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Sir: I expect better of the newspaper that carries the excellent Robert Fisk than the comment from John Lichfield ("Boycott's sticky wicket: `I didn't hit her, I didn't push her, I didn't make her fall'", 21 October): "...a young man who had received a stolen motorbike, and a young Arab who had made a rude gesture at a police officer." The police officer probably thought that the young Arab was not a normal man either.

ANDREW ANDERSON

Ampthill, Bedfordshire

Sir: Labour MP Andrew Mackinlay, in commentating on the execution of 24 Sierra Leone soldiers ("Cook may stop MPs quizzing African officials", 21 October) questioned "what sort of trials were held" in the capital.

Over the past four months the International Bar Association has sent trial observers to join the UN team monitoring treason trials in the High Court and courts martial in Freetown.

The observers' assessment was that Sierra Leone conducted fair trials under difficult circumstances. The courts martial procedure was fair and followed international standards but the IBA is concerned that its calls for an appeals procedure for those sentenced to death were not heeded.

KLAUS BOHLHOFF

President

International Bar Association

London W1

Sir: Margaret Thatcher has said that the Government has worsened the "problem" of single mothers by giving them benefit ("Thatcher to mums: go into a nunnery", 21 October).

Not that long ago, in Ireland, such mothers and children were sent to hostels run by the Roman Catholic Church.

The child was nearly always given up for adoption against the wishes of the mother and the women suffered terrible hardship and cruelty.

I find Thatcher's views so unsympathetic to the needs of single mothers that I wonder if she received this idea from a recent visitor to her house, Augusto Pinochet.

TIM CULHANE

London W6

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