DOUG Maughan (Letters, May 18) argues that educating juries in rape trials rather than removing them would reduce the so-called "rape myths". This is a legitimate response to Angela Constance’s claim that there is "overwhelming evidence" that such myths influence jury verdicts.

The fundamental problem with Ms Constance’s stance is that juries in rape trials are legally forbidden from discussing how they reached their verdict. The "evidence" which Ms Constance used to justify her strategy was accumulated from mock jury trials. These are based on artificial scenarios presented outwith the reality of a formal court setting. By definition this would therefore exclude the interrogation of live witnesses rather than actors. The problem with that is that anything not based on reality can itself be described as "mythical".

One exception to the jury non-interrogation rule was the Thomas Report published earlier this year when permission was granted to Professor Thomas and her team at UCL to interview real jurors. She found that a number of assumptions regarding rape myths were unfounded and concluded: “What is clear from this analysis is that juries convict defendants of rape more often than they acquit them, and the jury rape conviction rate is increasing alongside an increase in prosecutions. These are findings that are not consistent with a widespread belief amongst serving jurors in false assumptions about rape and rape complainants."

Her team also discovered that the rape conviction rate was measured in different ways by different agencies. This produces distorted results. For instance, a serial rapist who is convicted of raping five women will be recorded by the CPS as a single conviction following five reports of rape. This then gives a rape conviction rate of only 20% rather than the actual rate of 100%.

Furthermore, the claim that the 58% conviction rate for rape is lower than for comparable criminal offences was also debunked. She found that GBH and manslaughter had a conviction rate of 48%, attempted murder was at 47%, and threatening to kill at 36%.

For the Scottish Government to use flawed statistics as the basis for making fundamental changes to the law seriously diminishes the legal system rather than enhancing it.

Robert Menzies, Falkirk.

NC500 should not be a cash vehicle

HAVING driven a small section of the NC500 (from Braemore junction to Achmelvich and Lochinver) on Saturday (May 20), I was interested in the two pieces about the route in The Herald on the same day; the news story ("Warnings over ‘suicide’ drivers taking part in NC500 event") and Caroline Wilson’s analysis article ("Scotland’s route 66 has met its aims – but at what cost?"). In the late 1970s and early 1980s, when I lived in the north, I drove the various parts of the NC500 on multiple occasions but never in one journey as is encouraged now.

With regards to the safety aspects, on the short section of narrow road with passing places on which I travelled, in my view there were two obvious instances of excessive speed. Thankfully neither incident resulted in a collision. I also mused how two campervans might get on if they met on some sections of single-track roads; they are discouraged from using those sections but not banned.

I popped into the Tourist Information office in Ullapool, hoping to pick up a free NC500 map as my visitor from Germany (an expat Scot) was interested in the route; a few years ago they were widely available. In discussion with the helpful staff, I then learned that NC500 is now a company which has trademarked and copyrighted it as a brand. No free maps, but lots of t-shirts and similarly branded materials for sale.

I had no idea that the NC500 initiative has now been commercialised in this way, supported by a highly professional website inviting individuals and businesses to become partners to NC500; becoming a partner involved payment of sums between £15 to almost £1,000.

I guess that it was inevitable that this or something similar would happen, but I feel distinctly uneasy that roads built over decades if not centuries from the public purse can be branded in such a way for private gain. Who pays for the deterioration in road quality, which is obvious in a number of places, resulting from the huge increase in traffic volume and weight? I’m guessing it won’t be NC500. Not to mention other necessary infrastructure such as the provision of public toilets.

I am fully aware of the fragility of the economy of the far north and welcome initiatives to support local communities but question if this is the best model, as I interpret it, of public/private sector partnership.

Willie Towers, Alford.

Read more: NC500: Businesses says government 'must get behind' route

Losing some of the sheen

MUCH as I am reluctant to correct Kevin McKenna who, in my view, has an incredibly rich vocabulary on a par with the writings of the late Roy Jenkins, I feel his latest interview ("'In Scotland, there is a knowledge of politics'", The Herald, May 22) invites a correction. As a former Film Minister, I was invited to meet the man who played Tony Blair on release of The Queen. I am certain that his name was Michael Sheen and not Martin as he states.

Sir Tom Clarke, Coatbridge.

Old ways not always the best

IT is invariably delightful to read the contributions from Thelma Edwards, and I confess to chuckling at her personal experience of old-style school discipline (Letters, May 22). Despite her cut and bruise she implies her teacher had a good aim, which is fortunate as I suspect the outcome might have been a little different had the blackboard duster landed a couple of inches higher and hit her in the eye.

Perhaps there's something to be said for current standards of teacher restraint (whether menopausal or not) after all.

David Bruce, Troon.

• THELMA Edwards' supposedly menopausal teacher had a male equivalent, expounded in the old ditty "Oor wee school's a guid wee school, it's made o' bricks and plaster/ The only thing that's wrang wi' it is the baldy- heided master/ He goes to the pub on Saturday, he goes to the kirk on Sunday/ To pray to God to gie him strength, to murder the weans on Monday".

Google tells me that men in their forties suffer from mood swings and irritability, a condition known as the andropause. My andropause has lasted considerably longer than that.

David Miller, Milngavie.