IoS letters, emails & online postings (24 March 2013)

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Can anyone explain the logic behind the thinking to allow Batley College, previously a fee-paying independent school, to become a "free" school ("'Not good': Ofsted gives a mixed verdict on reforms", 17 March).

I am sure the parents are delighted, with no more fees to pay. The taxpayer now pays the teachers and picks up the tab for the maintenance of the school, which is wonderful for the managers of the school who don't have to worry about funding issues any longer.

I am at a loss, though, to see the benefit to the nation of this school becoming "free". Michael Gove's rush to promote his vanity project by encouraging independent schools to become free, purely to swell the numbers, seems a complete waste of taxpayers' money.

Simon G Gosden

Rayleigh, Essex


Nick Clegg gives the game away ("If Iraq taught us anything, it's this...", 17 March) when he writes: "In Libya, we used air strikes and special forces on the ground to remove a brutal dictator ... At the UN Security Council we secured a strong mandate for military action ..." UN Security Council resolution 1973 authorised a no-fly zone over Libya and "all necessary measures" to protect civilians – not military action aimed at regime change.

John Heawood

Fulford, York


When Eurostar was transferred to the revitalised St Pancras, a fully functioning high-speed train station was left at Waterloo, unconsidered for the basis of a rail route north out of London ("Revealed: HS2 budget already derailed", 10 March). The proposed HS2 route beyond the M25 is questionable as planners intend to make the trains dive through many tunnels to pass the Chiltern Hills. Latter-day Brunels might do well to learn from their Victorian and Edwardian forebears and follow the existing alignment of the (now) Chiltern Railway out to and beyond High Wycombe. The Government should consider the new Southern England international airport in conjunction with the railway: flight paths would be largely over less populated rural farmland.

Raymond WL Powell

Thame, Oxfordshire


What Janet Street-Porter thinks is an increase in the cost of rail travel is, in fact, a figure published by the Office of Rail Regulation and refers to revenue, not fares (Editor at large, 17 March).

The railway is far from becoming a mode of transport only the "rich and the famous" can afford; more journeys were made by passengers last year than at any time since the 1920s. Booming demand and good-value fares are generating more revenue, helping to ensure that the railway continues to grow.

Tom Smith

Chairman, Association of Train Operating Companies, London WC1


Tim Walker ("Mohamed gets the biopic treatment", 17 March) fails to mention that Moustapha Akkad, the Syrian-American director and producer of The Message, which looks at the life of Mohamed, was killed in November 2005 by an al-Qa'ida suicide bomber in Amman, Jordan. If directors, today, want to portray the life of Mohamed, then no matter how careful you are, as Moustapha Akkad was in ensuring Mohamed was not depicted, then it could mean you put your life at risk.

Kartar Uppal

West Bromwich, West Midlands


As you note, Billy Bragg has both a new album and a new beard. The beard has already won the Beard Liberation Front's Beard of Winter Award and the added gravitas it gives Bragg's music will surely see Tooth & Nail entering the charts.

Keith Flett

London N17


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I like The IoS as a whole, but if my £2 a week got me only a single sheet with Patrick Cockburn's thoughts on the Middle East, I would still think I was getting amazing value.

Mark Chataway

Wyllie, Y Coed Duon, Caerphilly

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