Letters: CPS must start to hunt the hunters


Mr Peter Lewis, Chief Executive of the Crown Prosecution Service (letters, 29 December), says that it is wrong to imply that the CPS is "reluctant to, and does not, prosecute hunting offences".

I am one of the group of monitors who supplied the footage used in the RSPCA's successful prosecution of the Heythrop hunt, and we turned to the RSPCA because more than 30 similar previous submissions by us, relating to several hunts in several counties, had not been prosecuted by the CPS. The RSPCA saw that our footage was of a high standard and duly prosecuted the Heythrop.

Mr Lewis refers to the 371 offences that have been charged by the CPS under the Hunting Act, which is very good; but, with a few exceptions, these have related to the horrible activity of hare coursing, undertaken by a few yobs with lurchers. The prosecution of the wealthy and powerful organised hunts has been another matter, mostly conspicuous by its absence, and I hope that the success of the RSPCA's prosecution will now encourage the CPS to look with new enthusiasm at evidence of the illegal hunting of deer and fox by gangs of animal abusers.

The public need to know that these people are subject to the law of the land. The implementation of the Hunting Act cannot be left to ordinary citizens and charities.

Penny Little

Great Haseley, Oxfordshire

The hunting law is not working. Hunting must be banned completely. So many hunts seem to believe that they are above the law and can continue regardless.

The Hunting Act was drawn up in such a way that the hunting brigade could still hunt. Unfortunately, they have abused it. If it were made a criminal offence even to hunt, there could be no dispute it.

Foxes would not get out of control if not hunted – contrary to Hilary Mills' suggestion (letters, 27 December). Not only do foxes control their own numbers, with some never breeding but acting as surrogate aunts, but more foxes are killed on the roads than are ever killed by huntsmen.

If the proper action had been taken by the authorities in the case of the Heythrop hunt, the RSPCA would not have been faced with such a huge bill. I commend the RSPCA.

P R Abbott

High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire

Crucial details on gay marriage left unclear

Andrew Belsey (letter, 2 January) rightly draws attention to questions that will need answering if the law is changed to extend marriage to same-sex couples.

With regard to non-consummation and adultery, concepts that do not apply to civil partnerships, the consultation paper issued in March 2012 recognised that they would apply "equally to same-sex and opposite-sex couples", but then dodged the difficult issue by stating that "case law may need to develop, over time, a definition as to what constitutes same-sex consummation and same-sex adultery." The Government was promoting a major change in the law but leaving it to the judges to fill in the gaps.

In its response to the consultation, published in December 2012, the Government recognises that to leave the law in such a state of uncertainty would not be acceptable. Instead, the proposal is that same-sex couples will not be able to cite non-consummation as a ground for annulment. Thus, the problem of deciding what, if anything, should constitute "consummation" of a same-sex marriage is avoided. As for adultery, the proposal is to "maintain the current position with regards to adultery in marriage". As the Government explains, this means that if one partner to a same-sex marriage has sexual intercourse as currently defined (ie with someone of the opposite sex), the other partner could cite adultery as grounds for divorce. But if they engaged in sexual conduct with a third person of the same sex, their partner would only be able to cite this as unreasonable behaviour.

The other issues mentioned by Mr Belsey (consanguinity and incest) are not addressed at all.

All this shows that the previous Government was right in making clear, when it introduced the Civil Partnership Bill in 2004, that marriage was not to be affected. As Baroness Scotland said in the House of Lords: "This Bill does not undermine or weaken the importance of marriage and we do not propose to open civil partnership to opposite-sex couples. Civil partnership is aimed at same-sex couples who cannot marry. However, we continue to support marriage and recognise that it is the surest foundation for opposite-sex couples raising children." She was right, and the present Government should think again.

David Lamming

Boxford, Suffolk

It is unclear to me why somebody who believes gay marriage to be wrong, as I do, must be "obsessively homophobic" (Owen Jones, 17 December). Indeed, despite what the gay community may think, or wish, I could not be less interested in their sexuality.

Civil partnerships already exist. So what appears to be foremost in the minds of the gay community are their rights: their right to use the word marriage, and of course their right to adopt children.

Nobody has a right to children. They are a gift, a huge privilege. The exercising of this "right" is a massive experiment by society. Children are not objects for us to use at our discretion. Actually, the children have no say in this whatsoever. Just the increasingly vociferous minority who will put their presumption to have this or that right above all else.

David Cant

Tonbridge, Kent

A culture of compassion

Compassion in the NHS is not dead but is in need of resuscitation. The Chief Nursing Officer for England has called for nurses, midwives and care staff to work towards "a culture of compassionate care". However, no one goes into the healthcare profession to be uncaring or to deliver mediocrity. They often have it thrust upon them due to relentless workloads and organisational constraints.

There are several examples of how the culture of caring can be reasserted. The first is developing the psychological resiliency of the front-line healthcare professionals (resilient workers are able to take care of themselves so that they can better take care of others), the second is promotion of health and wellbeing by workplace managers, and third is building compassion and patient dignity training into the curricula of healthcare professionals, both at student and post-graduate levels.

The College of Medicine is supporting research and evidence-based education that are highlighting the importance of compassion and care of patients and their carers.

Sir Graeme Catto

President, The College of Medicine, London SE1

Barbara Pensom (letter, 24 December) blames cuts for the loss of compassion and kindness in nursing. There are other important factors.

First, the effects of the wider, unkind society in which they have grown up and trained.

Second, their graduate status, which seems to have gone to their heads. Like so many other professionals, they feel so important and safe sitting safely at a desk ticking boxes and filling in forms while the ward descends into chaos.

If there is anything which defines a graduate job, it is that you don't go home until that job is properly done. It is also that you think and act pro-actively if conditions are such that the job cannot be properly done. Without these you are just a bad-tempered non-professional wet hen scurrying around blaming other people.

Alison Sutherland

Kirkwall, Orkney

Amateur analysis of Bruckner

It is good to see someone standing up for Bruckner (Dominic Lawson, 17 December) after another writer described the composer as "the lumbering loony of Linz". But the suggestion that he was "an obsessive-compulsive with a counting mania" is just as wide of the mark.

Perceptions of Bruckner have long been plagued by amateur psychology. Two years ago, I heard a talk (given as part of the Bruckner Journal's biennial conference in Oxford) on his psychology, by a psychologist who concluded that Bruckner did not have an obsessive-compulsive disorder. Being liable to obsessive thinking at moments of stress is not the same thing.

Negative perceptions of the man might explain why so many people feel free to belittle his music. We all have our blind spots, but if we happen not to enjoy the music of one of the established greats, we usually acknowledge that the loss is ours. Why should it be any different with Bruckner?

Dermot Gault


What did Mitchell actually say?

You report that Andrew Mitchell MP has vowed to clear his name (22 December). We have already heard from him what he did not say in Downing Street. Please would you ask him what he thinks he actually did say? That should help a lot to explain what all the fuss is about.

Sir Reginald E W Harland

Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

I agree with the new year resolutions for The Independent suggested by Dr John Coad (letters, 1 January), particularly the reference to the continued use of the suffix "-gate". However, I feel that your headline writers, by using the term "Plebgate" for articles on the affair at the Downing Street entrance, have missed out by not taking the rare opportunity to use the ultimate term: "Gategate".

G I Goodfellow

Cranleigh, Surrey

One of a kind

Your obituarist reports it being said that for Test Match Special, losing Christopher Martin-Jenkins is like the Amadeus String Quartet losing its first violin (2 January). When the Amadeus' viola player, Peter Schidlof, died in 1987, the surviving members decided to disband forthwith. I hope, despite our sadness, TMS will bat on without thought of a declaration.

Anthony Bramley-Harker

Watford, Hertfordshire

Greed addressed

Andrew McLauchlin (letters, 27 December) is wrong to say that the theme of greed "has been studiously avoided by clerics of all persuasions during the current crisis". I recall two articles over Christmas by the Archbishop of York arguing forcefully for the introduction of the living wage.

Tim Mickleburgh


Initial insult

Viv Groskop makes it clear (27 December) that she is no fan of the Queen. I guess that's why she reckons that by conferring in her article a titular downgrade from HM to HRH, she will help create the first step towards a British republic.

Alan Bunting

Harpenden, Hertfordshire

Missing the point

The statement by the US National Rifle Association that "guns don't kill people, people do" may have an element of truth, but the rational conclusion is to stop giving guns to people.

Chris Elshaw

Headley Down, Hampshire

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

Read Next
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012  

Vote Tory and you’re voting for the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer

Mark Steel

If I were Prime Minister: I'd end the war on drugs

Patrick Hennessey
General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected