The Spectator

Letters | 18 October 2008

Spectator readers respond to recent articles

Our story

Sir: Your political editor writes (‘Peter v. George is the key battle’, 11 October) that Peter Mandelson’s conversation on Corfu where he ‘dripped pure poison’ about Gordon Brown was leaked to the press within hours and only later became front-page news. In fact only one paper broke the story initially, the Sunday Times. This is an interesting example of what is known in the trade as the Watergate defence. Everyone ‘knew’ American presidents authorised bugging so Woodward and Bernstein’s stories were no stories at all. There may be a difference in the scale of the revelations but the same principle applies. A scoop is a scoop.

Martin Ivens
Deputy editor, Sunday Times, London E1

Institutional nonsense

Sir: Charles Moore warns against the danger that a new inquiry into police racism by the Metropolitan Police Authority might ‘feed the monster’ of racist lobbying (The Spectator’s Notes, 11 October). He reminds us of the ‘unfairness’ of the Macpherson Report. ‘Unfair’ is an understatement.

For all its uncritical reception, and its profound and mainly pernicious impact on policing, the Macpherson Report is blatantly a fatally flawed document.

Macpherson states plainly, right at the beginning of his report, that he had been un-able to find any evidence of police racism. On personal racism, Macpherson said that his inquiry had ‘not heard evidence of overt racism or discrimination’ (para. 6.3, p. 20). On institutional racism (in the ordinary meaning of ‘institutional’) Macpherson wrote that it was ‘vital to stress that neither academic debate nor the evidence presented to us leads us to say or conclude that an accusation that institutional racism exists in the Met implies that the policies of the Met are racist. No such evidence is before us. In fact the opposite is true’ (para 6.24,

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