Even without the revelation that David Cameron reportedly betrayed his Scottish ancestry by meeting Sony representatives with a view to delaying the launch of the Outlander series in the UK until after the referendum on Scottish independence, one would surely be naïve to presume that the British establishment does not influence political reporting at the BBC with the objective of undermining legitimate arguments in favour of self-determination for Scotland (Outlander: the ultimate catch-up, Culture, September 17).

While the local agents of misinformation at Reporting Scotland incessantly express shortcomings of the Scottish NHS, often outside of the context of problems throughout the UK except on the odd occasion when those problems seem relatively less significant, BBC reporters are dispatched to Myanmar and Bangladesh to focus foreign affairs interest on those countries rather than on Saudi Arabia and Yemen where the human tragedy in which the UK Government is complicit has already resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent men, women and children.

Instead of constantly denigrating the Scottish Government or distracting from British arms sales to foreign governments, the BBC would serve the Scottish public better by committing more of its supposedly limited resources to objectively revealing efforts to hinder governmental transparency and undermine genuine democracy, such as those behind the burying of the McCrone Report, so that future decisions can be better informed and less influenced by fake news or by subjective opinions slanted in favour of maintaining the constitutional status quo.

Stan Grodynski


My frustration with Anglo-centric media causes me to rage at the almost incessant coverage of Theresa May, Brexit clowns and Trump to the detriment of wider world affairs.

Peter Swindon’s article draws attention to the UK’s £3.8 billion arms sales to Saudi Arabia (The twisted logic of war: UK donates millions in aid to Yemen, while selling Saudis billions in arms, News, September 17). Meanwhile Mrs May is telling the UN to spend wisely the UK’s £90 million contribution to that vital peacekeeping association.

Reporting of the Rohingya near genocide rapidly disappears as Boris grabs the headlines. Perhaps Mr Johnson could arrange for our new aircraft carrier to hurry to Bangladesh laden with supplies and offering clean dry accommodation. He would earn his headlines then.

The UN Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons has been totally unreported except for your paper. Thank you for that.

Sandra Phelps



YOUR essay on the decline of merlin falcons on the Lammermuir Hills grouse moors drew on data from our peer-reviewed article published in British Birds (Shooting estates ban scientists from probing bird declines, News, September 24). The Lammermuirs Moorland Group (LMG) dismissed our work as unscientific and misrepresented what we wrote. Far from claiming there was “no evidential link” between modern moorland management and the declines we found in many other bird species besides merlins, we drew attention to the detrimental effects of intensified “muirburn” and the indiscriminate use of traps. 
A recent study in England may have found that “80 per cent of merlins were on grouse moors”, leading the LMG to assert that “grouse moor management, overall, helps provide a suitable nesting environment for these birds”. But the most recent report on Birds Of Conservation Concern placed merlins on the red list, indicating a species in acute decline. 
When the LMG addressed the manner in which our 30-year study was abruptly halted after the withdrawal of permission to drive our 4x4 vehicles on estate tracks, it insinuated we published our findings in a fit of pique. This is laughable. As we grew older – when our study ended the youngest of us was 65 – the ability to drive along these tracks was increasingly appreciated, as was gamekeepers’ help in locating merlin territories, and we were happy to express our gratitude in print. The LMG’s reference to our “privileged vehicular access” is especially egregious, coming from a consortium that enjoys spectacular benefits. Receiving an annual public subsidy of £54 per hectare of moorland in support of a lucrative hobby which 
despoils a rare and fragile habitat: now that is real privilege.  
Prof Andrew Barker, Prof Ian Poxton, University of Edinburgh 
Alan Heavisides, Edinburgh


WITH regret I read of Hardeep Singh Kohli’s unfortunate experience at the Nairn Book & Arts Festival (In a way I’m glad that bampot heckled me, Comment, September 24). However, I was not surprised. Urbanity is extremely elusive in the provinces, and nowhere more so than literary functions. My guess is the culprit is an Ian Rankin fan. 
Years ago, in an absurdly pretentious bar hereabouts, a renowned local aesthete was asked what he thought of Hieronymus Bosch. “Marvellous,” came the reply, “quite, quite marvellous. I’ve got all their CDs.”
Longer ago at a literary evening in Inverness, presented by three giants of the genre, a famous Scottish writer read a short story. It documented the successful comedic adventures of a Highland community in repelling an English incomer who earnestly tried to integrate with it. At the Q&A at the end, I asked, while I found the piece funny, whether there was an odious interpretation to it. My query almost got me lynched for desecrating the serenity of the collective. “Things have changed”, as Mr Kohli says, but I think we can be grateful Frankie Boyle wasn’t present when the insult occurred, as he is famously hard on hecklers and things could have turned ugly.
Archie Beaton 


I WAS enjoying Iain Macwhirter’s article on Catalonia until I came across this howler: “Catalonia unlike Scotland has its own language and distinct culture which dates back 1,000 years” (Spain should have learned from indyref, Comment, September 24). The Mither Tongue, ancient language of Scots, is as different from English as Dutch from German, Portuguese from Spanish or Norwegian from Danish. By most accepted criteria Scots is spoken by over a million people in this country, is recognised by the EU as distinct and is now being taught in schools after years of neglect.
As for “distinct culture”, I refer Mr Macwhirter to the Battle of Dunnichen (685 AD) and its significance in the emergence of an identifiable country and culture here. Prof Tom Devine said “Scotland was never an assimilated nation”.
John Quinn

DOESN’T Iain Macwhirter know that Unesco lists Scots and Scots Gaelic as distinctive languages? Or that the distinctive Scottish identity was recognised by the Catholic Church more than 1,000 years ago when the Celtic Church was in dispute with them over doctrine and ritual, and by the Romans 2,000 years ago, who distinguished clearly between Caledonia and Britannia?
James Duncan, Edinburgh


RICHARD Leonard is right (Labour leadership contest’s Leonard: ‘I want to be Scotland’s first English First Minister ... but I’m no Corbynista”, Interview, September 24). 
Being English will not harm his Scottish Labour Party leadership bid. His determination to stop the people of his adopted country from having the final say on Brexit, at a time when support for “Remain” is running at 65 per cent, is what will do for him.
John V Lloyd