Scotland on Sunday letters: Injustice will linger

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IN HER article “Bin lorry inquiry reveals a fatally flawed system” (Insight, 23 August) Dani Garavelli speaks truthfully of a flawed system that is going to leave relatives of the deceased and the injured parties with a sense of injustice.

What is difficult to understand is the seeming haste to hold and conclude the inquiry. Against whose timetable? No answers have been forthcoming on that at all.

Further, was the Crown in possession of all the evidence revealed to the court when the decision not to prosecute the driver was made? This decision was apparently made in the hope that it would give him the opportunity to answer questions clearly at the inquiry. This was somewhat hopeful.

Assuming the Crown was in possession of all the facts of the case when they made that decision – and that is a moot point – then surely they must have realised that the likelihood of an attempt to bring a private prosecution was at least a possibility, even if a remote one.

There will also be claims for damages arising from the relatives of the deceased and the injured parties and such possible further civil proceedings may well have been an inhibiting factor in what the driver may have been able to say. So was there a real chance that he would answer openly all questions put to him? I doubt it.

There has been some muddled thinking throughout this process and it will be most interesting to see what the sheriff has to say in his report in the light of the evidence presented to him. In the meantime, it is a sad fact that this inquiry has left the relatives with significant unanswered questions instead of bringing them towards the possibility of the closure they seek and indeed deserve.

Richard Prentice, Lewiston, Inverness-shire

Revisit opt-out for transplants

TOMORROW sees the start of National Transplant Week and the BMA is encouraging people to make time this week to talk about organ donation with their friends and family so that their wishes are known, and most importantly, we are urging everyone to register their wishes on the organ donor register so that they can give the most valuable gift of all, the gift of life.

The BMA has long believed that Scotland should move to a soft opt-out system, where organ donation is the norm, unless an individual chooses to opt out during their lifetime, or relatives are aware that he or she objected. If properly implemented, with adequate resources and staff, and backed up by a high-profile publicity campaign, an opt-out system could save or transform many lives. With over 530 people on the transplant waiting list in Scotland, it is essential that we do more to try to increase the number of organs available for transplant each year.

Dr Sue Robertson, BMA Scottish Council, Edinburgh

Red herring in Lancashire water

I GUESS it’s easy to be gung-ho about the issues of fracking and the on-going contaminated water supply problem in Lancashire when you live in Linlithgow, like Clark Cross (Letters, 23 August). However, surely the plight of some 300,000 households and businesses which have not had clean, safe water for many weeks is not something to be used as a political football against those who have stood against Cuadrilla’s attempts to impose fracking in the midst of their community.

Let’s be clear, no-one has correlated Cuadrilla’s test drilling with the current water problem except Clark Cross, somewhat spuriously, in his letter. There is a lesson, however, that can be taken from the red herring that Clark throws out. Private sector energy companies like Cuadrilla and United Utilities need to be rigorously regulated and subject to local democracy. Given Cuadrilla’s threats to override Lancashire County Council’s decision against fracking, and United Utilities’ continued failure to communicate how cryptosporidium contaminated the county water supply and give some timescale for its eradication, perhaps it is time to place those critical services under public ownership, control and accountability, and put the common good and transparency before private interest and profit.

Glenn Stephen, Preston

Migrant crisis of our own making

TURNING away from responsibility seems to be the British response to the migrant crisis. That the effusion of refugees just happens to be incidental to the military interventions of the so-called “international community” in various Middle East countries is hardly credible. From their no-fly zone destruction of Muammar Gaddafi’s government in Libya, the unauthorised invasion of Iraq, support for the anti-Assad government forces in Syria, to the ongoing Cold War estrangement of Russia, the British and their Nato allies can be seen as directly responsible for the migrant crisis. People do not readily leave their homelands unless they have desperate reason, especially in the amount of migration occurring at present.

Yet as receiving countries of this migration, the most militarily active members of the “international community” seem to be the least accommodating. Greece, Hungary, Italy, Austria, Macedonia, Germany and Serbia are the countries having the problem of trying to cope with the crisis. Something of the same applies in the Cold War context re sanctions against Russia. The US has been a principal promoter of the sanctions but it is countries closer to Russia who have taken the punishing effects of the resultant downturn in trade.

However much certain countries might try to efface responsibility for the migrant crisis from the well-foreseen consequences of their foreign policies, and however servile some media might be in assisting them, there are plenty of fingers pointed towards the “international community”, of which Britain is a notable member.

Ian Johnstone, Peterhead

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