Regime change an illegal reason for war

Your correspondent Michael Watts (Letters, October 26) asserts the Government mantra that we invaded and occupied Iraq in order to free the people from Saddam Hussein's tyrannical reign.

Your correspondent Michael Watts (Letters, October 26) asserts the Government mantra that we invaded and occupied Iraq in order to free the people from Saddam Hussein's tyrannical reign.

Has he conveniently forgotten that only weeks before our troops went in, Prime Minister Blair openly stated that Saddam could happily retain power if he fully complied with UN resolutions and handed over his weapons of mass destruction to the weapons inspectors who were present in his country.

Regime change was an illegal reason for invasion and has only been used after it was realised that Saddam had in fact rid himself of his weapons, as Hans Blix and his weapons inspectors were in the process of discovering before President Bush ordered them to leave.

MALCOLM WILD, North Shields

No sympathy from families of dead Iraqis

If Michael Watts thinks that we invaded Iraq to establish democracy there (Letters October 26), then he probably also believes in Tooth Fairies.

The reason we were given for the war was that Saddam Hussein was thought to have "Weapons of Mass Destruction" and when none were found some other reason had to be given, so "Democracy" was plucked out of thin air.

Of course everybody knows the war was about oil, or to be more precise, the control of oil.

And since we have been no more successful at achieving this than we were at finding WMD or bestowing democracy on Iraq - then we should get out before any more of our troops lose their lives.

The only reason why American and British forces are still in Iraq is because George Bush and Tony Blair have yet to find a face-saving way out.

Michael Watts may have sympathy for them, I certainly haven't and nor will the families of the 650,000 Iraqi dead.

JOHN S PEARSON, Belford, Northumberland

WMD given as reason for invasion of Iraq

Your correspondent Michael Watts, ("Fed up with attacks on Blair and Bush"), seems to think that we entered Iraq with three primary objectives.

As I recall we had only one, to prevent Saddam launching the weapons of mass destruction that he possessed against this country and our allies.

Only after the invasion, when no such weapons were found - as many experts, including Dr Kelly predicted - was it necessary for Blair and Bush to seek new "objectives" to justify the war.

If one of these objectives was indeed to remove the leader of another country from power, then this is a breach of international law, which renders the war on Iraq illegal.

J JOHNSTONE, Low Fell, Gateshead

Nissan plant the best of region's economy

Representatives of the Labour Party who are quick to sneer at David Cameron's visit to the Nissan car plant forget the benefits it brings to the people and economy of the City of Sunderland.

With production now topping 300,000 cars a year and a myriad of feeder companies sustaining it, Nissan - opened in 1986 - represents the best of the North-East economy.

Unfortunately, the Labour record on economic development has not been as productive.

As the latest tranche of southern taxpayers' cash reveals, the North-East is far too dependent on government spending and public sector employment.

In fact there are now more state-funded jobs here than in Hungary when behind the Iron Curtain.

All very well until the cash runs out and nowhere near as sustainable as Europe's most efficient car factory.

COUN ROBERT OLIVER, St Chad's Ward, Sunderland.

Only two cities in county of Tyne & Wear

I was under the impression that there were only two cities in the old county of Tyne & Wear, Sunderland and the slightly smaller Newcastle.

I have noticed recently the habit of Newcastle based organisations, including The Journal, of referring to Gateshead as a "twin city" and also, I may add, referring to Baltic, Sage etc as Newcastle attractions.

I see by the letter in today's "Voice of the North" that the Secretary of the Northumbrian Association is also using this term.

I feel that it is only a matter of time before Gateshead is absorbed into the City of Newcastle but it seems very unlikely that it will ever achieve city status itself.

NR TROTTER, Sunderland

Hunting Bill voted for out of pure spite

Like all anti's John Wilson continues to overstate the Hunting Bill.

It certainly is not illegal to hunt foxes with dogs providing you use no more than two and you have guns to dispatch the fox.

Hound packs are used to follow laid trails.

The Bill itself has been shown for what it is as more and more MPs admit they voted for it for pure spite.

Some of course actually believed it to be cruel, though few ever read the Burns Report or transcripts of the Portcullis House hearings.

Snaring, shooting etc can cause far more suffering than hunting, but the RSPCA director general states "there is no absolute proof that wounded foxes suffer".

Foxes are no different to dogs, cats, horses etc.

Anti's are very selective in their tenet on cruelty.

LOL DUNN, Blyth

We are being made to abide by city way of life

In reply to John Wilson's comments on a prosecution under the Hunting Act (Voice of the North, October 24), the gentleman convicted was trying to act within the law by using two dogs to flush a wild mammal to be shot.

He was not engaged in what people would normally associate with hunting with dogs.

Mr Wilson says the Act is a perfectly good, enforceable law, so can he enlighten me as to the following: why is it lawful to use as many dogs as you like to hunt and kill rats and rabbits but not mice, moles, mink and so on?

Why is it lawful to use as many dogs as you like to hunt and dispatch a hare that has been shot at and believed wounded, but not if it was any other mammal?

These other mammals will have to crawl away and die a slow, lingering death.

Why is it lawful to use a dog underground to locate or flush a mammal to be shot, but only if you are protecting game birds that are being reared to be shot?

The shepherd or farmer who is losing lambs, chickens and other livestock to vermin cannot resort to this method.

The Act was forced on to the statute books by use of the Parliament Act after the House of Lords voted against it.

And some people within the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs admitted it was never about animal welfare but getting one over the landed gentry.

And you have to remember that the League Against Cruel Sports are also opposed to shooting, fishing and horse racing.

I take it Mr Wilson and others who support the Hunting Act will be doing all they can to encourage their MPs to introduce a member's bill to abolish these other activities.

The divide between the town and country is clear to see, rural traditions are being eroded and we are being made to abide by the city way of life. Our countryside is the last real piece of Britain.

It has been managed for generations by people who know and love animals.

GEORGE MORRISON, Hexham, Northumberland

Maps of squirrels' `front line' suggested

In the past, The Journal has actively supported the campaign to protect the red squirrel in the North-East.

Is it not time to address this problem in a more "military" way ?

The concerned public are the red squirrels' best hope of gaining protection from the grey. That public just needs mobilising. May I suggest that The Journal, in conjunction with the Northumberland Wild Life Trust, provides maps of the "front line" where greys are threatening the reds, section by section, so that the public who are watching for signs of the greys' invasion are put on alert in the danger areas.

The maps probably need to be the 50,000 series, hence one could envisage a weekly report on one section or perhaps the frequency should be based on knowledge of the seasonal pattern of squirrel movements.

Given a special telephone number for us to report to, I am sure such a scheme would draw sufficient support to conserve the areas where the red remains and perhaps, in time, hold the greys back south of the Tyne.

JR SHAW, Morpeth, Northumberland

Crossword glitch

May I refer the compiler of your Time Out section (The Journal, October 24) to the Quick Crossword in which the answers to clues 24 across and 25 down do not work out, ie plot and dead.

This could have been overcome had the clue to 24 across been Trudge.

E SCHOLES, Kenton, Newcastle

Time for a total ban on all fireworks

I read with great interest the article in The Journal regarding the selling of fireworks to children during the half term holiday and the article by Chief Constable Mike Craik and the letter in Voice of the North from Alan Brooks.

Whilst I agree in the main with Mike Craik, I was disappointed and saddened that he made no mention whatsoever of the terror, suffering and distress that fireworks cause to pets and other animals.

However I notice that your comment on page 10 does make mention of this.

Not far from where we live, fireworks have been going off since the beginning of September; my dog, Patch, is absolutely terrified and shakes with fear - other pet owners will I'm sure experience this too with their pets.

Unfortunately this doesn't end on November 5, as it is now becoming the norm for a repeat performance on New Year's Eve.

For the sake of all our pets, all animals and for all injuries caused to children.

Isn't it about time that this was ended once and for all by a total ban on all fireworks?

GEOFFREY GREGG, Tursdale, County Durham

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