Sir: We must all applaud Robin Cook's protest to the Saudis that their proposed punishments of Lucille McLauchlan and Deborah Perry are inappropriate for the 20th century. This, though true, is not the main issue.

The real issue is that Saudi court procedures offend natural justice. I understand that, under Saudi Arabian law, the word of women is totally discounted in court. Even the women's legal counsel says he still does not know the evidence against them. In short, the verdict was arrived at in such a way that nobody can possibly know whether the two nurses are guilty or not. We should therefore assume that they are innocent.

Some will say that the Saudis are simply applying Islamic law. Saudi and Islamic law are, however, not at all the same thing. Besides, the issue is not one of law, but of justice and morality, and any rational person, no matter what his beliefs or religion, can see that these have been violated.


Dunstan Martin