LIKE your correspondent Alan Jenkins (Letters, January 25, and your columnist Guy Stenhouse ("We should be rioting to stop juries being scrapped - even in rape trials", The Herald, January 27), I am concerned over current plans to pilot juryless rape trials.

The complex and sometimes labyrinthine legal process is there to protect the individual from harm by the state. Accordingly, it is a fundamental principle of our justice system that it is better that a hundred people are wrongly acquitted than one person wrongly convicted.

Rape is clearly a horrific crime and has serious consequences for the convicted perpetrator as well as the victim who will have to live with the consequences of rape for the rest of her life.

It is for this reason that we must adhere to the rule of law and prosecute and convict on the best evidence available. In the case of rape this is clearly difficult given the obvious challenge in obtaining corroboration. For this reason, the conviction rate for rape is regarded as "too” low but if the removal of the jury is to “get the numbers up” we have departed far from the rule of law and principles of natural justice.

A single judge, like an individual juror, may subconsciously harbour his or her own prejudices based on the “myths of rape” and like Mr Stenhouse I would contend that the judgement of 15 of our peers is still the best way to determine guilt or innocence. As he rightly points out, jurors take their roles seriously and bring a broad range of life experience to bear on the issue.

I acknowledge that this is a sensitive issue, but we can see the devastating human consequences of wrongful conviction and miscarriage of justice in the current Post Office scandal.

Keith Swinley, Ayr.

Read more: Glasgow's new model for Advanced Highers will increase opportunities

Breaking down social barriers

WHILST times are tough for many sectors of the economy, there remain real reasons for optimism within higher education.

It’s true the sector is seeing cuts to its budget due to pressure on public funding. These will have significant impacts, not just on the thousands of individual lives universities transform, but on the wider Scottish economy and society.

We should remember that for every 1,000 graduates, the Scottish Government gains £22.4 million in additional income tax contributions, while for every £1m of public funds invested in university research, there is an economic return of £8.1m.

Universities benefit society in many ways, and there is great variety within the sector, bringing different perspectives, skills, experience and strengths to the challenges we face.

Universities are constantly changing to reflect the needs of the communities we serve. We played a major role in the country’s Covid-19 response and will help address future challenges, from guiding AI and tackling climate change, to reducing inequality and ensuring we have the health professionals we need for tomorrow.

We play a vital role in helping create the society we want to live in and can break down social barriers. At Glasgow Caledonian, 22% of our Scottish full-time, first degree entrants were drawn from the country's 20% most-disadvantaged backgrounds. An independent economic impact report highlighted that Glasgow Caledonian is a valuable asset to Glasgow, not only bringing employment opportunities, but working to address the deep-rooted economic, social and health inequalities in the city.

Widening access to higher education isn’t enough: it must be balanced with increased success. Glasgow Caledonian has the highest proportion of undergraduate level graduates in highly skilled occupations (83%) compared to other Scottish modern universities, with 91% of our students in employment or further study within 15months of graduating.

In Sir Peter Scott’s recent article ("England not the uni fees solution", The Herald, January 24), he suggested that universities like Glasgow Caledonian and others are "facing recruitment shortfalls and ballooning deficits". Whilst this may be the case for some, it is certainly not for us.

In fact, data published by UCAS this month showed that Glasgow Caledonian is the leading university in Scotland for Scottish undergraduate student recruitment. We also had an increased intake of nursing students, despite wider recruitment challenges in the sector.

Where universities such as ours can clearly demonstrate their many social and economic benefits, such as delivering widening access and improving public health, they are in a strong position to grow. We have the potential and ambition to drive change quickly and meaningfully, bringing about healthier lives and creating a more inclusive, equal society in Scotland.

Professor Steve Decent, Principal & Vice-Chancellor, Glasgow Caledonian University.

The Herald: Students graduating from Glasgow Caledonian UniversityStudents graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University (Image: Newsquest)

Taken for a ride

CANCELLATION of trains by ScotRail meant that I went through the form-filling process to gain a refund on unused tickets.

A representative of ScotRail customer relations emails me the welcome news that the refund is to go ahead: but then adds the purple prose that “due to unexpectedly high volumes of business”, it will take up to 14 days to refund me.

This is flannel, and ScotRail knows it. When I buy a ticket, no matter how busy ScotRail is, the money is instantly deducted from my account.

But how strange: when the reverse applies, it takes 14 days.

That’s 14 days in which ScotRail has use of my and other passengers’ money. It’s a good wheeze, isn’t it?

Gordon Casely, Crathes.

Read more: History shows nuclear energy is dangerous. Scotland is right to say no

Such sweet memories

READING Charlie Allan's obituary (The Herald, January 27) brought back a very special memory for me.

Charlie was invited to be our special guest at Ochiltree Farmers' Society's 150th Cattle Show in 1997. Needless to say, he was a wonderful addition to this event and made the day really special for all concerned. Charlie greatly appreciated the hospitality which was available for the celebrity, judges and press reporters. I had baked Bride's Slice and he had enjoyed it so much that he wondered if he could take 20 slices home with him in Jaggy (his famous Jaguar motor car) so that he could enjoy a slice every 10 miles on his 200-mile journey back to Aberdeenshire.

I hope he enjoyed the sweet treat on his return trip. He more than deserved it.

Mrs Isabell Montgomerie, Ochiltree.

Rabbie who?

ANOTHER Burns night is over. This reminded me of the story concerning a gentleman returning home very late, seven sheets to the wind, to be greeted by his better half with: "Well, did you enjoy your Burns supper then?"

"It was one of the best ever," was the reply.

"And what were they saying about Rabbie the night?"

"Rabbie? His name was never mentioned."

Bill Brown, Dumfries.