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Letters: The absurd trial of a former PM who broke his own senseless rules

A protester demonstrates against former Prime Minister Boris Johnson outside the Houses of Parliament - Andy Rain/EPA/Shutterstock
A protester demonstrates against former Prime Minister Boris Johnson outside the Houses of Parliament - Andy Rain/EPA/Shutterstock

SIR – Boris Johnson knew that the rules we were being asked to follow were politically motivated and often not based on scientific advice. We know this from the WhatsApp messages published in the Lockdown Files.

Is it therefore surprising that he and others in Downing Street found it difficult to work out which rules they were meant to follow, and which were there only to “frighten the pants off everyone”, as Matt Hancock, then the health secretary, put it?

We now have the ridiculous waste of time and money by the Privileges Committee trying to work out not whether we were misled about the need for the rules in the first place, but whether the prime minister at the time – famously not a man for details – was familiar enough with them to know if they were being followed or not.

Julian Gall
Godalming, Surrey


SIR – Which is a worse outcome for Boris? If found guilty of purposefully misleading Parliament, he’s dishonest – no surprises there. If found not guilty, he’s shown to be incapable of making even the most basic decisions without relying on others.

Either way, they are hardly the traits required of a nation’s political leader.

Dr David Slawson
Nairn


SIR – If I were stopped for speeding and declined to pay a fixed-penalty notice, so went to court, would the magistrate accept my plea that, while I admitted I was speeding, I was not doing so knowingly or recklessly?

Charles Duncan
Truro, Cornwall


SIR – Isn’t Boris reckless in everything he does? Isn’t it because he’s reckless that he can casually say things that aren’t true and not be aware of it?

Jonathan Morse
London SE25


SIR – I have listened with dismay to how some in the media and MPs have been salivating at the prospect of Boris Johnson being found guilty.

The liberal elite are terrified of him and the pro-EU brigade will never forgive him. Boris has been under attack by these groups for years and even though they succeeded – with the help of some idiotic Tory politicians – in making him resign as PM, they are now kicking him while he is down.

Boris has always championed Britain and her people, and it is about time that we gave him some loyalty and support. He is a man of vision – no one is perfect.

Jackie Perkins
Whitstable, Kent

SIR – What was Boris supposed to do? Every time he entered No 10, did he check each room to make sure no one was having a party? Let’s face it, every room Boris enters becomes a party, such is the effect of his personality.

Maybe we’ll vote in Sir Keir Starmer because that’s the last thing that happens around him.

Brian Milton
London E2


A solution for Cyprus

SIR – As we approach the 25th anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, in which the British prime minister of the day played such a pivotal role, I would urge his present-day successor to show a similar level of commitment to ending the political stalemate in Cyprus, which has lasted for almost half a century.

To my mind, the first step should be for the British Government – as one of three guarantors for the island – to recognise the right of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) to exist. Ersin Tatar, the TRNC president, has been forward-thinking by proposing a two-state solution in which the two parts of Cyprus would have equal sovereign status.

One of the many immediate benefits of ending the dispute would be to enable about 300,000 Turkish Cypriots residing in Britain to seek direct flights to their country, ensuring that both Greek and Turkish Cypriots are treated in a balanced way.

A much-heralded post-Brexit benefit was for Britain to have greater flexibility to develop and implement its own foreign policy. Taking the lead in bringing stability to Cyprus offers a gilt-edged opportunity to do just that.

Lord Rogan
Former Chairman and President
Ulster Unionist Party
London SW1


Cracking the code

SIR – We own a narrowboat called Endeavour, with “–– ––– .–. ... .” painted alongside the name. I always have a chocolate bar at the ready for anyone we meet who notices and translates it without resorting to the internet.

In the eight years we’ve owned the boat only four people have managed it, one of whom was a gentleman we moored next to in the Stratford-upon-Avon basin. He, like Susan Kunc’s late husband (Letters March 20), had been taught Latin by the Morse author Colin Dexter, who had also instilled in him a love of cryptic crosswords. It was, however, his time in the Scouts, rather than his classical education, that provided him with his chocolate-winning decryption skills.

Anne Fox-Smythe
Horsham, West Sussex


SIR – I disagree with Justin Tahany (Letters, March 15), who thinks Endeavour is superior to Maigret (the Rupert Davies series). It is full of over-egged plots, to say nothing of the annoying staccato stabbing of the music – whereas Maigret’s plaintive accordion tune echoes in your mind.

Hugh Bebb
Sunbury-on-Thames, Surrey


Reforming the Met

SIR – I joined the Metropolitan Police (Letters, March 22) in 1970 and served for more than 27 years, 25 as a detective officer. I saw misogynistic, homophobic and racist officers (of both sexes) during my service, but they were few in number and became fewer still as society changed and the Met evolved. None of those abhorrent characteristics was institutionally condoned. However, substantial change is long overdue.

When the Met ceased to be a “force” and became a “service” there was a change for the worse. Selection went from appointment boards to online applications, aimed at achieving a target quotas regardless of quality.

Recognising that holding the warrant of a police officer is a privilege that requires a robust and effective selection and vetting process, and a discipline structure directly attuned to organisational values, is critical. A warrant review should be held at least every three years.

The investigation of serious crimes, like sexual offences, and the careful presentation of cases to the Crown Prosecution Service, require highly-trained, professional career detectives operating within a well-resourced and dedicated department. The quality of investigations has been seriously damaged by the abolition of the Criminal Investigation Department, leaving the leadership of detectives to inexpert uniform managers. Restoring determination and professionalism will deliver investigative success.

While counter-terrorism policing should remain integral to the Met, protecting members of the Royal family and politicians requires a different skill set – including the carrying of arms – and is a massive drain on the Met’s resources. The US Secret Service provides the template for an entirely different protection force and the Met should be relieved of this contentious burden.

I remain proud to have served.

Roy Ramm
Former Commander, Specialist Operations
Great Dunmow, Essex


Railway rip-off

SIR – A disabled friend asked me to arrange a train journey from Bedford, where she lives, to visit her sister in Stockton-on-Tees. On the National Rail website I could see that even with her disabled rail pass, which cost £20, the cheapest return fare from Bedford would be at least £125, and journeys involved changing trains and a walk.

The return journey by car from Bedford to Stockton-on-Tees is 402 miles. For me to drive her there and back, then repeat the journey to collect her, would cost about £100 in fuel.

How have we allowed what we are told is the most fuel-efficient form of transport to cost so much? No wonder our cost of living and carbon emissions remain stubbornly high, when our public services are run for the benefit of providers rather than consumers.

Geoff Taylor
Bedford


Blissful blend

SIR – I don’t know whether excitement or love was involved in the manufacture of my tea (Letters, March 22), but the enjoyment of my evening cuppa is enhanced by the knowledge that it is a “gentle, purposeful blend”.

Janet Dillon
Chesterfield, Derbyshire


SIR – David Askew (Letters, March 22) comments on his “lovingly created” breakfast cereal. Our local supermarket sells eggs that are “laid with love”. How does it know?

Armorel Young
Nottingham


Grappling with a naturalist’s links to slavery

Posing for posterity: John James Audubon in 1826, by the Scottish artist John Syme - Alamy
Posing for posterity: John James Audubon in 1826, by the Scottish artist John Syme - Alamy

SIR – The latest historical figure to be cancelled because of his links to slavery is the Franco-American artist, ornithologist and naturalist John James Audubon (1785-1851), today best known as the author of The Birds of America, one of the world’s most expensive printed books. Several US state Audubon societies are to be renamed.

I have been a member of Audubon Florida for more than 30 years, and care little for the society in which he lived, warts and all. I appreciate the good he did by drawing people’s attention to the importance of preserving our natural world, and the benefits his philosophy bestows upon our increasingly fragile planet even today, centuries after his death.

Martin Henry
Good Easter, Essex


The pros and cons of an animal-friendly garden

SIR – I agree with Louise Meadows (Letters, March 21) regarding Bunny Guinness’s article on how to tackle “garden pests” (Weekend, March 18).

This is the second time I have read a piece by Ms Guinness about excluding visitors from the natural world. Her articles should perhaps have been called: “How to rid your garden of wildlife.”

Surely she should be working alongside nature, not killing or excluding it. The squirrels, badgers, foxes, rabbits, mice and other wildlife I see give much pleasure to my father, myself and other residents, and do not prevent the gardens being both beautiful and productive.

Mandy Gaved
Hastings, East Sussex


SIR – This time last year we had a wonderful flowerbed that consisted of yellow daffodils and blue grape hyacinths – we called it our Ukrainian garden.

This year, it has been completely ruined by muntjac deer – they have eaten the all hyacinth flowers and trampled over the daffodils.

Anthony Butler
Dersingham, Norfolk


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