If the authorities can exclude Caster Semenya from athletics, why not ban the wealthy from competitive skiing?

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Thursday 02 May 2019 17:06 BST
Court of Arbitration for Sports secretary explains why appeal by Caster Semenya against testosterone rules failed

Now that the not-very-sporting “sporting” world has come down on the wrong side of the Caster Semenya issue there are follow-up questions that need to be asked.

Linking the issue of transgender athletes with a naturally born woman such as herself is a spurious red herring. Also, the nonsense spouted by UK swimmer Sharron Davies that there is a parallel between Semenya and the doped-up Iron Curtain athletes of yesteryear is bonkers. Both arguments have skewed the issue madly. Semenya is a woman. Full stop.

If being born a woman can exclude you from women’s sport because of an “advantage” of birth, I presume that wealthy people will now be barred from dressage, rowing and ski events?

Amanda Baker

Recall Gavin Williamson

Gavin Williamson is sacked for allegedly leaking details of the Huawei contract. Now what? Breaching the Official Secrets Act, should mean prosecution, possibly jail. As defence minister, surely expulsion from parliament should follow, plus the mentioned penalties. I would assume there would be this clamour for action if leaks came from the opposition! Why not now?

Voters should ask for a recall petition and have him face a by-election. If he was my MP, I would demand nothing less.

Gary Martin
London E17

What happens after an assault should be used as evidence

In recent discussions of the examination of complainants’ phones in rape and sexual assault trials, one central fact seems to have been overlooked. Rape is the absence of consent at the moment of sexual contact. It is not safe in any degree to infer consent from anything that has gone before in the alleged victim’s life. Everybody is entitled to change her or his mind right up to the very moment of the offence alleged. Too often we have seen women – nearly always women – humiliated because their quite legitimate lifestyles show an enjoyment of sex in a way that defence lawyers portray as sluttish, implying consent. That is wrong: no is always no. Evidence of those lifestyles should never be a defence strategy.

What is relevant to a defence is what has been done after the alleged assault. After-the-event communications between the complainant and the alleged offender, between the complainant and friends, between the alleged offender and others, all could reveal facts of use in court and should be disclosed to both parties in the interests of justice. To protect complainants’ privacy, disclosure should be limited in this way.

Richard Hanson-James


Who can we trust?

Is the Gavin Williamson who has just been sacked as Theresa May’s defence secretary for allegedly leaking plans discussed in the National Security Council to allow Chinese telecom firm Huawei to build the UK’s 5G network, the same Gavin Williamson who told us last year that it’s Jeremy Corbyn who “can’t be trusted”?

Sasha Simic
London N16

Why hydrogen isn’t a good solution to the climate crisis

The article on action needed to combat climate change in Thursday’s Independent referred to the use of hydrogen as a substitute for natural gas in homes and factories, using the existing gas distribution network. Given the different properties of hydrogen and natural gas, this would mean modifications to the gas network which would be costly and take decades. There would also be a need to change from gas-burning boilers to some form of heat pump.

Surely this is crazy? If hydrogen can be generated efficiently it should be converted to electricity at source. That electricity would then be the natural gas substitute. This would probably mean reinforcing the electricity distribution system, which has already been talked about in terms of supplying power to charge nationwide electric vehicle use. Any additional cabling required could be accommodated in the now redundant gas pipe network.

Domestically, we could switch from gas-fuelled boilers to electric heat exchangers, in principle like electric showers. Or we could swap the water-carrying radiators for electric panel heaters, with the additional cabling carried again in the now redundant water pipes.

Only the hydrogen generation is new technology, the rest is existing engineering, available now. Why not cut out the warm words and get on with it.

Bernard Cudd

Future generations won’t look kindly upon us

The Committee on Climate Change has set out its target year for achieving net zero emissions but in which year will the UK government begin to legislate?

Next year is 2020. This number also denotes 20/20 vision. A good time for politicians who can envision a future without action to start giving us some life-saving laws. It would also be a good time for academics to chronicle the country’s current lifestyles, values, attitudes and mores. Future generations of students would study this work and understand the degree to which we had become so misguided and misgoverned.

Geoff Naylor​

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