Proposed corporate killing law would not threaten politicians
Proposed corporate killing law would not threaten politicians
Sir: The main reason for a new corporate killing law ("John Reid could face prosecution under corporate killing law", 26 July) is precisely to avoid the personalisation of guilt. So, if the Government is delaying the arrival of such a law because it would incriminate individual politicians, it is looking at an inappropriate draft law.
Under the existing law that is sought to be changed, an individual can be prosecuted for manslaughter if his gross negligence results in the death of someone to whom he owed a duty of care. The principal point of a law against "corporate killing", is, as the phrase suggests, to incriminate a corporate body.
Under a draft Bill produced by the Law Commission in 1996, since when it has collected dust, the crime of "corporate killing" would be committed if a "management failure" leads to death, and that failure exhibits a degree of care that falls "far below what can reasonably be expected of the corporation in the circumstances". If, apart from that, an individual director's conduct was proved to be criminally indifferent to human life, then he or she could also be convicted.
Some politicians and representatives of industry are quick to reject a new corporate killing law on the grounds that it would unfairly incriminate them. In fact, such a law would be no more likely to do so than current laws governing corporate finance and protecting shareholders and investors.
Professor GARY SLAPPER
Director of the Centre for Law
The Open University
Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire
Recycling is obvious alternative to dumping
Sir: If Sue Arnold has trouble coping when her rubbish is not collected from Wednesday through to Monday ("Waste not, want not", 31 July), she should try living in Hyndburn. As part of the council's drive to force us all to recycle, our bins of non-recycled and recycled rubbish get collected on alternate weeks. We are a seven- person household, but I think that with a fair amount of effort we will be able to fit two weeks of non-recycle rubbish into one bin, and I do approve of the general idea. What is worrying me is the likely smell and the risk of a rise in the pest population.
If, having coped with all the difficulties, I find anyone doing as Sue Arnold says she does and putting their rubbish in my bin they won't just get a rude letter - they'll get the rubbish back through their letterbox.
Sir: It's dead simple, Ms Arnold: what you can do is flatten those cardboard boxes and rinse out those empty milk containers, collect them in suitable containers and pop them into your nearest recycling point next time you are passing. In West Ealing, you can deposit them in bins provided near a supermarket. As for waste paper, only the window envelopes need to go into the dustbin: put the shredded documents into your office paper recycling bin.
If your household is producing so much landfill waste, you could do with some serious lessons on how to adopt a less wasteful lifestyle.
Sir: How dare Sue Arnold advocate what amounts to fly-tipping? She asks "what can you do" when a few milk cartons etc fill up a bin bag? Has she never heard of recycling in London? Perhaps she (and others like her) would re-think their rubbish if, like us, they lived with the threat of a second landfill site on their doorstep?
Sir: The issue as I see it is not that a cyclist was going the wrong way down a street, and then assaulted Ted Rhodes when reprimanded by him ("Coroner: police turn a blind eye to cyclists", 30 July), it is that as a society many laws are neither respected nor enforced. Cycling to and from work, I daily run a gamut of minor traffic offences committed by others, many of which could easily lead to hospitalistion at best and serious injuries or death at worst. However, I've yet to see the police pulling over speeding drivers or picking up jaywalkers who expect the traffic to stop for them. Fining cyclists for their perceived "bad" behaviour isn't going to solve anything.
Sir: Ben Bradshaw, Minister for Nature Conservation, describes the cormorant, a bird of our coasts and wetlands, as a "pest" (report, 28 July) because its natural habit of eating fish can bring it into conflict with some anglers. His department has spent millions of pounds on research to respond to anglers' complaints. The results show that no change in policy or legislation can be justified: serious damage by cormorants is localised and can be addressed locally, through a licensing system operated by Defra.
A recent Defra review showed there was no reason to alter that system, which legally requires fishery managers to consider non-lethal solutions, of which there are many for inland waters. We would rather that Mr Bradshaw concentrated his effort on asking why his department allows the killing of house sparrows and starlings every year. These two birds have declined by more than half in the last 25 years, yet remain on a general licence of "pest" species, even though - as with cormorants - there is little evidence that they cause widespread serious damage.
Dr MARK AVERY
Director of Conservation, RSPB
Telling porkie pies
Sir: I was gratified to see the feature on the description of "Melton Mowbray" pork pies by Marks & Spencer and others (31 July).
The farming press has been complaining about this type of convenient misdescription for some time, but it rarely gets into the national press. Why does the law pursue sellers of fake designer brand sports goods and pirated CDs but completely ignore our largest food retailers who blatantly pass off goods as something they are not?
It appears to be far too easy for the big food retailers to increase their already massive profits by ignoring tradition. Can anyone explain why?
DAVID B WILLIAMS
Leamington Spa, Warwickshire
Gambling with lives
Sir: It needs to be emphasised that Dr David Forrest's comments about excessive gambling ("A nation of losers?", 24 July) - that he doesn't "believe they are the same consequences as those from alcohol" - are those of an economist. As a psychiatrist, I was the person who first defined the characteristics of pathological gambling, which have been adopted by the World Health Organisation. Over a number of years, I have been involved in treating this condition and have seen the effects of the disorder at first hand. It is unquestionably as serious in its consequences as those from alcohol.
What is particularly worrying about the present situation is the fact that, with all the fine words, economic and commercial considerations are driving public policy on gambling. Tessa Jowell, the Culture Secretary, has recently stated that she wants to "ensure continued growth" for the gambling industry. She also claimed that she wishes to protect players and especially children "first, second and third". She needs to decide which it is to be; she cannot do both.
Dr E MORAN
Business of childcare
Sir In "Revealed: our dirty secrets" (Review, 27 July) one of your interviewees was described as a "child- minder". This unfortunate lady, who had been very badly treated, was an au pair not a childminder.
Childminders in England and Wales are currently registered with Ofsted and work in their own homes unless they are home childcarers. Prior to 2001, childminders were registered with the social services department of their local authority. Saritha, your interviewee, was employed in someone else's home.
This perception of childminders does nothing to raise awareness of the sterling service the profession offers to parents and carers. Childminders provide the largest amount of registered childcare in the country and are professional, self-employed business people.
Sir: Colin White's comprehensive article on Nelson and Trafalgar (29 July) has a glaring omission - it does not once mention Nelson's second-in-command, "that brave fellow, Collingwood", whose line was first to engage the combined fleet.
Nelson's death in the hour of victory has completely eclipsed the subsequent career of Collingwood, who survived. Indeed, it was not until the Navy Records Society recently published his letters that I became aware of his invaluable service as Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean. At the time of Trafalgar, Collingwood had not seen his family since May 1803, or set foot in England since May 1805. After the battle he remained in command at sea until March 1810, when his health collapsed and he handed over to his deputy, only to die the day after his ship left Minorca.
Meanwhile, he had been de facto the sole representative of the British government, corresponding with foreign states, containing the French fleet, frustrating Napoleon's projects in the Mediterranean and supporting the rising in Spain. Trafalgar may have ensured Britain's command of the sea for the next hundred years, but it was Collingwood who put that command to use.
Sir: Colin White dispels some of the myths about Nelson's victory at Trafalgar but still propagates a long-standing one. He is wrong to claim that Trafalgar was "the last great battle of the sailing era". The last great battle to be fought entirely under sail was Navarino Bay, where Vice-Admiral Sir Edward Codrington (who had been one of Nelson's "Band of Brothers" at Trafalgar) sank the Turkish fleet.
Codrington's impulsive action, on October 20, 1827, in a bay off the west coast of Greece, not only helped to win the Greeks their independence but also propelled the Duke of Wellington into office as prime minister (for which the "Iron Duke" was not entirely grateful).
Sir: As a foreigner I frequently find it amazing yet shocking how the British manage to distort or even rewrite history to their advantage.
Seen from a non-British point of view, Napoleonic France was anything but a "European tyranny" (leader, 29 July), as L'Empereur did not at all simply invade and conquer most of the then-existing monarchies in Europe, but rather install democracy and basic social justice wherever he was victorious. The lack of a similar liberation is obvious in British history and even visible in the UK's current society.
Thus the battles of Trafalgar and Waterloo cannot be simplified as the defeat of an aggressive empire by the peoples of the then free world, but rather have to be seen as the victory of the leading monarchs and aristocracy over their own people. We should be celebrating the anniversaries of Austerlitz and Marengo instead. Never heard of them? Comes as no surprise to me...
Sir: Your chief political correspondent describes Baroness Williams as "one of the most respected politicians of her generation" (report, 30 July). Respected by whom exactly?
I have met too many intelligent people who can barely write their names thanks to the comprehensive education that they received during Baroness Williams's reign as education secretary. You may be sure that this fate was not shared by the children of many of her Labour cronies who somehow managed to find some special reason why their own offspring should be otherwise educated.
Looking up to the US
Sir: John Kerry would like to turn the United States once again into a "beacon for the world" which will be "looked up to" ("The Democratic Convention", 30 July). The US has never been a beacon for the world, but if he wants to do that he should begin by persuading Americans to look up to other nations first. Although no nation is perfect, his fellow Americans might learn some- thing by looking at the European social model or Europe's rejection of the death penalty.
Dr NICHOLAS DELIYANAKIS
Sir: Sven Goran Eriksson's assistant Tord Grip should consider himself fortunate that there are other things to talk about in Sweden (report, 29 July). Mr Eriksson's performance, as England manager, has left us precious little to talk about apart from his personal life.
Copthorne, West Sussex
Sir: I understand there will be a dilemma in cinemas in England this summer with the release of the new King Arthur film ("Arthur", 31 July). Since King Arthur's foes are Saxons, who will the English want to win? Their ancestors, or the Celts King Arthur leads?
Milford Haven, Dyfed
Sir: Peter Whitby reports that on Exmoor squirrels "look left, then right, then left again" (letter, 30 July). Perhaps their parents are at fault: this is the reverse of what we teach our children for crossing a road. Or perhaps they are illegal immigrants from France, and don't realise that we drive on the left.