My view is that the inquiry by Lord Justice Leveson has been absolutely necessary in the public interest, because it has lifted the lid off many dubious practices which otherwise would have been buried by others intent on protecting vested interests (Chris Blackhurst: Letter from the Editor, 8 September).
Every newspaper editor having received a copy of the 116-pages letter from Lord Justice Leveson, setting out the likely criticism he will make of the newspaper industry when he presents his report, with comments aimed at the entire press, will have to sit up and take notice. Some may feel they have been unfairly criticised – “What, me guv?” – but for how long has the boot been on the other foot as far as the public are concerned. What the press may claim is always done in the public interest may often be tilted in the interest of selling newspapers,
While I respect and agree with your view that “the positive power of the press must be recognised, too”, and I believe that The Independent has done much to uphold that ethos over the years, we are here dealing with the damage that “storyline journalism” can do when the truth becomes meaningless if it interferes with the storyline designed to sell newspapers.
I applaud your statements recently about the Leveson inquiry, which I believe was totally unnecessary, and a threat to free speech. I do not accept the right of a judge to arbitrate on press regulation.
The problem of phone hacking was already being dealt with by the criminal law. I believe that any attempt to introduce statutory regulation should be resisted. It is our responsibilty as citizens to defend press freedom.
Heathrow: take the train instead
You make several suggestions instead of building a third runway at Heathrow (leading article, 29 August) but do not mention the train option.
There has been a debate about whether the proposed HS2 train line should go via Heathrow. I think the solution to Heathrow is to abandon internal flights from places such as Manchester and make that a train journey via HS2.
Doing that releases capacity at the airport and is also an environmentally better option especially if the HS2 route were amended to follow the M40 rather than create a new line across farmland.
Harrogate, North Yorkshire
Simon Calder often reminds us that air travel is probably the safest form of transport. especially in the West. He is right. But planes can and do crash.
Aircraft always land into the wind and the prevailing wind in London is westerly. After the Second World War, Heathrow evolved but no one would plan an airport with its primary approaches across major centres of population. Whatever the present risk might be, it is folly to consider adding to that risk by building a third runway.
Schools for Lawyers
Mr Osborne may be floundering, but his colleague Gove is riding to save him with a secret job-creation scheme.
Some years ago, I attended or was in touch with school boards in three or four US states. Every board employed a negotiator to help it determine what salaries to pay its teachers, and at every meeting almost every agenda item led someone to ask the attendant lawyer “What will the judge say?”
This at a time when the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy and later the Audit Commission published annual tables showing what percentage of their education budgets each authority was spending on administration and cities such as Leeds and Sheffield, and counties including the North Riding, prided themselves on having the lowest costs in the country.
When Mr Gove’s dream is realised, and every one of England’s 25,000 schools is either a little free school or an academy, and all are free to determine their own salary scales, will anyone know how many accountants and how many lawyers they are paying, or how much of the “education” budget is going on “administration”?
No restriction on Christian symbols
Christina Patterson (5 September) seems to have fallen for the propaganda that there is some kind of “ban” on the wearing of crosses and crucifixes in the workplace. There is no such restriction.
Occasionally an employer will require staff to desist from wearing jewellery of any kind (even crosses) for reasons of health and safety or to enforce a strict uniform policy. Most staff will comply with such restrictions, but these two Christians have decided not to, and have misleadingly presented their obduracy as an attack on their religious faith.
It is very frustrating that the impression has been created by these cases that there are restrictions on religious liberty in Britain, when in fact it has a wonderful record on religious freedom.
What is really being sought in these legal challenges is not religious freedom, but religious privilege.
President, National Secular Society
I was wondering if Great Britain has ever organised so large and so successful an operation as it did in London this summer. Would it be totally inappropriate to compare it to Operation Overlord, with elements of Dunkirk? I am thinking of the secrecy involved, the volunteering. the infrastructure, the international co-operation and the relief that the whole thing was pulled off.
No one had to lose their lives this summer. Thousands were entertained and thrilled and inspired. I feel that the ancient Greeks would have approved; we were all brought together in peace and joy.
Sparsholt Down, Oxfordshire
I know it’s not British, but could we admit that the Queen’s Jubilee, the Olympics and the Paralympics have been a resounding success, and that there’s more to life than economic growth?
It is going to be a bad winter this year. How do I know? Because I have just received my summer gas bill from EDF who inform me that they have calculated that my usage for the next 12 months is expected to be 14,940 kWh. Alongside that estimate is the figure for my usage over the last 12 months: 8,984 kWh. SIt looks as though the sea that I can see from my window is likely to freeze over this coming winter!
St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex
How depressing that on the day that scientists report that the summer Arctic icecap has shrunk to its smallest size on record, with clear evidence that man-made pollutants are a major contributor to global climate change, consumer groups are once again screaming about the price of fuel at the pumps. When will we realise that higher prices drive technological change towards alternatives that are less polluting?
Dr Chris Burgess
Glan Conwy, North Wales
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