IoS letters, emails & online postings (13 October 2013)

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The Independent Online

Nobody, however "super" they may be, comes into social work without areas of weakness to be worked on ("Social workers: the good news", 6 October). Super selection will work only if it goes hand in hand with super training pre- and post-qualification, super supervision and super workload management. In today's climate, where their successes are never heard of and their failures can lead to death threats online, the wonder is that so many people are still choosing the tough job of child-care social work.

Carolyn Angwin-Thomson

Ilfracombe, Devon

One year ago two social workers came into my life. I have no idea how; I was that messed up. Gerry literally saved my life one day. Together, the two of them gave me my life back and have moved on to help others. Whenever I read about their tragic failures, I think about social workers' myriad unsung successes. I wish them all the best.

Sean Nee


Vince Bridle (Letters, 6 October) points out there must be a trigger or tip-off point to stopping smoking. I stopped there and then, cold turkey. Within weeks of denying myself tobacco I was dating rather smarter girls than previously. Cinema and fish and chips became theatre and dinner. My health improved. I had money to spend; that was good enough reason.

Chris Harding

Parkstone, Dorset

When I met Robert Fisk, it was with great pleasure and admiration, but I must correct the most dangerous part of his article ("The man with Assad's ear", 29 September) – his conclusion that I met the French-Algerian terrorist in order to find out what the prisoner told Fisk during their closed meeting. He made this worse by accusing me of reporting this meeting back to the President.

The President of Syria has no need of a civil activist like me to assist him.

I met the French-Algerian person a few days after Fisk spoke to him, not as an interrogator but during an interview with the BBC, which you will find in the link (

Fisk's portrayal of me as a dangerous man and interrogator made me a potential target to the fundamentalist groups. This false accusation put my family and me under direct threat from armed fanatic groups.

As a civil activist and socio-economic developer, I have been working in parallel on two objectives. The first is reconciliation, and the second is empowering the middle-class society with zero-carbon footprint development programmes. An example can be seen on the following link:

I work for the enlargement of the Syrian secular middle-class society by stopping the bloodshed with the power of reconciliation and low-carbon green socio-economical development.

Khaled Mahjoub

Damascus, Syria

A longer version of this letter can be read HERE

The Greenpeace protesters do not "face up to 15 years in jail for objecting to Arctic drilling" ("Vivienne channels the green T-shirt... 6 October). They were arrested for attempting to board an oil rig, an illegal act anywhere, and many countries would have detained protesters for similar acts. Like many of your readers, I am concerned about grossly disproportionate sentencing by the Russian authorities, and the environmental impacts of Arctic drilling, but that does not excuse a lack of objectivity in reporting.

Antony Wernham

Reading, Berkshire

Holly Williams writes in "The king of cool" (The New Review, 6 October) of the impressive collection of contemporary art filling the walls of fashion designer Raimund Berthold's flat, "with works by everyone from Cindy Sherman to Andy Warhol, Louise Bourgeois to Damian Ortega, Jake and Dinos Chapman to Rob and Nick Carter". The accompanying photo, meanwhile, is dominated by a large, typically exuberant, painting by my husband, the late John Hoyland.

Beverley Heath-Hoyland

Hoyland Studio Ltd, London EC1

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