National Theatre's methods of choice

From Lady Soames

Sir: I write with regret and surprise at the tone of disparagement regarding Sir Michael Palliser, and his role in heading the committee set up by the board of the Royal National Theatre to advise upon the appointment of a new artistic director of the National when Richard Eyre retires in the near future ("The National's show of secrecy", 20 February).

Sir Michael and I were appointed to the board of the RNT at the same time in 1988, and I served with him until August last year when I retired from the board of which I had been chairman since 1989. I therefore know, as well as any, the contribution Sir Michael has made, and makes, to the National.

No doubt to have held high diplomatic office and subsequently to have had experience in the world of banking and business are serious drawbacks in your eyes. To many, less prejudiced, such qualifications bring much that can be of value to the board of such an institution as the National.

All appointments to the National are publicly advertised and there is little risk that worthy candidates might be overlooked. I, for one, feel confident that the right man or woman will emerge from the chosen method of selection to carry forward the work and repute of the Royal National Theatre.

Yours faithfully,

Mary Soames

London, W1