MARK Smith ("Why the Salmond trial could be good for all of us", The Herald, March 26) challenges the privilege of anonymity awarded to the alleged victims of rape and questions the principle that “all victims should be believed and protected”.

On the latter point I would readily agree, as accepting firstly that someone is a victim and secondly that what they say is necessarily true is unfair and denies the alleged criminal a fair hearing. However, on the point of anonymity I am not convinced.

We know that prosecuting rape trials is extremely difficult and that the conviction rate is extremely low, around 40 per cent, and that of the actual number of cases reported to the police only around five per cent result in a conviction. The reason for this is fairly obvious as most rapes and sexual assaults occur behind closed doors with only the victim and their assailant present. This means that the outcome of the trial will come down to the credibility of both the accuser and the accused. It therefore follows that the defence will set out to discredit, by almost any means, the character and probity of the alleged victim. This can appear as though the accuser and not the accused is on trial and is a daunting prospect for most victims, overwhelmingly female.

Secondly, in some quarters and cultures blame is attached to the victims of rape, who are deemed to be somehow guilty of either provocation or of gross negligence on account of their mode of dress or sobriety. It might seem unfair but on balance I would contend that anonymity for victims should be maintained.

Jim Meikle, Killearn.

THE civil service internal investigation into complaints against Alex Salmond and his recent trial raise several serious issues. The internal complaint investigators made elementary mistakes which lead to a successful judicial review which has cost taxpayers at least £1 million, the police interviewed more than 400 persons and made 14 complaints of sexual misconduct. These were backed by the Crown Prosecution Service; all were thrown out by the jury. This has cost many millions in police and court costs.

This case has similarities to the scandal of the "Nick" case in London where the now-jailed fantasist made accusations which led to police raids on the houses of a dying former Home Secretary, an ex-MP and a retired Field Marshal. The police said their policy on sexual assault complaints was to automatically believe the accuser, nothing about prima fascia evidence, effectively saying that the accused is guilty until he or she proves themselves innocent, the opposite of our long-established system of justice that you are innocent until proven guilty. A judge-led enquiry was excoriating about the police’s conduct which had cost more than £3m and then more in civil damages. What happened to the senior police involved? They had either retired or worse, had been promoted.

For fairness and equity it is long overdue that the accused should receive the same unanimity as the accusers. Will any MSP have the courage to propose a change in the law?

There needs to be an independent investigation into this embarrassing fiasco. I would prefer it to be citizen-led and not by a judge. Judges at the end of the day are part of the Establishment they would be investigating. All of the officials involved in the above decisions are highly paid and well pensioned. If ordinary workers are incompetent or commit misconduct they pay a heavy price. This should apply to all involved.

Bob Thomson, Glasgow G41.