as also used in Parliament, rather than a pure investigative system to get at the truth?

H Trevor Jones, Guildford

The Government believes that the cost of justice for ordinary citizens, with Legal Aid at £39 a year per head of the population, is too expensive and must be reduced. In comparison, the annual cost per head of the population for the Common Agricultural Policy is £176.

As the first responsibility of any government is the safety of its people, do our current politicians believe that this stops with our police, military and security services? For an ordinary citizen, it is of more immediate importance that they can rely on our elected representatives to ensure that each of us, if having to face a day in court, does so with appropriate legal representation, not depending solely on what an individual defendant or plaintive can, or cannot, afford.

Malcolm MacIintyre-Read, Much Wenlock, Shropshire

‘War on drugs’ is a  war on people

John Rentoul is correct that “the war on drugs” is a cliché (8 January). It is also untrue. The drug laws around the world are a war on people. They make criminals of millions of cannabis users who have usually done little harm to themselves and none to anyone else. Cannabis, like alcohol and any other drug, can be harmful, but making it illegal doesn’t stop many people from using it. It just pushes up the price and means there is no quality control.

People who don’t want to break the law are turning to “legal highs”, some of which are proving to be much more damaging than many illegal drugs, and certainly more harmful than cannabis.

Rentoul is incorrect to say that “advocates of legalising cannabis tend not to propose legalising harder drugs”. If anything, many of them would put legalising the most dangerous drugs first, because they cause the most harm. They want drug use taken out of the criminal justice system and dealt with as a medical and social problem. Only then will we begin to get rid of the criminal dealers and be able to help those afflicted by drugs

Many police officers are probably too busy dealing with drunks and breaking up alcohol-induced fights to worry at all about a few people quietly smoking pot. It will be good when the law is as sensible and discriminating as the police.

Hope Humphreys, Creech St Michael, Somerset

Rogues and vagabonds need funerals

What an outrage! A “quirky vicar” takes the funeral of Ronnie Biggs, and dares to say something nice about him: and this is presented as newsworthy, complete with the usual rent-a-quotes from people who should know better (report, 11 January). I have news for them and you: any one of us would have done the same.

In my 45 years as a priest of the Church of England I have done the funerals of any number of rogues and vagabonds, as well as a few for people who were saints. But the important thing is that I don’t believe I have the right to make a distinction between them. If a family comes to me and asks me to do a funeral for them, I consider it my duty as a priest to do it as best I can without making any judgment: that is God’s job, not mine.

Mr Tomlinson is not “reinventing Christianity” as you put it: he is simply doing what thousands of clergy have been doing for many years without the media noticing it.

John Williams, West Wittering, West Sussex

What about the squeezed middle?

I agree that an increase in the minimum wage will help the low-paid and boost the economy (report, 8 January). But what about those of us who earn above the minimum wage but well below the average wage? In order to make both the low-paid and the rich better off, those of us who are neither continue to see our incomes fall in real terms.

Paul Winter, South shields, Tyne & Wear

An old hippie remembers

Isn’t John Walsh (9 January) showing his age a bit, to remember Joni Mitchell telling an audience “You’re behaving like tourists”. We both must have been at the Isle of Wight Festival together in 1970, although with 500,000 people there, I don’t remember us meeting up.

Peter Gibson, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire

It’s an honour, Prime Minister

David Cameron’s barber was created an MBE in the honours list. Could he also make Rebekah Brooks’s horse Raisa (the one lent to her by the police) a consul?

Richard Knights, Liverpool






Clearly there are wider issues at play that the profession needs to look at

Sir, Nigel Lithman, QC, chairman of the Criminal Bar Association (letter, Jan 9), bemoaning the lack of income of barristers is nothing new. When I was considering a career at the Bar some 30 years ago I inquired how much I might expect to earn. I was told that there were 20,000 barristers in the country, that there was only enough work for 10,000 barristers and all of that work was done by 5,000 barristers.

It would appear little has changed in the intervening period.

Ian Cherry

Preston, Lancs

Sir, Does the chairman of the Criminal Bar Association really expect us to believe the average earnings of the average barrister are less than those of a bus driver?

Mike O’Malley

Orpington, Kent

Sir, After reading your Law pages (Jan 9) it occurred to me that lawyers should no longer be divided into two tribes, solicitors and barristers, but into those who are concerned with business, and those who are concerned with justice.

If society considers justice as important as business, should not practitioners of each receive the same financial rewards? If so, who is to pay them? Should we not allocate the financial benefit to the UK from lawyers’ business activities to the funding of justice, in all its manifestations, via the mechanics of government?

Arthur Mellor

Retired Solicitor

Bramhall, Cheshire

Sir, Further to Nigel Lithman’s concern about the barrister income figures that I quoted in interviews this week, the Ministry of Justice and Legal Aid Agency (LAA) recently published the full list of fees paid to barristers undertaking work for the state last year (2012/13).

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and LAA paid the average barrister judged to be working full time in criminal law £84,000. We use this figure as it is representative of average incomes for those receiving fees of more than £10,000 a year. This figure, we believe, tells the clearest picture as it’s most likely to portray those working full time for the state. However, if those who work part-time are included, the mean paid-in fees last year was £72,000.

The figure used combined CPS and LAA fees as barristers are able to, and often do, a mix of this work and in some cases take on private work on top of this (not represented in these figures). The public have every right to know about the fees paid to lawyers by the state. It is also worth saying that we are clear that a range of fees are paid to lawyers and that some do earn low amounts.

There have been accusations of “hiding”, that barristers’ take-home pay is lower than the fee income paid. That is nonsense. I can only comment on what is paid out by the LAA and CPS. How the professions ensure that what they are paid in fee income results in the maximum personal income is for them.

We know there are too many lawyers chasing too little work which is impacting on average fee income from the state. Clearly there are wider issues at play that the profession needs to look at.

We have engaged constructively with lawyers for months, and the Justice Secretary and I remain open to sensible suggestions that enable us to make the savings we have no choice but to find.

Shailesh Vara, MP

Legal Aid Minister


The UN now supports three quarters of the country’s 20 million population

Sir, This month’s Geneva II conference must focus exclusively on the needs and wishes of the Syrian people, whose call for freedom has been brutally suppressed since 2011. To bring about a just, sustainable resolution to the conflict it must address two fundamental, interlinked issues.

First, it must chart the transition to a Syria free of Assad’s rule. The diplomatic success on removing chemical weapons must not deflect focus from the core challenge: a dictator whose regime continues to kill, maim and drive from their ruined towns countless thousands using conventional weapons.

Secondly, Geneva II must redress the military disadvantage faced by the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which does not receive the funding and weapons which their Islamist and al-Qaeda-linked rivals obtain from extremist networks outside Syria. In return for showing its commitment to a political process and political reform, the Syrian Opposition Coalition must receive more external support for the nascent governance structures, such as a new Ministry of Defence, that it is developing in the areas under its control and for the FSA. If we fail to do this, a combination of Assad and the extremists could annihilate the only opposition who are moderate and favour a peaceful solution.

While diplomats talk, time is running out for Syria’s civilians. The UN now supports three quarters of the country’s 20 million population, including 2.5 million in opposition-controlled areas which are hard to reach, and 2.3 million refugees. According to the World Health Organisation, Syria’s healthcare system has “totally broken down”, and a polio epidemic looms.

With the UN seeking $6.5 billion to alleviate the humanitarian crisis — more than it needs for the rest of the entire world, Geneva II must move us closer to a solution. The international community can do this by bolstering the Syrian Opposition Coalition in creating a secure hub for moderates, capable of defending itself and establishing a democratic, secular and tolerant future for Syria.

Brooks Newmark, MP

Alistair Burt, MP

Sir Malcolm Rifkind, MP

Andrew Mitchell, MP

Sir Richard Ottaway, MP

Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, MP

Bernard Jenkin, MP

Nadhim Zahawi, MP

Robert Halfon, MP

Jeremy Lefroy, MP

Sir Menzies Campbell, QC, MP

Meg Munn, MP

Gisela Stuart, MP

Ben Bradshaw, MP

Frank Field, MP

Sir Tony Cunningham, MP

John Woodcock, MP


Three meningitis vaccinations already in the Childhood Immunisation Schedule have been very successful in preventing unnecessary child deaths

Sir, We, 118 doctors, nurses and scientists who deal daily with the consequences of meningitis, urge the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, to make the right decision about a meningococcal B (MenB) vaccine for children in the UK.

The UK has among the worst child health outcomes in Western Europe. Mr Hunt can help to improve this by authorising the introduction of a new vaccine for MenB, the leading cause of bacterial meningitis in the UK. Mainly affecting children, this devastating disease is difficult to diagnose, strikes fast and kills or seriously disables in hours.

Three meningitis vaccinations already in the Childhood Immunisation Schedule have been very successful in preventing unnecessary child deaths and long-term complications. The new MenB vaccine is being considered for use by the NHS. While some further data is still needed, the vaccine is estimated to cover 88 per cent of MenB disease in the UK.

The new MenB vaccine has been made available for use privately for those who can afford it, but it is a cause for concern that, after years of research, a life-saving vaccine which could significantly increase the protection offered to all our children, might simply be shelved.

If this were to happen the negative impact on disease prevention and future vaccine research would be substantial.

We urge the Secretary of State to take the lead and give a clear message that he genuinely supports child health and innovative vaccine development by ensuring that a MenB vaccine for infants and adolescents is introduced as soon as possible.

Dr Simon Nadel, Consultant in Paediatric Intensive Care, St Mary’s Hospital, London

Professor Dlawer Ala’Aldeen, Professor of Clinical Microbiology, University of Nottingham

Dr Tom Allport, Senior Paediatrician, North Bristol NHS Trust

Dr Lorraine Als, Research Associate, Imperial College London

Dr Ed Bache, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Birmingham Children’s Hospital

Dr Paul Baines, PICU Consultant, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital

Dr Nick Beeching, Senior Lecturer in Infectious Diseases and Clinical Director, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine

Dr Sumit Bokhandi, Consultant Paediatrician and Specialty Tutor in Paediatrics, Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Dr Jennie Borg, Research Psychologist, University College London

Dr Emma Bould, Consultant Paediatric Intensivist, Royal London Hospital

Professor Philip Butcher, Professor of Molecular Medical Microbiology, St George’s University of London

Professor Enitan Carrol, Chair in Paediatric Infection, University of Liverpool

Dr Bambos Charalambous, Senior Lecturer in Clinical Microbiology, Royal Free & University College Medical School

Dr Beth Cheesebrough, Research Fellow in Paediatric Infectious Diseases, Imperial College London

Dr Deborah Christie, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Dr Stuart Clarke, Reader in Infectious Disease Epidemiology, University of Southampton

Professor Jonathan Cohen, Emeritus Professor, Brighton and Sussex Medical School

Dr Mehrengise Cooper, Consultant Paediatric Intensivist and Paediatric Tutor, Imperial College London

Dr Sian Cooper, Consultant Paediatric Intensivist, Leeds General Infirmary

Dr Aubrey Cunningham, Senior Lecturer in Paediatric Infectious Diseases, Imperial College London

Dr Andrew Curran, Consultant Paediatric Neurologist, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital

Dr Ffion Davies, Consultant in Emergency Medicine, Leicester Royal Infirmary

Dr Patrick Davies, Clinical Lead, Paediatric Intensive Care Unit, Nottingham Children’s Hospital

Dr Naomi Davis, Consultant in Paediatric Orthopaedic Surgery, Royal Manchester Childrens Hospital

Dr Mathew Diggle, Clinical Lead for Molecular Diagnostics, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust

Dr Garth Dixon, Consultant Paediatric Microbiologist, Great Ormond Street Hospital

Dr Liam Dorris, Paediatric Neuropsychologist, Royal Hospital for Sick Children (Yorkhill)

Dr Nicholas Embleton, Consultant Neonatal Paediatrician, Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Ms Sian Falder, Consultant Plastic Surgeon, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital

Dr Helen Fardy, Consultant Paediatrician, University Hospital of Wales

Professor Saul Faust, Honorary Consultant Paediatrician and Director, NIHR Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility

Dr Eva Galiza, Research Fellow, Paediatric Infectious Diseases, St Georges University of London

Professor Elena Garralda, Emeritus Professor of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Imperial College London

Dr Stephen Granier, General Practitioner, Whiteladies Medical Group Bristol

Dr Jim Gray, Consultant Microbiologist, Birmingham Children’s Hospital

Dr Martin Gray, Director PICU, St George’s Hospital London

Professor George Griffin, Professor of Infectious Diseases and Medicine / Honorary Consultant Physician, St George’s University of London/ St George’s Hospital

Dr Scott Hackett, Consultant in Paediatric Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Birmingham Heartlands Hospital

Dr Rosie Hague, Consultant in Paediatric Infectious Diseases and Immunology, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

Ms Caroline Haines, Consultant Nurse PICU/HDU, Bristol Royal Hospital for Children

Dr Steven Hancock, Lead Consultant (Paediatrics), Embrace Yorkshire & Humber Infant & Children’s Transport Service

Mr Andrew Harvey, Research Nurse, Bristol Royal Infirmary

Professor Paul Heath, Professor in Paediatric Infectious Diseases /Honorary Consultant in Paediatric Infectious Diseases, St George’s University of London/ St George’s Hospital

Dr Jethro Herberg, Senior Lecturer in Paediatric Infectious Diseases, Imperial College London

Dr Lee Hudson, Consultant Paediatrician, Great Ormond Street Hospital

Dr Mike Hudson, Honorary Senior Lecturer in the Department of Paediatrics, Imperial College London

Dr Warren Hyer, Consultant Paediatrician and Consultant Paediatric Gastroenterologist, St Mark’s Hospital and Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, London

Dr David Inwald, Consultant in Paediatric Critical Care Medicine, St Mary’s Hospital

Dr Hannah Jones, Post Doctoral Researcher, Institute of Child Health, University College London

Dr Laura Jones, Consultant in Paediatric Diseases, Royal Hospital for Sick Children Edinburgh

Professor Beate Kampmann, Professor of Paediatric Infection & Immunity, Imperial College London

Dr George Kassianos, Immunisation Lead, Royal College of General Practitioners

Dr Dominic Kelly, Consultant in Paediatrics and Paediatric Infectious Disease, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust

Dr Julia Kenny, Senior Clinical Research Fellow, Institute of Child Health, University College London

Dr Steve Kerr, Consultant in Paediatric Intensive Care Medicine, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital

Professor Nigel Klein, Consultant in Paediatric Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Great Ormond Street Hospital

Professor Simon Kroll, Professor of Paediatrics and Infectious Diseases, Imperial College London

Professor Jai Kulkarni, Consultant in Rehabilitation Medicine, University Hospital of South Manchester

Professor Harold Lambert, Emeritus Professor of Microbial Diseases, St George’s Hospital London

Dr Nick Lessof, Consultant Paediatrician, Great Ormond Street Hospital

Dr Paula Lister, Paediatric and Neonatal Intensivist, Great Ormond Street Hospital

Dr Hermione Lyall, Consultant in Paediatric Infectious Diseases, Imperial College London

Dr Nathalie MacDermott, Paediatric Speciality Trainee, Cwm Taf NHS Trust and Honorary Clinical Research Fellow at Imperial College London

Dr Roderick MacFaul, Consultant Paediatrician, Pinderfields General Hospital

Dr Iain MacIntosh, Consultant Paediatric Intensivist & Director PICU, Southampton General Hospital

Mrs Chris Mackerness, Senior Sister, PICU, Great North Children’s Hospital Newcastle

Dr Ian Maconochie, Lead Consultant in Paediatric Emergency Medicine, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust

Dr Robin Marlow, Research Fellow, University of Bristol

Dr Nuria Martinez-Alier, Paediatric Consultant in Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Evelina London Children’s Hospital

Dr Georgios Mavrogeorgos, Paediatric SHO, St George’s Hospital London

Dr Antoinette McAulay, Consultant Paediatrician, Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Dr Jillian McFadzean, Clinical Lead for PICU, Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh

Dr Fiona McGill, Clinical Research Fellow, University of Liverpool

Dr Michael McIntyre, Consultant Microbiologist, Wexham Park Hospital

Dr Alison McKendrick, Consultant in Rehabilitation Medicine, University Hospital of South Manchester

Ms Sheila McQueen, Head of Health, Community and Education Department, Northumbria University

Dr Esse Menson, Consultant in Paediatric Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Evelina London Children’s Hospital

Dr Benedict Michael, NIHR Doctoral Research Fellow, University of Liverpool

Dr Siraj Misbah, Consultant Clinical Immunologist, Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals NHS Trust

Dr Fergal Monsell, Consultant Paediatric Orthopaedic Surgeon, Bristol Royal Hospital for Children

Professor Richard Moxon, Emeritus Professor Paediatrics, University of Oxford

Dr Linda Murdoch, Lead Clinician in Paediatric Intensive Care, St George’s Hospital London

Dr Fiona Neely, Consultant in Health Protection/Public Health

Dr Nelly Ninis, Consultant Paediatrician, St Mary’s Hospital, London

Dr Vas Novelli, Consultant in Paediatric Infectious Diseases, Great Ormond Street Hospital

Dr Ifeanyichukwu Okike, Clinical Research Fellow, St George’s University of London

Professor Mark Pallen, Head of the Division of Microbiology and Infection, Warwick Medical School

Dr Kamal Patel, Consultant Paediatrician in Critical & Emergency Care, Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital Brighton

Dr Nazima Pathan, University Lecturer and Consultant in Paediatric Intensive Care, University of Cambridge and Addenbrooke’s Hospital

Dr Mark Peters, Consultant Paediatric Intensivist, Great Ormond Street Hospital

Dr Stephen Playfor, Consultant Paediatric Intensivist, Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital

Dr Jane Ratcliffe, Consultant in Paediatric Intensive Care, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital

Dr Martin Richardson, Consultant Paediatrician, Peterborough Hospital

Dr Anna Riddell, Paediatric Service Director, Royal London Hospital

Dr Christine Rollier, Research Associate, University of Oxford

Ms Gael Rolls, Senior Charge Nurse/Critical Care Co-ordinator, Yorkhill Hospital

Dr Robert Ross-Russell, Consultant Paediatrician, Addenbrooke’s Hospital

Dr Manish Sadarangani, Clinical Lecturer in Paediatric Infectious Diseases and Immunology, University of Oxford

Dr Tina Sajjanhar, Consultant in Paediatric Emergency Medicine, University Hospital Lewisham

Dr Julian Sandell, Consultant in Paediatric Emergency Medicine, Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Dr Martin Schweiger, Trustee, Thackray Medical Research Trust

Dr Andrew Seaton, Consultant in Infectious Diseases, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

Dr Tim Sell, Clinical Research Fellow, Oxford Vaccine Group

Professor Michael Shields, Professor of Child Health & Consultant Paediatrician, Queen’s University of Belfast & Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children

Dr Delaine Shingadia, Consultant in Paediatric Infectious Diseases, Great Ormond Street Hospital

Dr Matthew Snape, Consultant in General Paediatrics and Vaccinology, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust

Dr Mark Tighe, Consultant Paediatrician, Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust

Dr Yogi Thakker, Consultant Paediatrician, Milton Keynes Community Health Services

Dr Alistair Thomson, Consultant Paediatrician, Leighton Hospital

Dr Kent Thorburn, Consultant in Paediatric Intensive Care Medicine, Alder Hey Children’s Hospital

Dr Guy Thwaites, Clinical Reader in Infectious Diseases, King’s College London

Dr David Turner, Clinical Associate Professor and Honorary Consultant Microbiologist,

University of Nottingham and Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust

Dr Sam Walters, Consultant in Paediatric Infectious Diseases, Imperial College London

Dr Gabriel Whitlingum, Consultant Paediatrician – Neurodisability, Royal Hampshire County Hospital

Dr Tim Whittington, Consultant Paediatric Intensivist, John Radcliffe Hospital

Dr Ed Wilkins, Clinical Director of Infectious Diseases, North Manchester General Hospital

Dr Andrew Winrow, Consultant Paediatrician, Kingston Hospital

Dr Katie Yallop, Paediatric Registrar, Winchester Hospital

Dr Robert Yates, Consultant in Paediatric Intensive Care, Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital

Research shows that businesses driven by a social mission are far more likely to be led by women than mainstream businesses

Sir, Where the gender gap still exists in the workplace, business must look to the success stories of other emerging markets (“Women work more but pay gap widens”, Jan 9).

Women’s position in the ranks of the UK’s social enterprise sector has never been stronger. Research shows social enterprises — businesses driven by a social mission and that reinvest profits — are far more likely to be led by women than mainstream businesses: 38 per cent of social enterprises have a female leader, compared with 19 per cent of SMEs and 3 per cent of FTSE 100 companies. Some 91 per cent of social enterprises have at least one woman on their leadership team and just 9 per cent have male-only teams –— a striking figure when compared with mainstream SMEs — 49 per cent of which have male-only teams.

There’s still work to be done, but Britain’s social enterprise movement is fast becoming a natural home for the female entrepreneur. There’s a reason the social enterprise sector is outstripping mainstream businesses for growth and optimism and has had such a massive start-up rate in the past two years. If the rest of the business world took note, the potential for women in business could immensely improve.

Celia Richardson

Director of Campaigns

Social Enterprise UK


There can be no sensible arguments against making available the results of properly conducted research for open scrutiny

Sir, Matt Ridley falls into his own trap in his Opinion column (Jan 6), though the title “Roll up: cherry pick your research results here” is apposite, because that is exactly what Ridley does with respect to the research evidence for global warming.

There can be no sensible arguments against making available the results of properly conducted research for open scrutiny. The arguments for this have been rehearsed very effectively in health — and, in general, the biomedical research community has accepted these arguments. Indeed UK scientists pioneered the controlled clinical trial and the Cochrane Collaboration led the way in the rigorous meta-analysis of all sources of evidence to reach the most reliable conclusions allowing the implementation of “evidence-based” medicine. The pharmaceutical industry, which can certainly be criticised for past practices in not revealing the results of all clinical studies of new drugs, is now moving towards greater transparency, and drug regulators, such as the EMEA, are rightly pressing hard. Iain Chalmers, Ben Goldacre and others deserve much credit for their campaigning for openness.

The same can be said of the climate science community. Following the controversy over leaked University of East Anglia emails there have been substantial efforts in making source data openly available. It is partly through this openness and replicablility of findings by researchers in different institutes — the Berkeley Earth Island Institute analysis published last year is a case in point — that drew the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to the unassailable conclusion in its most recent report that “warming of the climate system is unequivocal”.

This report was a consensus led by 259 scientists, from 39 countries, which assessed the findings of all of the relevant, peer-reviewed scientific literature published between the previous report in 2007 and March of last year. Would that Matt Ridley applied the same rigour when it comes to evidence about the anthropogenic contribution to climate change. The “hockey stick” graphs, prominent as they were at the time, are just one small part of a massive global research effort that provides consistent and overwhelming evidence.

Sir Mark Walport, Chief Scientific Adviser to HM Government

Professor Stephen Belcher, Head of Met Office Hadley Centre





SIR – Jeremy Clarkson’s BBC documentary PQ17: An Arctic Convoy Disaster (Mandrake, January 5) did not do justice to the subject.

I was a naval rating on a destroyer escorting several of the convoys. I will never forget the immense seas, the frozen air, and the comradeship on the fo’c’sle. It was like a terrifying game of chess where the pawns carried the cargo, the destroyers were the knights and the king was the German battleship, Tirpitz. No amount of money could ever compensate the Merchant Navy crews. It is a sad truth that much of the munitions cargo was not compatible with Russian equipment.

Mr Clarkson’s account of life on board and the dangers involved was far from adequate — but how would he know?

William Mitchell
London NW1


SIR – The continued dumbing down of the once magnificent Radio 3 will not enable it to catch up with Classic FM in audience numbers (Letters, January 5). Classic FM is to be applauded for bringing great music to the awareness of a new listenership.

The novice listener should be able to move on to Radio 3 to broaden their musical experience. The high ideals of the BBC need to be restored as only then can the licence fee be justified. There is no need to compete with Classic FM’s sugary diet.

Richard Lee
Mitcham, Surrey

SIR – Radio 3’s crime, according to Darren Henley (Letters, January 5), is to invade Classic FM’s space with the unfair advantage of the licence fee. If, as Tony Newbery (Letters, January 5) claims, many once-loyal listeners are abandoning Radio 3, then who is the beneficiary if not Classic FM?

For the record, I find the presenters of morning Radio 3 likeable, scholarly and without the patronising tone which has sometimes characterised their Classic FM counterparts.

Brian H Sheridan
Sheffield, South Yorkshire

SIR – Somebody very high up at Radio 3 worships the piano. In at least six years I have yet to hear a Bach keyboard work played other than on a modern grand piano. Fine, but why the aversion to the harpsichord or clavichord?

Romantic organ music, other than the occasional Franck piece, is also a no-go area. Mr Henley is quite right, why are we subsidising this service?

Robert Lightband
Dundee, Angus

SIR – Darren Henley does not mention the Proms and other live events promoted by Radio 3, or its New Generation Artist scheme which has given so many artists, both home-grown and from abroad, the opportunity to develop their careers.

David Muir
Stoke Gifford, Gloucestershire

HS2 integration

SIR – Andrew Gilligan (Gilligan on Sunday, January 5) complains that HS2 services will not be “integrated” with the existing network as its trains will run into the current main station in only two of the seven cities on the new route. But this simply underlines the point that HS2 is needed to create new capacity.

Stations such as Birmingham and Leeds are full, and serious expansion of any rail services would need new infrastructure to be built. Building new stations for HS2 also allows them to be designed to take longer trains than could be accommodated at existing stations.

Mr Gilligan should also note that HS2 trains running beyond the new infrastructure will serve the present-day main station at 21 other towns and cities such as Stafford, Warrington, York and Newcastle. In London, the brand-new Old Oak Common station will link directly into London’s Crossrail, transfoming journeys to Heathrow and to the City or Docklands.

William Barter
Towcester, Northamptonshire

SIR – Simon Hope (Letters, January 5) says that “more than 3,000 miles of motorways and trunk roads constructed since the Sixties amounts to almost 30 times the land-take of the 350-mile HS2 twin-track railway.”

But motorways and trunk roads enable their users to branch off to numerous towns and other destinations at frequent intervals en route.

And how many travellers and tons of freight will be carried daily between London and Birmingham by HS2 compared with the M1/M6?

Richard Shaw
Dunstable, Bedfordshire

Blair the entrepreneur

SIR – Tony Blair seems to have considerable entrepreneurial talents (“Bumper year boosts Blair fortune”, report, January 5).

Yet he showed no such talent in the control of our country’s finances when Prime Minister.

Noel Charles
Silverstone, Northamptonshire

Harmful smacking

SIR – R H Wilshire (Letters, January 5) says “I’m sure that all adults know when physical chastisement is taken to extremes”. Unfortunately this is not true, especially for some people who have been beaten or abused as children.

If an adult is smacked or hit, this is regarded as assault, and legal action is taken. Smacking a child is a violation of trust and is harmful. Most children respond to communication or withdrawal of privileges. Smacking can render a child indifferent or defiant or cause him or her to lose confidence and self-worth.

Maxine Davies
Westbury-on-Trym, Gloucestershire

Teaching Forces

SIR – The new training programme to fast-track service personnel into the classroom (report, January 5) is not the “first” such scheme. After the Second World War, many suitable ex-service personnel attended teacher training colleges for one year, instead of the two that was normal at that time.

This emergency programme produced many excellent teachers. Of those I knew, two became primary school headmasters, one a deputy head.

John B Griffin
Leigh, Lancashire

New Year’s peeve

SIR – George Osborne tells us we must cut costs and lower our deficit. Then we read (The Week that Was, January 5) of a “multi-sensory firework display” to celebrate the New Year, costing £1.83 million and featuring peach-flavoured snow and banana confetti.

This is in a country where more and more people are relying on food banks. We can ill afford such extravagance.

Sian Jones
Tongwynlais, Glamorgan

The raid on pensions began under Brown

SIR – Your front-page report (January 5) rightly calls for an end to the pensions lottery and the murky acts of pensions companies that take excessive fees from funds.

The list of murky acts might also have included the sleight of hand by Gordon Brown when, as Chancellor in 1997, he removed tax relief on dividends earned by our pension funds, even as Tony Blair was preaching to us that we should all take more responsibility for our own retirements and rely less on the state. At a stroke, Mr Brown’s act removed around £5 billion per annum from private pension funds and this annual deficit continues to this day.

Terry Lloyd
Darley Abbey, Derbyshire

Mark Duggan verdict

SIR – It should not be assumed that every Briton of Afro-Carribean descent is enraged by the verdict that the killing of Mark Duggan was lawful. Many will be deeply concerned that gangs of young men carrying guns roam the streets and sometimes kill others. They will be worried by the risks to their children from the drug trade.

In order to create a climate of opinion that inhibits effective policing, the drug dealers are keen to promote the false notion that the police acted wrongly. All law-abiding citizens, whatever their ethnic origin, should support the police in their efforts to get guns and drugs off the streets on our behalf.

Frank Tomlin
Billericay, Essex

Carry on O’Carroll

SIR – Discussing the strange success of Mrs Brown’s Boys, William Langley (News Review, January 5) rightly points out the absence of any wit or subtlety but fails to put his own finger on the single reason for the success of this otherwise bawdy rubbish.

Brendan O’Carroll, in the main role, is a superb comedian. His timing of the verbal jibes and visual gags is quite brilliant. I note that he has been a stand-up comic for about 20 years – enough time to learn the craft.

Modern “alternative” comedians may be able to swear like Mr O’Carroll, but I’ve yet to see one who can match his prodigious talent for making people laugh.

Graham Fisher
Sale, Cheshire

Bunty mutineers

SIR – “You never want to pick a fight with an angry woman called Bunty” (Friends, December 29).

Oh dear – what have we Buntys done to deserve this?

Bunty Leatherdale
Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire

SIR – John Cridland’s enthusiasm for immigration (Business, January 5) overlooks the fact that one man’s cheap supply of labour is another man’s falling standard of living.

Downloading the relevant statistics from the Office of National Statistics website, I have calculated that an index for average real per capita GDP, set at 100 in the year 2000, now stands at 83.4.

This is over a period during which immigration has been massive. Yet there is no evidence on this basis of any benefit to Britain whatsoever. Indeed the reverse is the case.

The Government must stop listening to the partisan arguments of business and look instead to the national interest. The problem is less whether the migrants work or cheat the benefits or tax system so much as the total number of them.

Unless the Government finds a way of limiting immigration before the next election, I may be voting Ukip. It is surely preferable to endure another five years of Labour incompetence than face a future with no hope.

John Poynton
Amersham, Buckinghamshire

SIR – The debates on immigration concentrate almost entirely on economic matters.

Even if it could be indisputably shown that an increase in the number of immigrants would be to our financial advantage, do we want the population to rise to 80, 90 or 100 million?

Do we want new towns to be built in our national parks, housing estates on green belt land and hospitals and prisons in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty?

Leonard Macauley
Staining, Lancashire

SIR – I suspect that Ed Miliband’s promises to control immigration are pure electioneering. A Labour Government will not control immigration because of pressure from the Left, which sees votes in immigrants.

Mr Miliband was part of the Labour Government that allowed the uncontrolled immigration influx in the first place.

Prof Terry Langford
Milford on Sea, Hampshire

SIR – There are almost a million unemployed young people desperate for jobs in Britain.

The unskilled, low-paid jobs will continue to be filled by economic migrants, until school leavers realise that not all of them can expect to be employed in a well-paid, non-manual job.

We need those who are prepared to undertake such work. Should our education system change to accommodate this or is it too late?

Paul Caruana
Truro, Cornwall

SIR – Anyone who listened to William Hague’s 2001 speech in full (Opinion, January 5), would have known that when he spoke about a “foreign country”, he was talking not about immigration, but about EU interference in British affairs.

Besides being “a practical matter to be managed”, immigration is also an important issue, worthy of serious and honest debate.

Michael Laycock
Harrogate, North Yorkshire

SIR – Any land mass is over-populated when the economic activities of its inhabitants degrade the ecosystem more quickly than it can regenerate.

Economists prefer an increasing population, whereas ecologists argue that the survival of the human race depends on a gradual reduction.

The Government is rightly trying to reduce the financial debt facing future generations. Unfortunately, unless addressed with equal vigour, their environmental and demographic legacy is likely to cause a great deal more problems.

Chris Jones
Croydon, Surrey

SIR – According to Matthew d’Ancona (Opinion, January 5), we poor boobies don’t even know our own minds – we merely “cite this issue [immigration] as an emotive proxy for other anxieties: fear of economic insecurity, of change, of losing out”. That’s that problem solved, then.

Robert Ramage
West Wickham, Kent



SIR – Pc Keith Wallis’s plea of guilty, in the case affecting Andrew Mitchell, the former chief whip (report, January 11), means he cannot be questioned in the dock as to who, if anyone, urged him to lie; or who cooperated with him in this, or why.

Jan Dow
Exeter, Devon

SIR – Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, said Wallis’s behaviour fell “below the standards expected” of his officers. Shouldn’t that have been “contrary to the standards expected”? They should tell the truth rather than lie.

Richard Cheeseman
Yateley, Hampshire

SIR – Plebgate: at last, a scandal that really involves a gate!

Simon Lovell
Eye, Cambridgeshire

Another other woman

SIR – The French president, you report, contemplates legal action over publicity given to his mistress. I wonder why. An affair that can break an English politician’s career enhances a French politician’s popularity. Many Frenchmen have a wife, an official mistress with an important role in French society, and a genuine love for a platonic relationship.

Lord Sudeley
London NW1

Freeze on consumption

SIR – If Judith Woods wishes to slow down her intake of chocolate bars, then pop them into the freezer. This inhibits instant demolition.

MInd your teeth, though, if you’re a beginner.

Ginny Hudson
Swanmore. Hampshire

Eddy on the Cam

SIR – With the arrival of Prince William, Cambridge University has the grandson of a reigning monarch among its dreaming spires for the second time in its history.

In October 1883, Queen Victoria’s grandson, Prince Albert Victor, known everywhere as Prince Eddy, went into residence at Trinity College, with a don who was a radical MP and an outspoken critic of the monarchy as his neighbour.

“He hardly knows the meaning of the words ‘to read’,” wailed his tutor. After two years the most that could be said for him was that he had “a fair memory for the more picturesque parts” of English history.

It is perhaps not surprising that the university has made no reference to this interesting royal precedent.

Lord Lexden
London SW1

Drunk the year round

SIR – An extremely fine yet undervalued alcohol-free cocktail for Sandra Woods’s Dry January (Letters January 8), which she might like to continue through the wet months ahead, is made by squeezing pink grapefruits to fill a litre jug or so, and macerating overnight with a decent bunch of mint. The ingredients blend harmoniously and the drink improves for several days.

Such a cocktail will be sharper, yet not bitter, using white grapefruits. It is highly favoured by all recovering alcoholics for whom I have catered.

Patrick Williams
London SW4

SIR – I am sick of attending social gatherings and having to justify my not drinking. I am viewed with much suspicion, and do not see why I should have to explain this to someone before I am allowed a drink I would prefer.

Kim Halliday
Newport, Essex



Irish Times:

Sir, – The fact that the so-called Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013 has come into effect in the absence of clinical guidelines being issued by the Department of Health is profoundly disturbing from a legal and medical perspective (Home News, January 3rd, 2014).

The purpose of this Act, according to the Government, was to eliminate a supposed lacuna in the law which it wrongly claimed had arisen as a result of the decision in X case.

Ironically, instead of removing a gap in the law which did not exist in the first place, the commencement of the Act in the absence of clinical guidelines has created just such a gap, since a pregnant woman is now entitled by statute to an abortion in certain circumstances but medical professionals have no means of ascertaining exactly what these circumstances are.

The fact that no guidelines have been formulated a full five months after the Act was signed can hardly be of great surprise to anyone.

At the Oireachtas Health Committee hearings on abortion, held one year ago this week, the Government was repeatedly warned about the difficulties that would be faced in formulating guidelines to cover the issue of suicidal ideation. Psychiatrists who attended the hearings were unanimously of the view that an abortion is not a treatment for suicidal ideation in a woman, in any circumstances, and therefore it was bound to prove difficult for the Department of Health to produce a set of guidelines which expected doctors to act as if the very opposite were the case.

Unfortunately the Government chose, for political reasons, to completely ignore the evidence from psychiatrists and the ethical conundrum which would arise for doctors as a result of the Act. It will be interesting to see exactly what medico-legal somersaults the Department of Health will seek to perform in order to overcome these enormous difficulties. – Yours, etc,





Sir, – For the record and in response to the letters of Rev Eoin de Bhaldraithe (December 23rd) and Dr Ken Dunn (January 6th), I recognise and understand the injustice of Ne Temere and am also aware that mixed marriages were exempted from Tridentine law (which may well have been to avoid a conflict with civil law). I am also familiar with the McCann case which, as the validity of that marriage was called into question, underpins my argument that Ne Temere was about the validity of all marriages involving Catholics.

That said, I believe that as the same case became heavily politicised it warrants much more robust scholarly research and analysis before any grand claims concerning it can be made. A degree of caution is also required when considering Dr Dunn’s claim that “Ne Temere was applied enthusiastically by both clergy and politicians in Ireland and retrospectively […] and marriages of long standing were broken up”. For my doctoral research I examined a significant number of lesser-known inter-faith relationship/mixed marriage disputes, many of which came before the Irish courts. I found that Ne Temere was generally not applied retrospectively and that most disputes centred on the issue of the religious upbringing of the children of the marriage rather than on the requirement that a couple should marry before a Catholic priest and two witnesses (Ne Temere). Further, I am not aware of any politicians who applied Ne Temere (the Catholic Church and state were never that close!), though I am aware that many unionist politicians exploited it for political gain particularly in the run-up to the third Home Rule Bill.

Dr Dunn also states that “the upbringing of children was not completely explicit in Ne Temere”. In fact, he should forego the woolly language and acknowledge my fundamental point that there was “no reference in the decree in any shape or form to the religious upbringing of children”.

For anyone interested, my research and analysis of the said inter-faith relationship/mixed marriage disputes will be published in an article entitled “Church and State and Unhappy Marriages” in the scholarly journal New Hibernia Review in 2014. – Yours, etc,


York Road,

Dún Laoghaire,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – The extraordinary claims of Dr Ken Dunn, chairman of the  Northern Ireland Mixed Marriage Association, demand explanation and clarification. His claim that the Ne Temere decree “was applied enthusiastically by clergy and politicians in Ireland . . . and marriages of long standing were broken up” is very strange. While there should be no surprise that [Roman Catholic] clergy would apply Ne Temere, there is no comment in favour of Ne Temere in the Dáil record from its creation in 1919 to the present day. Which politicians is he referring to? The only example he gives is from Belfast in 1910 and as far as I remember the British were in charge then. Has he no other example?

His claim that “the net result of [Ne Temere] was the reduction of the Protestant population in the Irish Free State/Republic by 80 per cent” is simply untrue.  As far back as 1973, RE Kennedy showed that the main causes of Protestant decline in Ireland were colonial retreat after independence, economic emigration, war deaths, natural decrease, and of course Ne Temere. – Yours, etc,


Glendalough Park,


Sir, – , Please allow me space to enlighten John Thompson’s understanding of what we “think we are saving” in relation to the planned obliteration of the Moore Street area (January 6th). For a start, according to the National Museum (in a letter to Minister for Arts and Heritage Jimmy Deenihan), “the most important historic site in modern Irish history that if properly and sensitively developed could rank with famous historic sites around the world as Dublin’s historic quarter”.

The only buildings that lie derelict and abandoned are those at 14 to 17 Moore Street designated in 2007 as the 1916 National Monument and under the private ownership of Chartered Land since 2005. All other buildings associated with the retreat from the GPO are occupied and in use today. It is not true to say that they have no architectural features. Numbers 14 to 17 are listed for preservation not only on historical grounds but also because they do contain important 18th-century elements. Incredibly no other building in the area has been internally examined or assessed. The buildings did not simply shelter “some remnants of the rebel’s leadership”. The Moore Street terrace was the last HQ of the 1916 Provisional Government of the Irish Republic. This was the location where six of the leaders – five of whom were signatories to the Proclamation – spent their last hours of freedom before their execution by firing squad. The terrace is their only extant meeting place that has not been altered or destroyed through redevelopment. For some of us this is sacred ground.

The 1916 Proclamation was not drawn up in Conway’s public house. It was, of course, agreed and signed in 21 Henry Street. Conway’s is the location of the signing of documents of a somewhat different nature in recent times – the brown envelope kind. It is listed for preservation – somebody in authority has, it can be said, at the very least, an ironic sense of humour.

I heartily agree that the best tribute to the rebels would be to see that their vision comes to pass. How to best achieve that is the question? Hardly by a dismissal of the past or the planned demolition of our lasting physical links to the event in our history that led to our independence. These historic locations and buildings are not ours to destroy or hand over for private commercial gain. As part of our history and heritage they are held in trust for future generations. We do not argue for a return to the past – we can however plan our future based on our past – our honourable past, that is. – Yours, etc,



Concerned Relatives

of the Signatories to

the 1916 Proclamation,

Oxford Road,



Sir, – The spirit of Pádraig Pearse can be pictured smiling kindly at Richard Irvine pointing out that “an inclusive Ireland must have room for Britishness; it must recognise it, even embrace it . . . and build an Irish identity that can include it,” (Opinion & Analysis, January 3rd). Pearse himself gave de jure status to such an identity, or at least strongly indicated it, when he named Thomas Davis as a father and evangelist of Irish nationality, shortly before the Rising.

In support of O’Connell’s campaign for repeal of the union, Davis put forward his own concept of a new Irish nationality . This was one which “must contain and represent the races of Ireland. It must not be Celtic, it must not be Saxon – it must be Irish.” Of noteworthy significance, especially in relation to the endemic bigoted sectarianism in Northern Ireland, and the unfinished business of the 1916 Rising, is the requirement that it must “not [be] a nationality which would prelude civil war, but [one] which would establish union and external independence”. Does that not imply that creating “internal unions” must be the means to an independent Ireland?

Davis had a dream that internal union might be brought about by love — the only force which, as Martin Luther King later pointed out, “is capable of transforming an enemy into a friend”. Since “cherishing” is akin to “loving”, the resolve that Pearse wrote into the Proclamation for “all the children of the nation” to be cherished equally can be interpreted now as a first step in establishing as de facto the Davis-conceived new inclusive Irish nationality.

What better time to begin that nation-building, and respond to the legacy of Pearse, than this year, 2014, which brings us, on October 24th, the bicentenary of the birth of Thomas Davis. – Yours, etc,


Dublin Road,




Sir, – I wish to add support to your leading article of January 5th calling for action in 2014 on global warming. It is becoming increasingly obvious that we must reduce our carbon emissions by reducing our use of fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) by replacing them with renewables and nuclear power.

In the Irish situation there is a misconception that renewables, notably wind, will alone solve all our energy problems. This cannot be the case due to wind’s intermittency and to the necessity of providing back-up fossil fuel electricity generators for when the wind fails.

I am delighted to see that the leader suggests that modern nuclear power be considered for Ireland as this is the aim of our advocacy group BENE (Better Environment with Nuclear Energy: see Many professional bodies such as ESB, Eirgrid, Forfás, ICTU and IBEC have expressed the same opinion.

Nuclear power is the only source of low carbon, clean, base¨-load electricity and, we have shown that, using the new small modular reactors (SMRs) it would be a very considerably cheaper option for Ireland than wind turbines, together with their back-up gas-fired electricity generators and grid extensions.

It should be noted that one nuclear plant is equivalent to 1,000 wind turbines, higher than the 120m Dublin spire, and would have a lifetime of 60 years compared to 20-25 years for wind turbines. A nuclear plant could be sited in the place of an existing fossil plant, use the existing grid, and so would not require all the controversial extra pylons necessary with wind generation.

It is about time that a serious cost-benefit analysis of our future energy supply be done and that this include the nuclear option. – Yours, etc,


(Emeritus Professor

of Physics, NUI Galway),



Sir, – Why the uproar when Irish Water consultancy fees were announced (Front Page, January 10th)? This company was started from scratch and was delivered within a year. There would probably have been financial penalties imposed on the private companies if deadlines were not met. If it were left to the relevant public sector bodies, would the Government be able to impose such fines? Would they have completed the task in a year? Better that private companies were involved so that an efficient organisation could be created. Who knows what inefficient organisation, with long-term increased cost to the taxpayer, would have resulted instead? – Yours, etc,


Dollymount Park,



Sir, – From a practical perspective, wind turbines cannot generate enough energy to reduce global CO2 levels to a meaningful degree. Wind power is by nature intermittent and cannot generate a steady output, necessitating back-up coal and gas power plants that significantly negate any savings in greenhouse gas emissions.

There are also ecological drawbacks to wind turbines, including damage to habitats, wildlife and the aesthetic drawback of the assault upon natural beauty and the pristine landscape.

Wind power in Ireland and Britain is being financed at the cost of consumers, who have not been consulted nor informed about this effective subsidy that is being paid from their taxes and energy bills to support an industry that cannot be cost-efficient. – Yours, etc,


Victoria Cross,


Sir, – Thomas O’Connor assures us that “the people will appease their appetite for change at next year’s local and European elections” (January 7th).

I would not hold my breath if I were him. When given an opportunity to get rid of the expensive talking shop for the elite called the Seanad they turned it down.

That has continued a debate on the Seanad that gets more removed from reality by the day. First we have high-profile people, who supported its retention during the referendum, opposing the “reforms” that were part of the retention campaign.

Then we had a Government Minister, who supported the campaign to abolish it, proposing “reform” of an institution that during the campaign was “irreformable”.

Since it just means electing another Dáil, dominated by the same political parties, the widely canvassed election of Seanad members by universal suffrage does not constitute reform.

The choice for “reform” of the Seanad boils down, therefore, to two options. Turn it into another Dáil or leave it as an expensive, powerless talking shop for the elite and their cronies.– Yours, etc,


Shielmartin Drive,


Sir, – Paul Milne repeats a misapprehension that frequently arises in discussions of BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) in support of Palestinian rights when he describes it as “ironic that the teachers in a country that has . . . failed to revive its native language should want to boycott the teachers in a country [Israel] which has successfully revived its language” (January 10th ).

Leaving aside the question as to whether the successful revival of Hebrew somehow mitigates the ethnic cleansing and ongoing persecution of Palestinians, the boycott – whether academic, cultural, sporting or economic – is directed at the Israeli state, and not at individuals unless those individuals are explicitly representing that state. Hence, quite simply, nobody advocates a blanket boycott of Israeli teachers. – Yours, etc,


Lower Baggot Street,

Dublin 2 .


Sir, – One can only imagine what the recent storms on the west coast would have done to the massive salmon farm planned for Galway Bay and the ecological damage caused by the escapees interbreeding with local salmon stocks. If ever a timely reminder was needed to show the folly and short-sightedness of such a scheme, this was it. – Yours, etc,


Thomastown Road,


Co Dublin.

Sir, – Early in the new year, readers of the English press learned that repartition was no solution to the Northern Ireland problem, thanks to the release of previously classified 1984 British documents.

Cabinet minutes showed that the British government had formally considered repartitioning Northern Ireland before rejecting the idea.

Readers of The Irish Times hardly needed to wait to learn this. On September 18th, 1975, it published a lengthy article by myself and Ian McAllister showing why repartition would create enormous refugee flight and violence.

The article is accessible at – Your, etc,



Centre for the Study

of Public Policy,

University of Strathclyde,






Irish Independent:

* It is reported that Irish Water is considering billing water charges in apartment blocks via their owners’ management companies (OMCs), with the OMC then responsible for billing the charges on to individual owners.

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As a managing agent working on behalf of OMCs that represent almost 8,000 houses and apartments in the greater Dublin area, I would strongly oppose water charges being billed through OMCs.

These companies are effectively co-ops which work on behalf of apartment owners that manage the common areas of a development (roofs, gardens, etc). Involving management companies in the collection of water charges would be bad for them (and their members) for several reasons:

{HTML_BULLET} It fundamentally undermines the relationship between an OMC and its members if an OMC effectively has to take on a tax collection function for the State.

{HTML_BULLET} Increasing the annual service charges billed to property owners, is likely to increase the number of owners who do not (or cannot) pay their charges.

{HTML_BULLET} The charges themselves are contentious and it seems Irish Water believes many apartments will be difficult to meter. Any system of “assessed charge” will involve judgment and will inevitably be perceived as unfair by some. It is simply not the role of the OMC to get involved with such matters.

{HTML_BULLET} Administration of water charges (including waivers for vulnerable groups, various payment methods, reducing pressure for those not paying, etc) will be complicated and onerous.

OMCs (with voluntary boards of directors) will generally have neither the time nor the desire to get involved in this work.

Water charges should not be billed through OMCs.

If they are introduced, water charges should be billed to individual households, with the greatest possible use of meters.




* Frank Kelly‘s comment, “what is retirement but doing nothing?” reminds me of a quote from the late ‘Naked Gun’ actor Leslie Nielsen: “Doing nothing is difficult, you never know when you’re finished.”




* I had understood that the main reason for setting up Irish Water was to protect what we are constantly told is a precious resource.

I was, therefore, astonished to learn from your article (Irish Independent January 10) that we consumers could be penalised by Irish Water if we conserve water too zealously. Heads we lose, tails they win!




* Once again, Fr Tony Flannery misrepresents what the Second Vatican Council actually taught. He claims that it “goes so far as to say that unless a teaching is accepted by the consensus of the faithful it cannot be considered a defined teaching” (Irish Independent, January 11). This is completely bogus.

The council teaches that the Pope may define doctrine completely on his own authority, as indeed may a council in union with him. Furthermore, the council defined “the sense of the faithful” as including the Pope and college of bishops, Fr Flannery defines it as excluding them. The council teaches the lay faithful to be guided by the Pope and bishops in matters of faith and morality, Fr Flannery puts it the other way around.

He grants lay people at any stage of the church’s history an effective veto on church teaching. Surely the church cannot simply jettison teachings that have been universally accepted by Catholics down through the centuries, because a proportion of Catholics have rejected these teachings recently?




* The black card recently introduced by the GAA is a good idea, as far as it goes. It takes two to tango. But it will not change the ethos of GAA games. One has only to look at rugby to see the glaring difference. It is the attitude that must change.

For example, why are GAA players allowed to throw the ball away instead of handing it civilly to the opponent for a free? Multiplying rules will not change attitudes. The answer is simple: move the ball forward 10, 20, even 30 metres, for every show of bad manners. Granted, the game was far rougher and dirtier long ago, with far fewer rules. Now it is nastier, with far too many rules. No referee can be expected to get it right until the rules are reduced, and made clearer and simpler.




* I was pleasantly surprised to find that the bulk of your editorial (Irish Independent, January 6) explored the practical ways in which the misery and destruction caused by recent storms could be alleviated.

I would urge you to further explore how best to deal with other weather extremes.

Practical help and advice makes a great deal more sense to me than grandiose preaching on the evils of CO2 and the wickedness of mankind in supposedly causing every extreme weather event under the sun.

The history of science has many examples of the majority being wrong — for instance, the science of plate tectonics/continental drift, which was derided by scientists when it first appeared but is now universally accepted.




* Re: ‘Secret cuts for OAPs and disabled’ (Irish Independent, January 9) — here’s another little nugget you might want to add. In an earlier article, ‘Retirees turning 65 must wait an extra year for pension’ (Irish Independent, December 21, 2013) we were told that, “People affected from January may be able to get jobseekers’ benefit or jobseekers’ allowance. These payments are €180 a week, less than the state pension of €230 a week.”

What they neglected to let us know was that these payments would be means-tested! I checked this out myself at our local Department of Social Protection office.

What next . . . blood?




* Thirty years ago, Ireland saw the demise of a great shipping company, Irish Shipping Ltd. It was set up in 1941 to bring much-needed supplies to this country during World War II. Its unreliable, leaky old ships battled their way through mountainous waves in the North Atlantic, sometimes in convoy, sometimes on their own, and a few didn’t make it.

Now, a new book has been published about this great shipping firm. Called ‘Irish Shipping Ltd — A Fleet History’, it is written by four proud Wexford men (with input from a ship’s captain) and will be of enormous interest to those who sailed with ISL, or even to those who would have loved to. For more details, contact




* TV3 opposing a UTV Irish licence is akin to a potato planter objecting to Kerr’s Pink!



Irish Independent




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