JOSEP Lluís Alay is a history professor at the University of Barcelona who works as office manager for the president of Catalonia, Carles Puigdemont, who was illegally deposed by the Spanish government in 2017 following a self-organised referendum on self-determination for Catalonia.

As an emblematic example of the recurrent persecution of Catalan pro-independence activists, Alay is the subject of wild accusations. For example, the Spanish police allegedly discovered the preparation of an invasion of 10,000 Russian soldiers, supported by the Kremlin, to achieve Catalan independence. The incriminating evidence was a document recovered by the police that turned out to be a translation of a Russian espionage novel commissioned from Alay (who is very multilingual) by a Catalan publisher.

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He was also arrested in Germany, at Spain’s request, for accompanying Puigdemont on a return trip from Finland, without specific charges being brought against him.

What is more, Alay is accused of having travelled to New Caledonia at the invitation of pro-independence Kanaks as an international observer of one of the self-determination referendums held in the archipelago. He is accused of having spent the cost of the plane ticket. His participation gave credibility to the referendum process in New Caledonia organised by the French authorities; therefore, they should consider Mr Alay as their guest. For France’s honour’s sake, Alay should not be bothered on this account.

Another charge of embezzlement concerns a highway toll of €11 paid by Alay and charged to the Catalan government to visit Catalan political prisoners. For these last two trips, the Spanish prosecutor is asking for three years in jail and 17 years of disqualification!

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This is reminiscent of the accusation against Puigdemont of embezzlement of public funds for the referendum. The Spanish minister of economy, Mr Montoro, admitted that he was sure that no embezzlement that could be attributed to Puigdemont had taken place.

It is ironic that Catalan leaders are being prosecuted for embezzlement of public funds in a country where it is common knowledge that a member of the royal family has embezzled public funds and the former king Juan Carlos has been accused of taking bribes. If corruption were really the judge’s concern, he should start with the Popular Party and the royal family.

The reality is that the Spanish judicial system has abandoned impartiality and has put itself at the service of the unity of the homeland threatened by Catalan independence.

Tiago Douwens Prats
Fontenay-le-Fleury, France

IF Scotland’s only Labour MP is shocked that civil servants in Scotland are receiving taxpayers’ cash to work on implementing policy promised in the SNP manifesto, can someone ask for his thoughts on the taxpayers’ cash that went to Westminster civil servants for secretly producing a report on Scottish attitudes to independence?

He might also like to tell us his thoughts on the taxpayer cash used thereafter to defend these actions in court and then to ignore the legal ruling.

P Davidson

AS the all-year-round pantomimes continue at the House of Conmen, Westmonster Productions proudly presents this month’s offering of “Far Right and the 7 Toffs”. Starring alongside Far Right are Sleazy, Snooty, Cashful, Gropey, Spin Doc, Scrumpy and Cocky. Guaranteed live entertainment Mondays toFridays with a bevy load of laughs at the taxpayers’ expense. (Oh, yes it is!)

Linda Boyle