There is a danger of all police being tarred with the same brush when it comes to the present allegations of a compensation culture permeating the service (reports, 4 and 8 April).
This is exemplified by the case of the Norfolk policewoman who plans to sue the victim of a burglary because he allegedly failed to point out some hazard on his premises which caused her to injure herself when she attended the incident.
Perhaps the new Police and Crime Commissioners could justify the government’s decision to create their posts as being more identifiable focal points to which the people could take their concerns than their predecessors, the largely anonymous Police
This could be achieved by liaising to publish regularly in the national press league tables showing how the 43 forces compared when it came to compensation claims. The introduction of such a policy would certainly help to concentrate the minds of our chief constables on making optimum use of scarce resources.
And there seems no valid reason why the idea could not be extended down to publishing in local papers details of how police chiefs of the districts within the various forces compared when it came to not only compensation claims but also the management of other drains on resources such as sick leave and overtime and complaints.
According to my calculations, the £70m handed to 8,000 police officers in compensation comes to an average claim of £8,770.
With one third of the claim going to the taxman it would leave the average claimant with about £6,000 to repay the police authority for any sick pay claimed while away from work.
Good then, to see those fearless guardians of the public purse, our MPs, themselves shining examples of modest expenses claims, watching every penny paid out.
Measles should belong to history along with polio
The measles epidemic in Swansea has highlighted the incomplete immunisation among children. This is in part due to the actions of Andrew Wakefield, who published a flawed study suggesting a correlation between the MMR immunisation and autism.
The poor methodology of the study and recruiting children for money at a birthday party meant the paper should never have seen the light of day. In an age of greater media responsibility, the collective press must also be culpable for the sensationalistic reporting of flawed research that lead to an unneccesary concern over the MMR vaccine. Measles should be consigned to the history books alongside polio.
The recent outbreak raises the question of whether immunisation of children should be the choice of the parent, or a compulsory act. Vaccination may draw into question the very principles of medicine.
Should parents have autonomy over a decision that reaches beyond their own family? Justice is served in preventing every subsequent case of measles.
General Surgical Trainee, Wales
I am astonished, angered and saddened that you are giving publicity to Mr Wakefield and his discredited opinions about the MMR vaccine.
The way in which the media gave credence to his “research” of the late 1990s was the cause of the measles outbreak since it directly resulted in takeup of MMR falling.
This research is now officially withdrawn.
Is it really impossible and undesirable for parents to choose the single measles shot? Of course, measles is a serious illness but neither rubella nor mumps bother young children; for adults both are quite trying, as I remember too well.
And rubella is dangerous for babies in utero. All women of child-bearing age should probably have a rubella vaccine.
As a grandmother, I supported my daughter when she chose to give her children the single vaccine although it cost her considerably.
As a farmer and horse-owner, I can think of no animal which is given a triple dose of vaccines. But again, no horse can go out in public without a vaccination certificate for horse flu.
Would it be too extreme to insist that schools asked parents to produce a measles vaccine certificate for their children first entering school? Girls should be asked to have the rubella jab at the end of primary school. There would be no need to panic further.
P A Reid
Blair better not try a comeback
You suggest that Tony Blair might be “positioning himself for a comeback” (report, 6 and 7 April). Later, you highlight the “damning evidence” that will result in the Chilcot Inquiry report severely criticising Blair.
Blair’s spokesperson says: “If people do want to see the intelligence reports, they are published online”. As Blair well knows, that is not the issue. The delay to the publication of the Chilcot Inquiry’s report is due to what has not been published.
Mr Blair has to ask himself what kind of political comeback he could make here, seeing that whenever he attempts to appear in public he has to cry off because of inconvenient protesters.
Even without the unpublished evidence, it is clear that he took this country into a highly illegal invasion and war, and that he misled Parliament in order to do so. On both counts, he could, and should, be prosecuted.
Any attempt to publicly lobby for a return to the political stage will ensure a queue of people waiting to make a citizen’s arrest. One way or another, we will get him into court, here or in The Hague.
Buckland Newton, Dorset
Auditors need independence
James Moore writes an excellent article relating to HBOS and its auditors (Business, 11 April). But the problems will never go away while auditors, particularly of all listed companies (and not just banks), continue to be answerable only to those who hire, fire and pay them, the audited company and its directors.
Contrary to popular belief, they, like directors, have no legal responsibility to the shareholders . Independence is a joke. It is high time that legal responsibility was to some independent body (such as the Financial Conduct Authority) which can (and should) ask searching questions.
Auditors should be an integral part of our overall corporate governance. Mr Moore wonders about the quality of the The Financial Reporting Council. Quite right. In 2010, the FRC issued a discussion paper entitled Auditor Scepticism: Raising the Bar, but nothing further appears to have happened.
This document, plus the feedback paper of March 2011, have also inexplicably disappeared from the FRC’s website. Why?
Stern Gang and Hitler
I note Robert Fisk’s request about the displaying of a swastika in Jerusalem (World, 8 April). The Jewish terrorists known as the Stern Gang tried to form an alliance with Hitler during the Second World War. This is documented in James Barr’s excellent book, A Line in the Sand.
Just as astonishing is his revelation that the Stern Gang and others were armed by the French. It is regrettable that while British soldiers were dying to liberate France, France was arming terrorists killing British soldiers in Palestine. His assertions are backed by documents in the bibliography.
New appeal for Amanda Knox
I have been disappointed with your coverage of the murder of Meredith Kercher. You mention (12 April) that Amanda Knox was acquitted of the murder on appeal, but you fail to mention that both the original conviction and the acquittal are provisional in Italian law until confirmed by the Court of Cassation, the supreme court of Italy.
On 25 March, the acquittal was annulled by the Court of Cassation. The status of the two defendants now reverts to the position after the original conviction and a new appeal has been ordered.
Let’s look at who gets the benefits
The Left is expressing egregious outrage that anyone should dare to question the level of benefits paid to those who have chosen to have large families. Osborne’s intervention may or may not have been tasteless politicking, but the DWP table you published (6 April) of the actual numbers of unemployed benefit-dependent families was fascinating.
It would also have been useful to have seen an equivalent table of the numbers of in-work families of low earnings also in receipt of benefits for large numbers of children. We are told that the Tories are exaggerating the scale of benefit dependency. It would be helpful to have the full picture.
Any government which targeted the wealthiest 1 per cent as aggressively as the present Government targets the poorest 10 per cent would no doubt be accused of waging “class war”.
Clobbering those already struggling to make ends meet is not the way forward. A “Citizen’s Income” (as proposed by the Green Party) would be a fairer way of ensuring that anyone taking a job (full-time or part-time) would be better off than if they didn’t.
That’s not fiction
I was saddened to read that author Iain Banks has been diagnosed with terminal cancer (4 April). Given that his middle name is Menzies, it’s hardly correct for you to describe Iain M Banks, the authorial name attached to hs science fiction novels, as a “pseudonym”.
Martyn P Jackson
Bearing in mind the comments made by David Sharp (letters, 10 April), about the 32 pages of the paper devoted to Mrs Thatcher’s death, I am reminded of the report on Princess Anne’s wedding to Mark Phillips in the Morning Star many years ago. It read simply: “Anne Windsor was married yesterday. Traffic was held up in London.” Food for thought?
Will Arthur Scargill also be given a semi-state funeral? He, too, was a national figure hated by millions.