IoS letters, emails & online postings (5 May 2013)

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Lord Woolf and others are right to warn that Chris Grayling's proposals on legal aid could lead to miscarriages of justice ("Reforms end 'justice for all', lawyers warn", 28 April). The plans to introduce competitive tendering for criminal legal aid work will destroy community legal services, and herald a race to the bottom which will only favour large corporations that can absorb the losses and deliver criminal defence services at rock-bottom cost. There is a real risk that fixed fees will result in poor quality legal advice and representation, so that people may be convicted of crimes that they did not commit.

Chris Grayling plans to cut civil legal aid as well. Cuts to civil legal aid rates, coming on top of previous cuts in payment rates and removal of legal aid for advice on welfare benefits, employment law, consumer rights, most family disputes and immigration cases, raise the possibility that there will no longer be specialist legal aid lawyers. Civil legal aid might be technically available, but anyone entitled to it will be hard pressed to find a lawyer offering it .

In 2009, the average salary for a legal aid lawyer was £25,000. If Grayling's proposals go through, those who cannot afford to pay for lawyers will find themselves unable to protect their rights.

Liz Davies

Chair, Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers

London WC2

The Olympic games always felt like a London affair ("We have wasted the Olympic legacy", 28 April). City centre screens were great – they got people together, even if they saw Prince Harry yet again rather than competitors giving their all. As to legacy, sadly the Games haven't changed much in England, football with its wall-to-wall coverage still rules as the only game in town. The cost of sport, if you can find somewhere to train and can afford the kit, is prohibitive to most. A few determined kids will, as they always have done, find a way to fulfil their sporting dream. Far from encouraging the rest to join in anything, London 2012 was an expensive elite exercise in how to put them off.

Mary Hodgson


What an excellent statement by Janet Street-Porter ("Who will close the tax loopholes?", 28 April). Over many years, Christian Aid and others have campaigned about tax avoidance and tax evasion by multinational companies. Aid internationally could be made virtually unnecessary if this was resolved, and tackling it as fiercely as benefit fraud is tackled would dramatically change the economic situation – far more money is lost to the Government this way than in any other.

Ernest Cruchley

Halesowen, West Midlands

Janet Vaughan was not Margaret Thatcher's "patronising tutor" ("The Tories have had an arts bypass", 28 April). She was the principal of Somerville, a physiologist and haematologist, who specialised during the Second World War on the effects of starvation, and was the first woman into Belsen after its liberation. It would be hard to find anyone less patronising. Her comment that "nobody thought anything of her" has the bemused admiration of a university don for an unpromising student – and as a chemist, Margaret Roberts was not Nobel Prize material, unlike her real tutor Dorothy Hodgkin – who succeeds unexpectedly in an alien world.

Meg Twycross

via email

Pamela Hibbert makes several good points regarding cyclists (Letters, 28 April), but spoils it with her last one about red lights. Before moving to Devon, I cycled in London for 20 years and was knocked off my bike twice at a red light – where I had waited at the front of the queue – by the car behind accelerating and turning left when the lights changed. The Department of Transport could amend traffic lights to allow cyclists to go five seconds before the rest of the traffic, as they do on the Continent. Ministers and senior civil servants should be made to cycle in London for two hours, twice a week. They would soon come up with the right solutions.

Jonathan Dumbell

Torquay, Devon

Susan Bordo is unhappy with Anne Boleyn's portrayal by English writers ("Anne Boleyn was no soap seductress", 28 April), but it's unfair to criticise Philippa Gregory's The Other Boleyn Girl. It was a novel. You can't expect history and historical fiction always to match.

Emilie Lamplough

Trowbridge, Wiltshire

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