Letters: Diana inquiry

Stupidity, not conspiracy, killed Diana and Dodi
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Sir: If a car is chauffeured too fast then that is the responsibility of the senior people in the car for permitting the driver to break the law. If those passengers are arrogant enough not to wear seat belts then that is their responsibility. If then that car crashes and the passengers are killed that is the fault only of the senior people in the car. They made the wrong decisions. No one else can be responsible in any way.

Dodi and Diana alone were the architects of their own fate. Why have we spent millions inquiring into these inadequate people thinking they are exempt from sensible behaviour? That is was a conspiracy to murder is absurd – who could be clever enough to engineer this stupidity?

Mike Bell


Sir: Now that the Diana inquest has established yet again that an employee of Mohamed Fayed was jointly responsible for the death of the princess, should the Spencer family consider bringing a case against Mr Fayed for corporate manslaughter?

Mike Park

London SE9

Sir: In his brilliant exposure of the Fayed smoke-screen (4 April) Dominic Lawson is wrong to refer to Diana as "dramatically stripped of her royal title". In fact, her lucrative divorce settlement confirmed her royal title as Princess of Wales and her retention of royal privileges and her former status. The loss of the "HRH" style was initially Diana's own idea.

Fayed propaganda against the Royal Family was, of course totally unjustified when the Queen has shown such great concern for the Commonwealth, with its vast mixture of races and religions, throughout her reign. The Duke of Edinburgh's long-standing Awards Scheme has never discriminated against creed or colour, and in a speech to the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Prince Philip has described race prejudice as "a classic example of instinct defeating reason".

Jennifer Miller

London SW15

Sir: So now we know the Duke of Edinburgh didn't do it. Who then, the Dukes of Hazzard? Well, you never know; there's no stopping these conspiracy theorists.

Philip Moran

London N11

How Olympic ideal was compromised

Sir: When China decided it wished to host the Olympic Games it was based on a desire to showcase the success and might of the People's Republic of China, not the purity of the sporting event in itself.

When the International Olympic Committee members voted for China to host the Olympics in 2008 it was again for reasons far from the purity of sport. China represents a huge new market of 1.3 billion people, many of whom have increasing disposable incomes. The presidents of international sports federations who voted for China did so in the hope that the Olympic Games will inspire Chinese people to follow their sports. The equipment manufacturers all hope that whichever sport these fans choose to participate in, they will do so in their shoes. The credit card provider hopes they will use their cards to pay for it.

When the Olympic family chose to ignore the serious shortcomings of the Chinese regime because of the economic potential of an Olympic Games in China, it inextricably implicated itself into the wider debate surrounding the Chinese regime. Sport and the Olympics cannot and do not exist in isolation from the wider socio-political world and it is naive to expect those of us fortunate enough to have freedom of speech not to link the two together and create a focal point for opposition to the Chinese regime.

Sophie Hollow


Sir: I love sport and am passionate about the Olympics. I am dismayed by the events in London and Paris, with celebrity sports persons holding a torch and stating that they fight for the distinction between sport and politics. Unfortunately, the Chinese themselves linked improvement in human rights to holding the Olympics when they applied for it. This they have not done; indeed, it has got worse.

Every celebrity who cannot see that their actions legitimise a dictatorial regime should go and spend a week in Tibet. If the Chinese will let them.

Peter Day

Denaby, South Yorkshire

Sir: At Sunday's Olympic protest I encountered a man who held a banner bearing the slogan "Keep Politics out of Sport". I replied: "Keep sport out of politics."

When I was in China last Summer I experienced the Communist Party's Olympic propaganda first-hand. It was already clear to me that the Games were going to be presented primarily as a showcase of China, and not as a celebration of sport.

James Thompson


Sir: The furore over the Olympic torch procession is directed at China because of its human rights record. Excellent. But let us beware a rolling bandwagon condemning the procession per se. Linking Beijing 2008 with Berlin 1936 (report, 8 April) is not unreasonable as long as we remember it has not been an unbroken line.

Those of us who were in the United States in 1984 saw the torch unite a multicultural nation, with whole communities lining streets in the small hours to honour its passing. The Olympic movement has its faults, but the torch procession should not be counted among them.

Gerald Sinstadt

Stoke on Trent

Sir: After Sunday's inspiring (for human rights campaigners) protests surrounding the Olympic torch as it hobbled and bussed through London, and hearing yet again the official response that "we shouldn't mix politics and sport", I thought it was clear that the Olympic Games have been highly political for years.

So I suggest we add the following "political" sports to the Olympic agenda. Water-boarding – current medallist George Bush; election-rigging – current medallist Robert Mugabe, or George Bush, depending on which of them got to the judges first; and passing the buck – too close to call, there being too many world-class contenders.

Lesley Docksey

Buckland Newton, Dorset

The best way to save the forests

Sir: We greatly appreciate The Independent providing its readers with a brief history of the Rainforest Foundation and its founder, Sting ("The great carbon con: can offsetting really help to save the planet?", 3 April).

Sting did indeed found the Rainforest Foundation 20 years ago in a bid to protect the rainforests and the people who live in them, and the organisation does argue that saving rainforests is key to fighting climate change. But at no point has Sting or the Rainforest Foundation ever bought rainforest or even encouraged "the fad for owning one's very own patch of tropical rainforest". Neither endorses "plant-a-tree conservationism" and, indeed, both have explicitly opposed this.

The Rainforest Foundation believes the best way to protect the earth's rapidly disappearing rainforests is to let the indigenous people who have inhabited the areas for centuries manage the land. For the past 20 years, it has worked with communities in Africa and South America to ensure an area of rainforest the size of the UK remains alive, well and in their hands, and not those of celebrity offsetters or profit-hungry loggers.

As for carbon offsetting, the foundation has never advocated planting trees or protecting forest as a substitute for reducing emissions. In our latest piece of research, "Carbon Sunk", there is a detailed analysis and critique of the whole model of using carbon markets to try to reduce deforestation. In the long run, the only way to tackle climate change is for the industrialised countries to reduce their emissions and for tropical countries to maintain and protect their forests.

Simon Counsell

Director, Rainforest Foundation UK, London NW5

Go out and buy your newspaper

Sir: As daily Independent readers for many years we read with considerable self-interest Stephen Glover's "On the Press" article in your Media section (7 April). Can we help protect our paper's independence?

Being very small investors our immediate reaction was to research Independent News and Media (INM) on the Irish Stock Exchange. I thoroughly enjoyed a video of a small boy delivering the same newspaper up the Shanklin Road and down the Falls Road; interesting but not our point. We discovered a profitable company working world-wide in publishing (mainly newspapers), radio, internet publishing and outdoor advertising.

They are listed on the Irish Stock Exchange so at first we thought adding them to an ISA account would be difficult. To our surprise our internet share broker was able to do this in exactly five minutes on the telephone.

Unfortunately we can only afford a small purchase, but if lots of you out there did the same. . . . Well, 46 per cent of the shares are traded. We could create a sort of mynewspaper.com. We would all promise not to interfere with editorial policies.

Alf WantCaroline Want

Maldon, Essex

Aloof architects rely on technical staff

Sir: I have worked as what is now called an "architectural technologist" for more than 40 years . I endeavoured to obtain the highest construction technology qualifications that were available.

Construction technology is a demanding subject and its knowledge has never been considered a priority by the aloof and arrogantly superior architectural establishment. As long as I have worked in the profession, architects have relied heavily upon poorly paid but highly skilled technical staff for support and technical training, and this has always been a matter of contention within the profession.

David Gloster's assertion that what amounts to "training on the job" is the answer (letter, 7 April) betrays a misunderstanding of what the profession needs. The levels of pay are appalling, and maybe if pay was better, training would get better.

John Mallett


Why put up with nasty tomatoes?

Sir: Alex James claims it would be cheaper for him to go to the supermarket to get tasteless, high-yield tomatoes than to grow them in poly tunnels himself (2 April). It may certainly be cheaper but would he want these ghastly red fruits which all our supermarkets seem to think shoppers want?

Every year, I visit the United States between November and February and marvel at their beautiful, tasty tomatoes and wonder how they can grow tomatoes worth eating when the Spanish seem unable to do so. Even the outrageously expensive ones at my local supermarket which are claimed to be grown for flavour are tough, tasteless and generally nasty.

Why can't we get decent tomatoes? Is it because this wonderful fruit is now treated just as decoration?

Robert Thornberry

Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire

I tried to sell military secrets to Castro

Sir: Thomas Sutcliffe is right to flag up the Combined Cadet Force as a seminal influence on inmates of the English public school system (8 April). My only real recollection of five years at Charterhouse in the 1960s is playing the trombone in the CCF band and trying to persuade sceptical authorities to establish a pipe band.

The highlight of my school military career was writing to Fidel Castro offering him the sale of a "Corps pamphlet". Fidel did not reply, nor, presumably, reported me to the headmaster, as I went on to command the house platoon in the rank of sergeant; a proud moment indeed.

John Mackenzie

Henley, Oxfordshire


Politics on television

Sir: Mark Gallagher (letter, 8 April) states that "Johann Hari is wrong when he says that ITV has 'cut away almost all its political coverage outside the nightly news' ". He then goes on to cite 722 hours of ITV political broadcasting of which 638 hours was, er. . . the news. With respect to lack of meaningful debate in the broadcast media, his letter illustrates the point wonderfully.

Steve Logan


The penny drops

Sir: I find it surprising that it has taken six months for certain Labour MPs to work out that the elimination of the 10 per cent tax band will hurt the lower-paid. I can only assume that they were too busy claiming their expenses to read the Bill when it was passed last year. The sooner we simplify their expenses the sooner they will be able to focus on what they are paid to do. I suggest that instead of being refunded for second-house costs MPs are paid the social housing allowances which have just been introduced.

Lyndon Haddon

Penn, Buckinghamshire

Scruffy language

Sir: I am old enough to remember a time when crusty old colonels wrote to national newspapers deploring the decline in dress standards: young men no longer knotted their ties in the correct manner. Today, it is crusty old PhDs who write in to deplore the decline of the semi-colon and the colon (Letters, 7 April). I dimly remember that when I gained my degree over 40 years ago I was told that English was a language of communication and that the rest was a baggage of squiggles and dots to be used only if necessary.

John Green

Epsom, Surrey

Humane slaughter

Sir: Pain is perceived in the brain, and sharply decreasing the volume of circulating blood will almost immediately cause unconsciousness. After the cutting of the carotid artery using a sharp knife, the brain immediately begins to shut down, as a result of which the animal experiences no pain. The same cannot be said about stunning. If Lord Rooker (report, 7 April) wants halal and kosher meat to be labelled then he should also apply this principle to animals shot or stunned. Only then can I be sure I get the more humane halal or kosher meat on my table.

Adnan Mir


Postal mix-up

Sir: While I sympathise with Mary Harris's dilemma (letter, 8 April) and agree that the ineptitude she encountered at post offices is unforgivable, I suspect a lot of rural readers will be thinking, "What post office? What public transport?"

Alan Lewendon

Fordingbridge, Hampshire