Letters: Make the press accountable

 

Share

These letters are published in the Tuesday 19 March 2013 edition of The Independent

Press freedom does not belong to the press, to use and abuse with impunity, and a press out of control is not the same thing as a free press. We need a system of press regulation that makes owners, editors and journalists accountable to their readers, and that is enforceable against owners, editors and journalists by those that they hurt. 

To be independent and effective, the system of regulation must be supported by legislation, as proposed by Lord Justice Leveson.

Helen Bore

Marchwood, Hampshire

When I skimmed the Leveson and McCluskey reports my mind turned to Juvenal’s iconic question: “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” Independence from the state is essential for a free press and if an administration can hold journalism to account, then who is left to hold that administration to account?

An unholy alliance of Labour, the Lib Dems and the unelected agitators of Hacked Off claim they seek press “accountability”. They believe there is a yawning gap between the public interest and what interests the public, and demand the power to determine the former and suppress the latter.

The essence of a free press is the ability to publish what powerful people with stuff to hide do not want exposed, and these proposals will end up safeguarding evil.

John Cameron

St Andrews

 The funny thing is that the same right-wing tabloids that are now resisting regulation have been all too willing to throw other people’s civil liberties to the wind when the state or police have wanted to encroach on them. As I recall their consistent argument was, “If you’ve done nothing wrong then you’ve nothing to fear... Only potential criminals oppose these powers.”

Gavin Lewis

Manchester

 

Laws are made so that “thou shalt do no harm”, the principles of ethics so that “thou shalt look out for others”.  We need an ethical press, not a money-grabbing but law-abiding press.  It is the ethos of those who publish that needs to change.

Jon Hawksley

London EC1

 

The EU’s great Cyprus  bank robbery

If I keep £1,000 under my mattress, money worked for and saved, and on which all appropriate taxes have been paid, then that money belongs to me. If a government representative came into my house and decided to unilaterally remove £67, then all right-thinking people would consider that unacceptable, and effectively state theft.

If I chose to deposit that £1,000 in a bank account instead, then that money still belongs to me, absolutely. For a government unilaterally to withdraw money from the account is ethically identical to raiding my house against my wishes.

It seems a Kafkaesque situation that bureaucrats from outside Cyprus could even contemplate trying to impose such an action.

Ian Kirkman

Sandiway, Cheshire

 

Following news of the EU’s proposed smash-and-grab of savings deposits in Cyprus, I am wondering whether I should attempt to insure against the possibility of this happening here. The launch of a new type of policy – EU Bank Account Theft Insurance – could provide a lucrative new revenue stream for our banks to replace the funds they are losing as they repay borrowers who took out payment protection insurance.  And so it goes.     

Nigel Scott

London N22

 

What we expect of Pope Francis

Like most Catholics I am pleased that our new pope has announced a policy to focus on the poor. It is much needed. However there is one policy that it seems will remain unchanged, which is the religious ban on contraception.

We in the west happily ignore the church’s teaching as irrelevant and not a fundamental part of Christ’s teaching. However, those in the developing world do not see it this way, and as a result have large families that they can ill afford to keep and are responsible for keeping them in poverty.

If there is one easy and significant step that he could take that would have real economic results, it would be to revise the Catholic teaching on contraceptives, and let women , and men, control the size of their families.

Tony Kane

Wimbledon

 

It seems that St Francis of Assisi was the inspiration for the new pope’s choice of name. Given Pope Francis’s reputed espousal of humility and simplicity, it would be entirely fitting for him to choose the name of a devout Catholic deacon, who declined to become a priest because he doubted his worthiness of that office.

However, the fact that the name is shared by St Francis Xavier, a notable missionary and the patron saint of evangelisation, may also have won him some friends in high places.

Interestingly, his third namesake, St Francis de Sales, is a patron of communications and the media. After recent public scandals involving the Church’s hierarchy, Pope Francis may well find himself looking to this saint’s example as much as anyone else’s – except, we hope, that of Christ Himself.

Carolyn Angwin-Thomson

Ilfracombe,  Devon

 

What an excellent week for the media, covering the election of the new pope. How photographically spectacular was the pomp, ceremony and centuries-old tradition associated with the formation of the conclave, the election process and finally the presentation of Pope Francis.

And now let us count the days until the same media start their criticism of an outmoded church and its reliance on pomp, ceremony and centuries-old tradition.

Adrian Jordan

Birmingham

 

Apologia for apostrophes

The media have carried the story that Mid Devon, my local authority, plans to abolish apostrophes from its documents and street signs, a barbarian idea. As the authority can prosecute for illegal advertising, illegal fly-tipping and for pollution offences in general, could Parliament not pass a law against linguistic pollution?

We have a pub locally which has a sign saying: “Youv’e just passed The Fishermans Cott”. That could be £100 for misusing an apostrophe and another £100 for omission. Every public figure who says “up and down the country” or “at this moment in time” could face an on-the-spot fine of £50 in the first instance, doubling thereafter. Broadcasters who muddle “testament”  with “testimony” might get away with a caution, provided they attended remedial classes.

A full code of offences and its enforcement could lead to a rapid solution to the public debt crisis.

T H C Noon

Cadeleigh, Devon

 

Well never be well and Ill be ill if the apostrophe is abolished.

Andrew Belsey

Whitstable, Kent

 

The dire state of Iraq today

While the row over the alleged manipulation of intelligence by politicians ahead of the invasion of Iraq shows no sign of abating (“West ‘ignored evidence from senior Iraqis’ that WMDs did not exist”, 18 March), the human rights legacy is relatively clear.

It is dire. Saddam Hussein’s brutal rule is long gone, but Iraq remains enmeshed in a grim cycle of human rights abuses, including relentless attacks on civilians, the near-systematic torture of detainees followed by unfair trials, and widespread use of the death penalty.

The thousands of victims of injustice in Iraq in the past decade include Ramze Shihab Ahmed, a 70-year-old dual Iraqi-UK national serving a 15-year jail sentence after a deeply unfair trial. His conviction rests partly on a “confession” allegedly tortured out of him, including with electric shocks to his genitals. Readers can support the campaign for justice for Mr Ahmed at:  www.amnesty. org.uk/ramze.

WMDs didn’t exist back in 2003, and for the most part the human rights gains promised the Iraqi people after Saddam’s removal have also failed to materialise.

Kate Allen

Director, Amnesty International UK

London EC2

 

One Attlee  was enough

“We need a new Attlee” (Letters, 18 March)? Like a hole in the head.

Throughout the countdown to war, Labour under Attlee howled down every move to rearm against Germany as “Tory armaments”. Then, to win the 1945 election, Attlee’s Labour propaganda damned Conservatives as the “guilty men” who had plunged Britain into war.

Attlee’s policy of scuttle in India precipitated over 2 million Hindu and Muslim deaths in mutual slaughter. And he imposed peacetime bread rationing on a Britain which had never known it during the war.

On second thoughts, just the man for the debased politics of 21st-century Britain.

Richard Humble

Exeter

 

Theories about the universe

Can I be allowed to do some Bible thumping on Colin Jones (Letter: “Higgs and God”, 16 March)? If, as I believe, the Lord read Colin’s letter, He, no doubt, would have had a bit of a giggle.

In Paul’s letter to the Colossians (ch 1, v 16,17) we read about Christ: “All things were created by Him. He is before all things and in Him all things hold together.” Science and religion have everything to do with each other.

Alec Hall

Margate, Kent

 

Real eggs

It would seem from Jane Gregory’s letter (18 March) that Waitrose’s marketing department is unaware of the “Real Easter Eggs” being sold this year in their stores and in many other leading supermarkets. These Fairtrade chocolate eggs explain the Easter story on the box and contain a colourful poster, “The real meaning of Easter,” recounting the events of Holy Week and Easter. Perhaps Jane Gregory could buy one and send it to Waitrose’s marketing director.

DAVID LAMMING

Boxford, Suffolk

 

Island rights

David Crawford (letter, 18 March) quite rightly points out that Argentina should acknowledge the rights of the Falkland Islanders and the Mapuche to self-determination. The problem is that we British are not in a position to criticise. We are still preventing the indigenous population of the Chagos Islands from returning to their homeland.

Trevor Walshaw

Holmfirth,  West Yorkshire

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

Read Next
‘Would Gary Lineker depart if his pay were halved, and would it affect the quality of MoTD?’  

BBC Me – no Archers, and no Fiona Bruce

DJ Taylor
Feeling the heat: David Cameron last week in Lanzarote  

The parable of the PM and the jellyfish

Joan Smith
How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit