These letters appear in the print edition of The Independent, Saturday 9 March
The savage vengefulness of Vicky Price as she plotted the destruction of her ex-husband is truly scary. She said she “wanted to expose his wrongdoing but not to end his career”; that is like Judas Iscariot feigning surprise when Jesus ended up on the cross.
And she said he made her abort their first child and later tried to make her abort their son Peter, which explains his terrible emails to his father.
I never had much time for Chris Huhne but after 26 years married to a woman capable of destroying her son’s self-image to get at his father, he merits a little understanding.
Dr John Cameron, St Andrews, Fife
Christina Patterson’s column (“Only the cold-hearted could fail to see a brave and brilliant woman who made a mistake”, 8 March) has just made me more exasperated than Ms Pryce’s actions. She was asked to break the law and she did.
To then turn in Huhne and herself was incredibly stupid, an act which Ms Patterson thinks we should have sympathy for.
What tosh. We have utmost sympathy for their son, whose family has just disintegrated, but not for either parent, although a custodial sentence for such technical infringements seems wildly disproportionate.
Allan Jones, London SE9
As Mary Dejevsky suggests (8 March), at the heart of the Huhne/Pryce saga lies major family trauma.
These things are rarely entirely one-sided. In many cases marriages founder initially because the husband is a two-timing so-and-so; but sadly it is often subsequent wifely vengeance that causes the greater long-term damage to the children. The Huhne kid, being older, may initially suffer more.
The law is usually powerless to regulate the fallout from marriage breakdown, but it is rarely in a position (although in this case for other reasons) to punish both parents so dramatically.
Gavin Turner, Gunton, Norfolk
Having waded through seven pages (count them) of the Huhne/Pryce affair (8 March), I was immensely relieved to read in your leading article that you were “reluctant to comment”. I suppose otherwise it could have meant a “pull-out and keep souvenir supplement”?
John Tolley, Rochdale, Lancashire
Greek-born Vicky Pryce is a latter-day Clytemnestra who waited 10 years to take revenge on her husband, Agamemnon and in so doing destroyed him, herself and her children.
Jim Hutchinson, London SE16
A sharp look at the NHS
I have never, ever, read a more succinct, accurate and just plain “right” observation on the NHS than Keith Farman’s letter (“‘Confidence’ in chief of the NHS”, 8 March). Bravo, sir. There is simply nothing to add.
Roger King, St Ives, Cambridgeshire
Don’t bet on it
When gambling was causing a high level of distress the government introduced a law that betting contracts were not enforceable. The solution to sorting out the pay-day loan-shark parasites is to make unenforceable all contracts that are deemed to be deceitful, oppressive or unfair, and/or contain rollover loans. Continuous payment authorities should be made illegal and any person taking money illegally from another’s account should get a prison sentence. Firm action is what is required; threats will achieve nothing.
Malcolm Howard, Banstead, Surrey
Can’t afford ethics
Maarten Westermann (letters, 6 March) makes an interesting point in linking high shareholder value with solid ethical practices, but I fear he may be reversing cause and effect. In my long career in business, I often observed that such practices were among the first things out the window when times got hard.
Gerard Bell, Ascot, Berkshire
Dogma, not science
Steve Connor apparently regards any alleged phenomenon which lacks a clear “mechanism”, expressible in terms of current scientific theories as, by definition, “fiction” (“The rats that ‘talk’ to each other without so much as a squeak”, 1 March). This is authoritarian dogma, not science. Neuropsychologists have yet to come up with a generally accepted explanation of the nature of conscious experience, in strictly materialist terms. Perhaps one day they will, but in the meantime, must we dismiss our thoughts and feelings as make-believe entities, which don’t really exist?
Andrew Clifton, Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire
Devil’s in the detail
David Hargreaves (letter, 27 February) claims that the film Argo demonises Iran, by which I presume he means the regime. Is that possible?
Carolyn Beckingham, Lewes, East Suffolk
The scandal of Britain’s border controls
I am a former Metropolitan Police border control officer and have worked at Heathrow, Gatwick and in Jamaica. Over the years, I have witnessed amazing decisions concerning admission of bogus students. I note with interest the proposals by Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper.
There should be two major barriers to bogus students. The first is the visa issue; the second should be the UK border control as the student arrives. UK visa issue has been subject to cost-cutting to the extent that virtually no visa applicants are interviewed in their own country.
Under the previous government, most UK high commission and embassy entry clearance officers were withdrawn to save money; a decision condemned by all front-line immigration staff. Everything is now paper/email-based although there has been a recent decision that allows prospective Pakistani students to be interviewed due the shambles that surrounds UK visa issue there.
A bogus student re-entering the UK after, say, a holiday, and found to be bogus by the UK Border Force officer is still allowed an “in-country” right of appeal. Thus, he (or she) is allowed in and told to report back for interview and “further enquiries”. Few bogus students caught in this way are removed.
The border controls at sea and airports should be the second line of defence. Queues at airports are such that Border Force officers are frequently discouraged from examining those arriving with visas on the spurious grounds that the work has been done in our embassies and high commissions abroad.
Theresa May’s suggestion about cash bonds for visa-holders has provoked much mirth among rank and file officers involved in border controls, who point out that the present administrative chaos that exists within the UK Border Agency hardly lends itself to an additional administrative nightmare.
Chris Hobbs, London W7
Another wildlife scare story
Another week, another wildlife scare story. This time it’s not badgers or foxes but deer that pose such a problem that they must be ruthlessly culled by up to 50 per cent.
According to your article (7 March), red deer “once threatened the ancient Caledonian pine forests of Scotland”, yet it is human beings, not deer, who treat our woodlands as a resource to be exploited for commercial ends and who expend vast amounts of time and energy each year making sure that our small amount of woodland cover never gets a chance to spread.
Each year, in all of the remaining semi-wild parts of Britain, from Dartmoor to the New Forest to the Scottish Highlands, the Forestry Commission and other bodies burn back gorse and heather to stop the woodland from spreading.
In the case of red deer, allowing trees to recolonise heaths and moors would reduce their numbers without necessitating a cull, reduce greenhouse gases released by burning, and finally do something to push back the centuries-long overmanagement of our natural landscape.
Mark Rutter, Winchester, Hampshire
There could be other benefits from culling Britain’s increasing deer population. Those who look back nostalgically on their days chasing foxes could be employed as hunters and the venison, a lean, healthy meat, could be distributed to people who hanker after processed meat products.
Maybe perhaps the Chinese could be convinced that the magical properties of antlers are an alternative to rhino horn or elephant tusks,
Stuart Brown, London SW14
I assume culling so many deer will lower the price of venison, which might improve our national diet but, on a related matter, when can we expect to see badger meat in school dinners?
Paul Eustice, Worthing, West Sussex
Israel’s great whoppers
Most states tell whoppers. Israel’s are particularly glaring (Howard Jacobson, 2 March). Before it was established, the Zionist movement put out the lie of “a land without a people for a people without a land”. After the 1948 war it lied that the Palestinians fled because their leaders told them to.
Finally, the lie today, articulated by relentless colonisation, is that the West Bank is really Israel, but that it will be nice to the natives by allowing them a couple of hundred tiny enclaves in which to exist.
That a century ago Jews constituted less than 10 per cent of Palestine’s population is a measurement of this string of mendacity.
David McDowall, Richmond, Surrey
RBS must pay back the taxpayers
Mervyn King suggests that RBS should be split in two with a part taking on all the debt and another part separated as a viable high street bank.
I have another suggestion. RBS group could divest themselves of various assets and pay back some of the money they owe to the taxpayer.
For example, RBS bought NatWest some years ago. NatWest has remained a complete unit with a separate brand identity and branches. Couldn’t the high street operation be floated on the stock market through public subscription?
The British public should be allowed to buy shares at a discounted rate after all they have done to bail out RBS. The money raised could be used to recover some of the taxpayer money sunk into the RBS group.
RBS group is massive, with other huge assets which could be sold. I don’t see why the taxpayer has to be left holding the half of the RBS banking group with all the debts. The problems were caused by RBS becoming too big and impossible to manage.
Nigel F Boddy, Darlington, Co Durham