THE Scottish Government wants to run an experiment where the verdict in a rape trial is decided by a single judge. They argue that, under the current system of jury trials, many jury members bring with them myths and misconceptions about rape: that it always involves violence or the threat of it; that the victim would scream and fight back; that the victim would report the matter to the police immediately afterwards.

That may be true, but there are ways of addressing the problem without denying those accused of this heinous crime their right to a fair trial in front of a jury of their fellow citizens. Could jurors in rape cases be shown an educational video before the trial started, in which the misconceptions are addressed?

Guidance to jurors isn’t exactly a new concept. I remember the first time I was a juror, and the judge gave us some pertinent guidance before the trial started. He asked us to keep an open mind throughout, as it’s easy to make up your mind when you’ve heard only one side of the story. And he warned us that the demeanour of a witness might be no guide to the veracity of their evidence: the glib and confident individual might be a practised liar; the hesitant and erratic witness might be overwhelmed by the occasion but trying their best to tell the truth.

It’s important that rape victims see justice done, but it’s also important that we don’t see miscarriages of justice where innocent people spend years behind bars, with their later lives destroyed. The Scottish Government’s proposal is premature. Ending jury trials for rape cases is surely the last possible remedy to reach for and they should look at other solutions first.

Doug Maughan, Dunblane.

Torness has paid its way

AS Torness nuclear power station's acting Station Director, I felt moved to write in response to Vicky Allan's recent article "What a visit to Torness taught me about the nuclear power debate", The Herald, May 9). I am delighted Ms Allan chose to spend part of her bank holiday weekend visiting our power station and I would encourage anyone who is interested in finding out more about what we do to book their own free tour; it's a great way to spend a couple of hours.

I was interested to read the assertion that "one thing we can see from Torness is that nuclear doesn't always, like many projects, deliver its promise. Here we have a project which, in 1989, was acknowledged by the Scottish Office to be, in terms of costs, a mistake." Referencing in this way a 34-year old conclusion, made when the station had been operating for barely a year, discounts the incredible performance it has since recorded.

The station is now in its 35th year of generation and, over its lifetime, has safely produced more than 282TWh of zero-carbon electricity, enough to power every home in Scotland for 29 years. That electricity has avoided, when compared to the same amount of gas generation, releasing almost 100m tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. That is like taking all the UK's licensed vehicles off the roads for a year, and then some. In fact, an analysis of the full life cycle of the station, from construction to decommissioning, shows its carbon footprint to be comparable to that of wind.

Generation at Torness was meant to have ended in March this year, but continued investment in the station means it is expected to keep operating until March 2028, meaning years' more zero-carbon electricity feeding into the grid. And our power is affordable. In 2022, the average realised prices for the UK's nuclear fleet were well under half of the average day-ahead wholesale prices during the year. In economic terms, the station is one of the largest employers in East Lothian, providing high quality, well-paid employment for around 500 staff and 250 permanent contractors and contributing around £45m per year to the local economy. Torness has more than proven its value since generation started in 1988.

If the recent energy crisis has shown one thing, it is that we need a diverse mix of low-carbon sources, including nuclear, to help ensure energy security and decarbonise the system. EDF recognises and respects the Scottish Government's position on nuclear in Scotland and is focusing its nuclear development on sites in England, but it is still important to recognise the vital role nuclear, and the people who work in the industry, have played in decarbonising electricity generation in Scotland.

Jamie McKenzie, acting Station Director, Torness Power Station, Dunbar.

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Parks proposal is unworkable

LIKE Thelma Edwards (Letters, May 18) I was deeply disturbed by Kerry Hudson’s suggestion that there should be women-only times in parks (“We should have women-only times in Scotland’s parks”, The Herald, May 17). As Mrs Edwards says, it will prevent decent men like grandfathers taking their children to parks. It would also reduce the time available for working parents to go to the park together as a family.

The main thing that struck me though was that this seemed to be an idea that might have been dreamed up by the Taliban in Afghanistan or Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia. I immediately thought of apartheid and that this was simply a form of gender apartheid. Gender self-recognition opens another can of worms.

On a purely practical level it would simply be unworkable as there are not the resources to police it. Who might police it? The police? Newly-created park wardens? What powers would they have? Could cash-strapped councils afford them?

I think we can all rest easy. It’s a non-starter.

David Clark, Tarbolton.

Congregations need to act

RE the Church of Scotland: 121 George Street and the presbyteries seem now to be only interested in money and not people; perhaps it would be an idea for all members and congregations affected by the nonsense presently emanating from them to withhold funding immediately and demand a rethink.

James Tait, Tranent.

Hands-free and mobile

DESPITE the current publicity and concern over autonomous buses, taxis and cars (Letters, May 17), driverless transport is not new.

I am sure I was not the only pioneer to career downhill on a trusty Hercules or other velocipede with arms widespread or bravely folded across my chest in the 1940s.

Fortunately, more due to luck than skill, it remained “Look, no hands” and never “Look, no teeth”.

R Russell Smith, Largs.