Letter: Blowing the whistle

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The Independent Online
THERE ARE a couple of points I would like to take up following the coverage you have given (23, 25 February) to my Public Interest Disclosure Bill.

First, for the very reasons Dr Slapper sets out in his letter, the law will provide for reinstatement. Indeed, because whistle-blowers are so vulnerable, the Government has agreed to extend to them the special provisions for reinstatement pending the full hearing.

My own view, however, is that the most effective way to protect whistle- blowers and to promote the public interest is to ensure that unscrupulous employers have to compensate any public-spirited employee they victimise for his actual losses. As this view is shared by the CBI, the TUC and all other key interests, I am increasingly confident that the Government will accept the sense in this approach and legislate on this basis.

Finally, if any reader is concerned about fraud, public danger or other serious malpractice and is unsure whether to blow the whistle or stay silent, I urge them to contact Public Concern at Work (0171 404 6609) for free legal advice.

RICHARD SHEPHERD MP

(Aldridge Brownhills, C)

House of Commons

London SW1

BBC for schools

SO, BBC School Radio has been axed? Or so said Sally Williams's article on children's radio (Media, 23 February). We were more than a touch surprised. This year we are transmitting 260 hours of programmes for schools on Radio 3, backed up by a popular cassette service for hard-pressed teachers. And we don't intend to axe anything.

"Dry and formal" may be Sally Williams's verdict on BBC Education's radio output. It's certainly not the verdict of the teachers and children who listen to it. Audiences are increasing.

ALAN LAMBERT

Commissioning Editor, BBC Education

GEOFF MARSHALL-TAYLOR

Executive Producer, BBC Education

London W12

Lingua franca

YOUR report on linguistic confusion in Brussels (28 February) highlights a problem which in the short term can only get worse. In the long term, however, the solution could be to adopt a common European second language, which could be taught to all European schoolchildren from an early age.

As you point out, national rivalry will preclude the adoption of any modern language. The logical candidate is Latin, which was in fact used for this very purpose in the Middle Ages. Modern technological terms would pose no problem, since most of these are derived from Latin or Greek. The use of Latin would also put an end to the creeping Anglicisation of other languages which is a source of resentment to our European neighbours, particularly the French.

ROGER WORDSWORTH

Kirkham, Lancashire

Henry the Forgotten

YOU SAY that if the succession had gone to the eldest child, irrespective of gender, Mary Tudor would have succeeded Henry VIII (born in 1491) ("Equality at last for royal daughters", 28 February).

No. Henry would not have been king. The throne would have gone to his elder sister Margaret Tudor (born 1489), who married James IV of Scotland. Their granddaughter was Mary, Queen of Scots.

SHEILA M LYONS

Chichester, West Sussex

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