IT is disappointing that Alison Rowat considers unwarranted routine surveillance of electronic communications to be part of an unspoken contract between governments and citizens ("A thin line between hero and zero for whistleblowers", The Herald, July 5).

The notion runs counter to Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which declares that "no-one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence".

Many people already feared the extent of secret surveillance on ordinary citizens before confirmation from recent revelations, but that does not justify the act. It is naive to assume that surveillance without judicial oversight is always undertaken in the interests of the public rather than for the political benefit of official agencies.

As we learn more about Metropolitan Police interference with the Lawrence family, friends and campaigners, including spying on meetings with lawyers and attempting dig up dirt for smears in a misguided attempt at reputational management, it becomes ever clearer that there must be transparency in the rules governing surveillance; rules which must be enforced and overseen by the courts.

Dr Geraint Bevan,

3e Grovepark Gardens, Glasgow.