IoS letters, emails & online postings (04 July 2010)

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No one wants to see undone the good work of recent years in changing the way that sexual assault cases are handled, in supporting victims, and in enabling them to bring attackers to justice ("Child sex abuse defendants could be granted anonymity", 27 June). However, we must ask to what extent identifying the accused in the media helps other victims come forward, and whether this outweighs the damage done to men who are falsely accused.

In August 2008, my husband, a Lincolnshire dentist, was falsely accused of sexual assault by a patient, who went on to recruit two other accusers. When it came to trial in September 2009, the press coverage was salacious and highly damaging, and it generated a further complainant, later described as "a fantasist".

My husband lost his job; his son was taunted in the playground. He was acquitted of all charges in March this year. The acquittal received little or no coverage in the national press, who had reported the allegations in detail during the trial, and the allegations remain on the internet.

The current situation amounts to punishment before verdict for the accused, and acquittal is cold comfort, given the lasting stain on a man's character that such an ordeal brings. Men accused of sexual offences should be given the same rights to anonymity that protect their accusers, until and unless they are convicted.

Helen Heath


The remarkable and continuing discoveries of scientists better our planet and all on it. But as I understand it, scientists say they know about 30 per cent of the brain's function. So how can anyone say that an unborn child can feel pain only at a certain number of weeks? ("Better an abortion than a mass grave?", 27 June). In the 19th century, dogs were cut open without anaesthetic and their howling was attributed to wind. Today, scientists say "our current knowledge leads us to the understanding that no pain is experienced up to 24 weeks". There is still so much to discover about the brain and the body. Not all unborn children develop at the same rate. In each case, caution needs to be practised.

Hayden Smith

London E11

There may be a few receiving benefits who should not, but to paint all claimants as dishonest is cheap propaganda. People have to eat and live somewhere; with benefits cut, crime and riot could be the only responses left. Benefits are recycled into shops, to landlords, and to suppliers, so whole neighbourhoods are going to get blighted.

Grocer economics does not apply to countries. In the future, gangs will roam the torched-out inner cities of Europe. George Osborne and David Cameron will play their part in unleashing this new "Big Society".

I put this to a contact in Jamaica, currently in a state of civic emergency. He said, "There is no welfare in Jamaica, we have high unemployment, and rates of crime are among the highest in the world. Large urban areas are derelict."

Here, then, is the decay of the UK under the cuts axe.

Chris Clayton


Western medicine has made great strides in recent years but it does not mean that other beliefs are wrong ("Doctors call for total NHS ban on homoeopathy", 27 June).

Having had cancer, I am well aware that chemotherapy is not all it is made out to be, and that a large amount of the research into cancer is funded by drug companies. People have survived the cancer using alternative methods both before and after doctors have given up. If the British Medical Association wants to save £10m, then offer to take a cut in pay – doctors can survive with less pay, patients cannot survive on surgery and drugs alone. Alternatively, cut the volume of drugs they dispense. They always give you twice as much as you need, and judging by the amount gone into my bin it would save more than £10m nationally.

Trevor Andrews

Hill Head , Hampshire

I am happy that Helen Llewelyn no longer suffers from chronic pain and depression. But the science is very clear: it cannot be the "homoeopathic medicines" that did it.

David P Stansfield

London E14

Christina Hartley blaming classroom frustrations on bad parenting reminds me of the old adage about a poor craftsman blaming his tools. (Letters, 27 June). The job of a teacher is to address the needs of each child, not criticise their failure to conform to arbitrary "standards" on entry. School is school, not the world, and teachers should never assume that untrained kids are unhappy, unsuitable or unloved, or their parents unworthy.

Sally Baughn


Rupert Cornwell says, "The last soldier to be British prime minister was the Duke of Wellington in the 1830s" ("This country can't resist a man in uniform", 27 June). Winston Churchill doesn't count, then?

Anthony Hudson

via email

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