Letters: The Falklands

A charm offensive in the Falklands?

Click to follow
The Independent Online

How is it that, in this age of all-important PR, Argentina still adopts threatening tactics in its dispute with Britain in respect of the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands? Why not go for the charm offensive instead?

Flood the disputed territory with privileges, invitations to important national events, encourage all kinds of contacts, free movement etc. and target the younger generation in particular rather than those in power at the moment.

It will take time but how long have the disputes carried on so far? What's the hurry? Give it a generation or two and, with the right kind of management, the argument will no longer exist.

Buenos Aires – take tango to Malvinas and seduce the islanders!

Aila Dockree

Sidcup, Kent


"Las Malvinas son Argentinas" appears on road signs all over Argentina. For Argentines, the Falklands remain their birthright. However strong the case may be (and it is a very strong one indeed) for the Falklands to remain British, it is a complete waste of energy to try to convince any Argentine that these beautiful, if stark, islands do not belong to them. All their national maps include Las Malvinas as part of their territory and, most extraordinary of all, for the 25th anniversary of the conflict in 2007, they struck a special 2 pesos coin with a map of the islands and an inscription that reads Malvinas Argentinas. 2 De Abril 1982.

Hallam Murray

London SW11


Philip Hensher (3 February) ignores Argentina's hypocrisy in presuming to control the lives of the 3,000 people of the Falkland Islands while continuing to deny self-determination to the 250,000 people of the indigenous Mapuche nation, whose independent country Argentine (and Chilean) colonialists illegally invaded in 1862. We should actively support their campaign for the human dignity enjoyed by the Falkland Islanders.

David Crawford

Bromley, Kent

It has begun already – nationalistic jargon, in relation to the Falkland Islands. Prince William just happens to be sent there on the eve of the war's 30th anniversary, the Argentine public feels antagonised, and we dismiss it with typical arrogance.

It did seem odd at the time that we went so far, with a large task force, to protect a group of islands that hardly anyone had heard of. What even fewer people knew back then was that there are oil resources in the South Atlantic, which we are now drilling for. Do you think that played a part in our decision to go?

"What about protecting British civilians?" you may ask. A valid question; but then the people of Diego Garcia were forced off their Island, never to return, by our own government, in order to allow the US to build a vast military base.

So this does rather throw into question the motives behind this conflict, and indeed most wars that we have fought, particularly over the past 10 years or so.

Colin Crilly

London SW17


Action needed to protect cyclists

Mary Dejevsky's comments on cycling in the city (1 February), prompted by the acquittal of the driver of the petrol tanker which crushed James Moore on the grounds that he claimed "he'd checked his mirrors before pulling away", are spot on both in noting the lethal dangers of urban cycling and in justifying the defensive aggressiveness of London cyclists.

Cycling as I do in a substantially smaller city – Canterbury – I am forced to recognise not only the dangers of urban cycling but also the sheer irresponsibility of the authorities in failing to work to reduce those dangers. Last year a bus passing me while avoiding a speed bump forced me into the curb, knocking me to the ground, and failing to stop. With the help of a following driver and a partial registration number the police were able over the course of a month to track down the driver who, despite witnesses and a substantial investment of police time, was simply let off without even a summons because he told the investigating officer "I didn't see him".

A couple of months later I voluntarily took a driving awareness course, put on by the Kent Police, which in the course of eight hours of excellent and detailed instruction about speed, noting motorcyclists and pedestrians, and interpreting road conditions, totally avoided the topic of cyclists and how to avoid putting them at risk. When I asked the instructor at the close of the session why not a single mention of cyclists had been made he replied simply: "It's not on the syllabus."

Glenn Bowman



Ghost bikes (report, 3 February) such as the one in memory of Eilidh Cairns in London's Notting Hill are a quiet, aesthetic way for loved ones to pay tribute to their lost, and an effective means of reminding both motorists and cyclists to take care on dangerous sections of road.

It is a great shame that Manchester City Council does not take this same view. The Council has refused permission for the friends and family of Colm Glackin (26), who died outside Wythenshawe hospital on 17 November 2011 following a collision with a lorry, to erect a ghost bike in his memory at the site of the accident. We hope and ask that they will change their mind.

Eoin Dinneen

London W3


The rise in cyclists' deaths and injuries is tragic. Surely it was irresponsible of Boris Johnson to introduce his London cycling scheme without also improving cycle lanes and other measures to protect cyclists from buses and HGVs? Unless Boris wants to be remembered as the Mayor whose bike scheme merely added to the numbers of cyclists at possible risk, he should take to the headlines again to stir the transport minister to do his job properly and protect these most vulnerable road users.

Our family straddles both camps: our daughter worked to promote Boris's scheme, even as her cyclist brother (on his own bike, not one of Boris's) was run down by a commercial vehicle in London, sustaining injuries that took months to heal.

Christine Butterworth



No abuse of power by Cheshire police

I completely disagree with the impression created by "Police raid on whistleblower's home was total abuse of power" (31 January).

In September 2011 the current Information Commissioner wrote to ask Cheshire Constabulary to investigate potential offences under the Data Protection Act, in relation to a former employee of the Information Commissioner's Office, Alec Owens. The Information Commissioner thought it inappropriate for his office to investigate the matter as there was a potential conflict of interest and wanted the investigation to be independent. Cheshire Constabulary was contacted as the local police force for the office of the Information Commissioner.

Detectives carried out a proportionate investigation into the alleged offences. This included taking statements of evidence and executing a search warrant at Mr Owens' home. Mr Owens was not arrested at that time, and he handed them material relating to the investigation. Mr Owens raised concerns with the investigating detectives about the consequences for his forthcoming evidence to Lord Leveson's inquiry. The police investigation into the alleged offences was carried out in a way to minimise any prejudice to Mr Owens evidence to Lord Leveson's inquiry, this included informing solicitors to the inquiry what was taking place.

Mr Owens was interviewed at a later date and a file of evidence was sent to the Crown Prosecution Service. It is the role of the police to gather evidence and establish the facts; it is a decision for the CPS and not the police as to whether a matter proceeds to court. The CPS decided that there was no realistic prospect of a conviction as Mr Owens had a statutory defence of acting in the public interest. The Constabulary informed both Mr Owens and the Information Commissioner of the CPS decision.

Cheshire Constabulary accepted a complaint from the Information Commissioner and acted in accordance with our duty to investigate any allegation of a criminal offence. We do not raid people's homes at other people's request as you reported. The Constabulary has a duty to investigate complaints made from whoever makes them, when there is evidence an offence may have been committed. We also have a duty to act in a reasonable, proportionate and justifiable way. I am satisfied that the involvement of the Constabulary was all of those things and that Mr Owens was treated professionally.

David Whatton

Chief Constable of Cheshire Constabulary, Winsford



Who cares about the Olympics?

I entirely agree with Dominic Lawson. He might have added that, although we are all paying for this (including beach volleyball on Horse Guards Parade, for heaven's sake!), most people are not actually much interested in athletics. When did you last hear people talking about athletics in the pub?

Chris Bolger



Presumed innocent

Your leading article "Not such innocent presumptions" (4 February) is misconceived, for it presupposes that any form of behaviour is acceptable, provided it is not actually criminal. Criminality has to be proved beyond reasonable doubt, on the principle that it is better to acquit 100 guilty people, rather than convict one who is innocent.

A functional society requires much higher standards than that, and public opprobrium of wrongdoing is the only realistic sanction.

David Culver

London SE9


Bonus culture

Many years ago, when I was a sales rep, it was common for jobs to be advertised on a "commission only" basis: no success meant no income.

If top executives today worked on such a basis I would not deny them a bonus for success. But they do not. The salaries of Stephen Hester (£1.2m) and Bob Diamond (£1.35m) are very substantial; to add bonuses on top is simply obscene.

Even worse, to consider paying bonuses to executives of Network Rail, a body found guilty of such incompetence that it led directly to a loss of life, is simply repugnant.

Peter Henderson

Worthing, West Sussex


Fantastic idea

Here's a fantastic idea. Ban the word "fantastic" from the airwaves.

Antique and house-hunting programmes are extremely fond of the word, often using it twice in one sentence. Radio 4 is another aficionado.

M D Essinger



Football lessons

The problems faced by Glasgow Rangers show why Scotland is deluded if it thinks Scotland is better off alone. Rangers and Celtic are wasted football powers, being independent from the English league. Where has independence got them? In European terms they are hard-up, irrelevant and nondescript. And the sectarian shadow haunts them.

All this is a microcosm of Salmond's future Scottish nightmare. Like the Cornish, the Scots may not be English, but like the Cornish cousins are better off British and in the UK.

Tim James