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Thursday 25 October 2012
Letters: Was BBC aware of the dressing-room dangers?
False allegations made against people without a lot of money or the connections of a public "celebrity" can destroy a career. Elton John and David (now Lord) Steel were the subjects of false rumour of sexual misconduct or infidelity.
In each case, they were able to refute the allegations and obtain substantial damages from their accusers (although I believe these were donated charity).
But the BBC (and the police and CPS) should have learnt from the case of Jonathan King's conviction for child abuse in 2001 that any rumour or allegation of sexual or any other child abuse should be investigated professionally, not by his boss just asking him, without any preparation or research.
There should certainly have been controls in the BBC after the King conviction preventing access to young children by any individual celebrity alone, in a room without a chaperone.
Much of the child protection procedures are, in fact, designed to prevent just such an occurrence, not just to protect the children, but also to protect adults from false accusations.
Poor old Auntie, under attack from all sides of the media, politicians as well. For what? At worst, making a programme about an unpleasant individual then not broadcasting it because it clashed with a tribute they were planning. Certainly that was a mistake, and hypocritical.
Now hundreds of people who worked in the same media, along with people who worked in institutions that were supposed to be caring for children, have come out of the woodwork to say that of course they knew what Jimmy Savile was up to 30 or 40 years ago.
Some people might think that your headline "When will the BBC tell the whole truth" would be better directed to those people who lauded Savile while knowing that he was a paedophile; yes, including BBC employees.
Where were all these investigative journalists 40 years ago? They've had 40 years to ask questions.
It is not a simple problem, and there are no simple solutions. Perhaps we should be grateful to the BBC for making a programme that might galvanise people into action.
Clips in the Panorama investigation clearly show Savile to have been at least a groper. It does not redound to the credit of those of the press who are, hypocritically, seizing on this as a chance to attack the BBC, that they failed to pick up on this too.
I was proud to work for the BBC for 30 years, and I know it is not short of meeting-rooms. Wouldn't it have saved a lot of bother if, as soon as the Savile/Newsnight story broke, it had used one of them, summoned the Newsnight editor, the two journalists and director of news Helen Boaden to meet the Director-General and established exactly why the Newsnight film was dropped?
It is vital that the revelations about Jimmy Savile continue to be reported. But we all know what he looked like. While you must continue to publish this story do you think you could do this without showing any more photographs of him?
Chichester, West Sussex
Salmond's dog's dinner plans for Scotland
If Scotland secedes, what will happen about the nationality and citizenship of that large part of the Scottish diaspora, the millions of native-born Scots living in England and through the world, none of whom, it appears, will be allowed to vote in the referendum.
My case will not be unusual. My wife and I were born in Scotland, were educated there and were married there. We settled in England in 1971. We are proud of our Scottish heritage and enjoy living in England.
Most members of our extended family live in Scotland, including one of our sons. He was born in England, educated in Scotland, works for a Scottish company and is about to marry a Scot. We visit Scotland regularly.
I wonder if some or all three of us will be able to claim Scottish/English "dual nationality?" Will that be granted automatically or will we have to apply? What will be the qualifying criteria? Birth, marriage, domicile, a combination or something else? If denied "dual nationality", will we have to choose to be citizens of one or the other?
If one or more of us chooses to become a Scottish citizen, will we have to get permission to live and work in England or will we be allowed to stay as non-EU nationals until Scotland gets full EU membership, if indeed it ever does?
If one or more chooses English citizenship, will those born in Scotland have to renounce their heritage and culture and take a test to become English citizens? If expatriate Scots are allowed to choose, should not everyone now enjoying British citizenship be allowed to choose to become English or Scottish?
Has anybody thought about the bureaucracy that will be required to deal with this dog's dinner? If Mr Salmond has thought about any of this, he is not saying.
Whitley Bay, Tyne & Wear
Fresh-air petrol is just too costly
Deriving petrol from fresh air sounds revolutionary but it isn't. Making hydrocarbon fuels such as petrol from hydrogen and any carbon source has been possible since 1923 (Fischer-Tropsh).
The route used in your article "The scientists who turned fresh air into petrol" (19 October) faces severe cost hurdles; carbon dioxide separation from air is expensive (but cheaper than diamonds). The industrial processes in Qatar (Shell) and South Africa (Sasol) use methane gas or coal as carbon sources.
A UK company, Oxford Catalysts, has developed a technology for converting waste materials, biomass and stranded or flare natural gas into valuable liquid fuels. The technology has attractive economics.
In July, this AIM-listed company was selected by Solena Fuels Corporation to supply their GreenSky London waste-biomass-to-jet-fuel project, whose leading partner is British Airways.
The project, a first in Europe, aims to help BA meet its renewable fuel targets by converting municipal waste to jet fuel. The initial plant is expected to supply City airport and is made viable by the value of diverting waste from landfill in London.
Rather than promote a fuel pathway that might well not materialise, might I suggest a focus on some of the great innovations happening here and now, and likely to actually make a real difference.
Professor Malcolm Green
University of Oxford
Chemists do the theory stuff and mechanical engineers the nuts and bolts, so the discipline of chemical engineering was formed to make processes viable. Any self-respecting chemical engineer would tell you that the new "process" for making petrol from thin air might rank above turning lead into gold but probably falls behind cold fusion.
Carbon dioxide needs very large amounts of energy (ref photosynthesis) to convert it to anything useful and more so when it has been captured by sodium hydroxide. Then more energy is needed to convert methanol into a useful fuel or chemical feedstock.
Great Ayton, North Yorkshire
Dementia victims forced to pay more
All I wanted was a digital clock with a large, clear face showing the day, date and time. Prices started at £70 and went up to nearly £200. I could have bought similar clocks showing only the date and time for well under £15.
I work with people with dementia desperately trying to remain independent in their own homes. A clear day/date/time clock can make the difference between them self-medicating properly or seriously overdosing, keeping appointments and knowing when to put the rubbish out: in fact, living safely.
The costs of aids for dementia or other disabilities seem to be unbelievably high. Many products just require tweaking to make them suitable but it appears that you just have to slap a "Disability Friendly" tag on them to quadruple the price.
There seems to be a view that the market is fair game for premium pricing.
We pay extra for Chrome
The new Google Chromebook is "highly affordable — prices start at £229", according to David Phelan's "First Byte" review (22 October). It would be even more highly affordable if Google charged the price here that it does in other countries. The Aussies are being asked for A$241, about £155. It's a similar low price in the States, so we pay a £74 mark-up. I presume Google need such a high margin because of its UK tax load.
Time in the bank
British Summer Time reverts to GMT this Sunday, ending another period of so-called daylight saving. The period after the summer solstice is six weeks longer than the period before, so perhaps the Government should remedy this inequality by introducing it earlier next year; it could put the additional saving to clearing the massive structural deficit it inherited.
Chidham, West Sussex
Adding to errors
However Environment Minister Owen Paterson tries to disguise the U-turn on a badger cull, it is obvious that, yet again, this bunch of Tory/Lib Dem bodgers cannot grasp basic maths.
Bowing to Israel
How humiliating must it be for Americans to watch their President and his challenger vying on national television to prove who has served Israel best? It leaves little doubt that, in the confrontation with Iran, when Netanyahu orders, "Fire!" the US will obediently pull the trigger.
Give us space
Christopher Bratt (letters, 22 October) says, "The sooner our Chancellor starts living on this planet the better". Many of us would be happier if our Chancellor were living on another planet.
Rely on Gove
As a schoolboy, Michael Gove believed he was among "a cocksure crew of precociously assertive boys". So, no change there.
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