Letter:No place for spies in this democracy

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Sir: May I use your columns to make the strongest protest that I can on the Government using the people to spy on the people ("Cheatlines to trap benefit fraudsters", 5 August). I can remember the 1930s when as a young man I handed my life, as did so many others, to my country to help wipe out regimes that used the same tactics and even went so far as to get children to spy on their own parents.

Now we hear that a government department has offered a free telephone line for people to give evidence against their neighbours, whom they suspect of fraudulently using welfare funds. This is reminiscent of the old Mata Hari films where "pillow talk" cost lives. To those like me who still remember, Hitler's crowd were on the extreme right of politics also and they loved people telling on other people because that was how they held control.

I am against fraud of any sort from those who work the benefit system to those who walk off with many thousands of pounds of taxpayers' money by working the tax system or taking money on false pretences from pension funds, etc.

But if the reported savings made were to be promised for an investigation into who are the 600,000 elderly people not claiming benefit when they should I would still protest at people being urged to spy on other people. We do not want volunteer spies in this democracy.