Letters: Judges' brave stand against torture


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The Independent Online

Abu Qatada has not been deported because – thankfully – our judges are standing against torture.

Once we were a beacon of justice, freedom, the right to a fair trial and the right not to be water-boarded or electro-shocked. Now people living in the UK have no such rights because successive governments here don't have the backbone to prosecute people in our land for breaking our laws (while still holding their rights as sacrosanct). It is our security services, unlike much of Europe, who won't let a jury of our peers hear damning electronic intercepts that would put those intent on harming us behind bars (like Qatada, allegedly).

Instead we render/deport civilians – often innocents who have been ineptly identified – to far-off places where they are never heard from again. We have no business lecturing the Chinese on locking up their dissidents, the Russians for murdering their journalists or the Uzbeks for boiling people alive. For years we have been a willing participant in ugly and mounting injustices on our own citizens that should shame us.

This century alone, hundreds of thousands of our countrymen have fought and died for human and democratic rights that are being stolen from under our noses – 800-year-old rights the English have expected since King John signed the Magna Carta.

Thankfully some of our judges are yet to be crushed into submission. They alone seem to remember the society we once strived to be internationally.

Stefan Wickam

Hove, East Sussex

How long do we have to put up with this ass known as the law? As in so many parts of this human-rights morass, justice has become a toy factory for lawyers in which the right of one individual to interminable reviews and appeals completely blots out something as important – justice for the rest of us.

The rights of any one individual must be the basis of a justice system, but not at any cost. It is our money that is being thrown at this protracted judicial process and our legitimate outrage as a society that is being heeled into the mud by these one-eyed legal vultures.

Lionel Hanaghan


Rather than continue her efforts to deport Abu Qatada, Theresa May should seek to find an alternative solution by arranging for a trial in this country using Jordanian prosecutors and an international judge, with British human-rights lawyers in attendance with the ability to challenge the authenticity of any evidence the prosecution seeks to put forward.

Brian Crews

Beckenham, Kent

Now can we see a politician take responsibility?

The politicians who lined up to demand the resignation of the BBC's recently appointed Director General, George Entwistle, because he was not aware of the content of every programme across BBC output, will be dancing in the aisles to celebrate the damage done to probably the only British public institution that still has a global reputation for basic honesty.

I wonder if they will now also demand the immediate resignation of Patrick McLoughlin, Secretary of State for Transport, who denied any responsibility for more than £100m compensation payments for the West Coast rail franchise farce, as he – the politician – could not be expected to know about every action taken by his civil servants, so sacked three of them instead?

Malcolm Macintyre-Read

Much Wenlock, Shropshire

We should be very wary of listening to baying politicians and rival networks wanting to take the BBC down more than a peg or two.

Ben Bradshaw has cited the Gilligan affair as another example of BBC malfeasance; whereas we all now know that Gilligan, in spite of Hutton, was substantially correct, and that Alastair Campbell and the Labour government used the incident to cover their own tracks and to hobble the BBC, causing a quite unnecessary bloodbath of good senior people, and undermining the self-confidence of the whole organisation and of its excellent journalists.

It is actually a tribute to the journalistic integrity of the BBC that at different times politicians of all parties take a pop at and try to weaken the BBC.

Let us hope that a new DG with more steel will be found quickly, who will thin out and sharpen up BBC senior management. But above all, he or she will need to restore self-confidence, so that the BBC can once again be journalistically challenging and resistant to political pressure.

Gavin Turner

Gunton, Norfolk

George Entwistle is a decent man whose career has been destroyed and he should most certainly have his compensation in full. As for the worth of the BBC – I would willingly pay the licence fee just for the main radio stations. They have always been priceless, both in war and peace, and have been heard with confidence throughout the world. We must not let commercial competitors use their influence to damage this great institution.

David Hindmarsh


Put Starbucks out of its misery

We read that Starbucks has reported a taxable profit only once in its 15 years of operation in the UK; in consequence over this time it has paid just £8.6m in corporation tax. It is reported that its chief financial officer has said: "We're not at all pleased about our financial performance here."

These multinational companies come to Britain to enjoy the benefits of trading in a secure, politically stable environment, yet do their very best to weasel out of making any realistic contribution to the upkeep of their host nation or the education and welfare of its people.

Given the terrible trading performance of Starbucks, surely it would be an act of mercy to the shareholders of this multinational for our Government to introduce "coup de grâce" legislation to force the closure of its UK operations?

Alan Stedall


Surely the people being questioned ought to be the law-makers and their superiors who created the provisions for tax avoidance and not the companies that are complying with the law?

Laurence Shields

Chesterfield, Derbyshire

It would be interesting to know if the British taxpayer is subsidising Starbucks through the payment of working-tax credits to its staff.

Kate Francis


Plight of English rugby fans

As an avid long-term supporter of English Rugby Union, I am grossly disappointed to find the coverage of their 2012 seasons matches are restricted to Sky subscribers.

I, as a pensioner, cannot afford to line Murdoch's pocket, so am only able to watch every other nation play the game, with perhaps glimmers of England's efforts via the BBC news.

Are we to assume that the RFU is so strapped for money that it goes for the highest bidder? Am I to resign myself to accepting the same outcome for the Six Nations and World Cup coverage?

Shame on the RFU and the BBC. National English sport is a delusion unless the majority of English supporters can follow it via a national medium, paid for by licence.

Harry Brown

Dereham, Norfolk.

The Olympic spirit lives on

I have just paid my first two visits to central London since the Olympic Games. On the first occasion, a young man asked if he could help as I dithered on the pavement not knowing which way to go. He pointed me in the right direction.

Later, when I was trying to negotiate roadworks on a crossroads, a male voice said "I am right behind you" in case I stepped back. He waited while I decided upon the right route. On the Tube, another man, as he exited, handed me my hat, which had fallen on the floor. Yesterday, another man offered me his seat on the Tube, and three people offered to help an overweight older man who was having difficulty in getting his breath as he climbed the exit stairs.

No, I am not a woman, just an ordinary, healthy male pensioner. The Olympic Games spirit of helpfulness lives on!

Nicholas McGeorge

Lymington, Hampshire

Party political policing?

Who says that the new Police Commissioner appointments won't be politically driven? I've just been hand-delivered a newsletter from the prospective Conservative candidate for Essex, by Jim Ketteridge, Conservative leader of Uttlesford District Council, also in Essex.

Brad Ingram

Saffron Walden, Essex

The Archbishop's heavenly views

Not only does Mr Welby call to mind Jesus overturning the tables of the money changers, he is clearly following Christianity's tradition of making (and getting into) trouble. ("Archbishop-elect shows no fear of demons in pinstripe suits", 12 November). His opposition to ministers' lending plans is loud and clear; will the new Archbishop continue to be as divinely troublesome?

Helen Kraus

Brentford, Middlesex

Votes that count

David Blanchflower notes (12 November) that New Hampshire is not as important as California and Texas in the Electoral College. Those states are solidly Democratic and Republican, respectively. Meanwhile, New Hampshire is a perennial swing state. Does he need reminding that if New Hampshire's four Electoral College votes had gone to Al Gore rather than George W. Bush in 2000, Gore would have won the White House?

Martin Carter

Gosport, Hampshire

Poppy absurdity

The arrest of a 19-year-old man for allegedly showing a picture of a burning poppy is absolutely outrageous. I feel like writing to my MP, but she is in the Australian jungle right now. The problem is not simply overzealous policing, but with absurd and oppressive laws.

John Dakin

Dunstable, Bedfordshire

Posh price index

Like Gunter Straub (letter, 10 November), I, too, wonder why inflation drops when all my day-to-day costs are rising. Can it be that we ordinary mortals fail to give proper consideration to the effects of cheaper tiaras, polo ponies and the like? After all something must have fallen.

Madge Alston