IoS letters, emails & online postings (03 July 2011)

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Being into bondage is a sexual preference that is unusual in the sense that it applies to a statistical minority of people, but it is not in any way abnormal in the sense of being sick or dangerous ("It was right to question Milly's father in court", 26 June).

Joan Smith, commenting on the trial of Levi Bellfield for the murder of Milly Dowler, is suspicious about what the preference of the victim's father, Bob Dowler, for BDSM "might imply about his feelings towards women". This not only denigrates men who are into BDSM, but is patronising to women who live in a relationship that involves BDSM play.

I am into BDSM and I live in a very happy relationship with a like-minded partner. Such play requires a high degree of respect and trust in a partnership based on equality, love, openness and honesty. I am a well-educated, self-reliant and independent woman with a successful professional career. So I am in no way dependent on my partner.


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Levi Bellfield's defence was entitled to ask questions intended to raise a "reasonable doubt". That is its job. This case is not really different from many others, except for its high profile and the unusually repellent crime and defendant. Given its distressing nature for the Dowler family, perhaps part of the trial might have been held in private. But restricting the open nature of trials is a slippery slope, and information would have come out after the trial. As for Mr Dowler's sexual preferences, some of us find them repugnant, and highly regrettable in a married father of two young girls.


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Speed limits are not imposed only to prevent accidents ("Is the speed camera near you a cash cow or a lifesaver?", 26 June). Factors include high-speed traffic dividing a community, noise, and the needs of pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians. It follows that speed limits ought to be enforced on the basis of such factors. Therefore, it is wrong for the Conservative roads minister, Mike Penning, to conclude that cameras are installed to raise money just because they are in places where they do not reduce the number of deaths or injuries.

It is true that "single-speed" cameras are more suited to accident black spots, because they tend to reduce speeds only at the site of the camera. However, "average-speed" cameras enforce speed limits over a longish stretch. Moreover, they obtain a high level of compliance, so there is little question of their raising money.

David Bell

Standon, Ware, Hertfordshire

Years ago, young working-class people had "ladders"– free college and university education and grants ("Changing Britain", 26 June). My dad was a low-paid pit-top painter, my mother a clothing sales rep. I failed the 11-plus, but later went to technical college and a college of technology in the Manchester area, and subsequently graduated. I went down to London, got a job in Fleet Street, and lived in a small, £7-a-week flat near Harrods – a long way from my father's coal industry background. This would, no doubt, be impossible now. More generous help should be given to the young working class to help them to advance to a more successful life.

Howard James

Chester-le-Street, Co. Durham

Christopher Fowler claims that the Labour League of Youth was affiliated to the Communist Party (Books, 26 June). This was not the case: my parents, Ken and Dorothy Shilcock, were among those who fought to prevent Ted Willis and others from achieving this.

Roger Shilcock


In successful US clinical trials on diabetes Type 2, an easily maintained low-fat, low-GI plant-based diet enabled sufferers not only to regulate their condition but to actually reverse it, rather than subject them to a gruelling 600-calorie per day regime ("Diabetes: Cases double in 30 years", 26 June). The NHS has been slow on the uptake, but such a diet literally saves lives.

Jane Easton

Vegetarian & Vegan Foundation


Predictions of marine-life devastation in the Baltic due to decreasing salinity may be overblown ("Fears for Baltic's marine life ...", 26 June). Lough Neagh in Northern Ireland supports a thriving ecosystem and a small commercial fishery of pollan, a fish that was a sea-going herring until the lough was gradually cut off from the sea. As the salinity declined, the fish adapted to the freshwater and continued to thrive. As long as the salinity of the Baltic changes gradually, it's probable similar adaptations will take place.

David Buttery

Douglas, Isle of Man

As a student in Japan, I bought a bike ("This cycle crime wave needs brakes", 26 June). There, all bikes have a registration number, to be carried as proof of ownership, so cycling is immensely popular. Back in the UK, my £2,500 bike was pinched in broad daylight.

Katharine Sanderson

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