IoS letters, emails & online postings (1 May 2011)

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Brian Cathcart is critical of the Press Complaints Commission and also refers to it as "no more than" a complaints body ("Bad editors have blown it for the rest", 24 April). It is true that last year we issued about 1,800 rulings and resolved over 500 complaints to the satisfaction of the complainant. We think it important to offer real and cost-free help to those who come to us. But we also have a 24-hour helpline, run by senior staff, to deal with concerns about harassment by journalists; pre-publication advice to individuals to help prevent intrusions from happening; pre-publication advice to editors and journalists; and training sessions for editors and journalists.

While Professor Cathcart suggested that no lessons were learnt and that the PCC was inactive over the Bridgend suicides, the local MP, Madeleine Moon, said that she "found the PCC advice, support and guidance invaluable" and that "the best insurance policy to have is the telephone number of the Press Complaints Commission". The Samaritans say that the "support that the PCC provides Samaritans is hugely helpful in our work to ensure responsible reporting of suicide".

Stephen Abell

Director, Press Complaints Commission

London EC1

This could be a make-or-break moment for the Press Complaints Commission. While it is vital to have senior journalists with sharp-end experience on the PCC, should they include serving editors and executives whose salaries and career ambitions still depend on the organisations who fund it? The public remains instinctively suspicious of governments (or judges) interfering with a free press and the PCC's key role is to retain that sentiment.

Paul Connew

St Albans, Hertfordshire

I had assumed that Nato-led, UN- sanctioned action in Libya was motivated by concern for the welfare of the general population. Nick Clegg, however, wants us to imagine the fate of "the lawyers, the students, the architects, the doctors, the nurses..." ("No one escapes the rage of a politician who goes down fighting", 24 April). Is he suggesting that the welfare of the unemployed, the construction workers, taxi drivers, farmers and other non-professional classes in Libya would be less deserving of our concern and intervention?

Con Lynch

Derryconnell, Schull, Ireland

Nick Clegg says it "can't be right that plum internships are decided by who you know, not what you know". But surely the whole concept of internships goes against the minimum wage, and the right of all workers to be paid a decent day's wage for a decent day's work.

Tim Mickleburgh

Grimsby, Lincolnshire

Under AV, whoever is elected must have commanded at least 50 per cent of first or second (or further) preferences, which is back to the principle of democratic rule. Whatever readers' views, I urge them to vote on Thursday: it would ironic if the issue were decided on a minority vote.

Malcolm Morrison

Swindon, Wiltshire

The topic of women's treatment in and by the Roman Catholic church is not aired enough in the serious media and I congratulate you on starting a serious discussion with "Defying the Pope?" (24 April). I look forward to in-depth analyses of women's disadvantaged situation, of the entrenched views of the Vatican leadership and the underlying wrong understanding of human sexuality. Women and men should speak about solidarity, leadership and sexuality, without the opinions of clerics who, having chosen a celibate lifestyle, cannot empathise with those who have not.

Dorothea McEwan

Via email

It is, indeed, a "funny old world" if Sarah Sands really believes that we Brits have a "work ethic" as opposed to the desire to ravish and dominate the world ("A fortnight of sun has turned us all into Italians", 24 April). She should visit Italy, where they really know how to work, rest and play. But that country is now overrun by tens of thousands of dispossessed Libyans who should be given sanctuary by the instigators of the latest military mission: America, France and Britain. London like Italy? In your wildest dreams!

J McAndrew

Blackpool, Lancashire

Teachers have 12 weeks' annual holiday, retire at 60, and feel hard done by. What can they be telling leavers about the world of work?

Imogen Swift

Southsea, Hampshire

I regularly make my own laver bread ("Seaweed grows on us...", 24 April). Rinsed five or six times, squeezed out, and simmered with a knob of butter for two to three hours, a bagful gives 18 servings, freezes well and is served with bacon, eggs and cockles for breakfast. Sets you up for the day!

Jan McKechnie


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