IoS letters, emails & online postings (21 July 2013)

 

Thank you for publishing the correspondence between journalist Miles Goslett and IoS journalist John Rentoul on the controversy surrounding the death of the weapons expert Dr David Kelly. (“Foul play vs suicide”, 14 July).

I followed this story at the time, and, although I realised that there was some controversy still rumbling on, I thought it had been cleared up to most people’s satisfaction. Now I’m not so sure. I thought that Mr Goslett put his well-balanced and considered case for an official inquest intelligently and eloquently. On the other hand, Mr Rentoul came across as aggressive, dismissive and insulting with no real argument to counter Miles Goslett’s case. For me, John Rentoul’s argument, or manner, actually made the case for an inquest more pressing than I had previously thought.

Penny Joseph

Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex

John Rentoul says that any reasonable person would have ruled out the possibility of foul play after a cursory review of the facts! This is a shockingly complacent attitude for an investigative newspaper. I’m sure there must be a position for him in the Russian legal system.

John then invents a ridiculous scenario to prove murder would be impossible, yet Dr Kelly could have been murdered at the end of his walk and not kidnapped from his home.

I believe that any reasonable person should be worried by the lack of an inquest, lack of fingerprint and DNA evidence and lack of blood at the scene, as expressed by many eminent experts. John can only continue his insults.

Mike Wardle

Chatham, Kent

Under the 1944 Education Act, the minister of education’s very few powers and responsibilities included securing the provision of sufficient school places and the removal of air-raid shelters from school play grounds – two duties successfully undertaken despite a near bankrupt country and a baby boom.

Seventy years later, and in a less dire economic climate, the current Secretary of State has accrued for himself a very large number of powers and responsibilities but is failing to secure that most basic provision – with an unprecedented shortage of 120,000 places in England. He has also presided over a doubling of the number of children in infant classes over 30 (“Fresh crowded classes scandal – now it’s infants, 14 July). He should consider his position.

Professor Colin Richards

Spark Bridge, Cumbria

I was astonished to read that “one in four 11-year-olds [are] unable to read and write” (“Read all about it, 14 July). It turns out that one in four 11-year-olds do not achieve the expected level for writing, fewer than one in six for reading. That does not imply that these children are unable to read and write, and it is completely wrong to make that rather sensationalist assertion.

Ondine Sherwood

London NW2

I was sad to read of the bombing of Crac des Chevaliers, the great medieval castle near Homs (“Syrian air strike damages 12th-century castle of the crusades”, 14 July). Some years ago I travelled from Crac on a bus with workmen who had been restoring the castle. They asked me how much I was paying for my small hotel in Homs, and on hearing the amount (to me very modest!), they were horrified that I was being overcharged and insisted on paying my fare back to Homs. It’s the people I really grieve for, not the stones.

Jane Jakeman

Sandhills, Oxford

The inadequacy of targets as a means of enhancing services is demonstrated by Mid Staffordshire. The hospital trust had resources to achieve waiting-list targets or to care properly for acutely admitted patients but not both. Its quality observers saw the targets being met and thought it was doing well.

The four-hour waiting target helped emergency departments to compete well for support within a hospital’s economy. Meeting targets is great for those who immediately benefit from them but the costs to others are often excessive. Goodhart’s law is valid; when a measure becomes a target it ceases to be a good measure.

Dr Michael crawford

Airedale General Hospital

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Letters to the Editor, The Independent on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF. Email: sundayletters@independent.co.uk. Online: independent.co.uk/dayinapage/2013/July/14

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