COLIN Dunning (Letters, July 5) attacks James Mildred’s view on assisted dying not in its own terms, but solely on the basis that “Mr Mildred’s world view is based on his religious belief”, and thus amounts to “the scaremongering of religious fundamentalists”.

Mildred argued, according to Dunning’s letter, that under such a law vulnerable people would be “pressured into killing themselves”, so that “the choice to die would inevitably become the duty to die and that no safeguards could ever prevent this outcome”. Where in Dunning’s letter is there any refutation of this claim?

Of course, the pro-death lobby loves religious opponents because they make such a convenient straw man, which is why they are always given prominence in this debate.

But I, as a non-religious elderly person, need no “scaremongering” to convince me of the wrongness of assisted dying. I’m already scared by the constant moans about “the problem of the ageing population”, about the burden I place on the NHS, about the need for “intergenerational justice” to correct my apparently lavish lifestyle, and – worst of all, from the independence movement that I support – about the very existence of my predominantly No-voting generation.

The truth of an argument should be judged on the matter it relates to – in this case, the interests of the group most affected by the proposed law – not on any other beliefs of the person putting it forward. James Mildred is not presenting a dogmatically religious view, but pointing out what will leap to the minds of many elderly, sick or disabled persons when confronted with the threat of an assisted dying law.

Katherine Perlo

I WRITE in support of the long letter by Andy Duncan in the Sunday National (July 7) where he eloquently makes the case that to stop wildlife crime on driven grouse moors we need new legislation based on probability rather than direct proof.

Definitive proof is very difficult to establish given the remote nature of such crimes, that is in terms of evidence that could stand up in a court case. However, such processes as he suggests would not require a criminal prosecution of an individual, but rather the removal of the sporting licence from an estate where such activities are occurring on a regular and systematic basis and “guilt” is established via an assessment based on “reasonable doubt”. This would be much more harmful to such estates than prosecuting the employee carrying out the deed.

I recall that while working as a fishing ghillie some years ago I had, on several occasion, to “host” a couple of estate factors, not from Scotland but Yorkshire, both of whom managed driven grouse moors, and I can only assume that because of my employment they calculated that I was “one of them” as they were so forthcoming.

They often talked quite openly about how they dealt with “unwelcome feathered predatory invaders” as they saw them.

The method of operation, as explained to me, was that a young keeper would be told to ensure that the said “intruder” was taken care of in the very early hours and suitably disposed off along with any electronic tag, and well before normal people were out and about! The implication being that their job was on the line. The story was told with much amusement.

I have not read, in the detail of this most recent case, at what hour the tags stopped transmitting!

On another but related issue that is in the press currently, they also admitted that were it not for the mass culling of mountain hares, which they quite legally undertook annually, then predation by such birds of prey, both on their moors and on farmers’ lambs, would be much reduced. Admittedly these recollections relate to estates in England but I am sure the culture equally applies here in Scotland.

Perhaps the SNP government needs to challenge the current practices and adopt a policy of “suspending” sporting estate licences. This I am sure, would be less than amusing for the Tweed set!

John Scobie

ANDY Duncan, thanks for putting so well into words that which many casual observers (me included) are likening to the bleedin obvious. Your licensing solution is also a great first move to stop this slaughter.

Ultimately though, we will need our independence to stop forever the appalling misuse of valuable land resources by the rich and privileged.

Alastair Gibb

WHOEVER made up the caption for Saturday’s Picture of the Day obviously does not know Skye.

The picture shows the RED Cuillin (the clue is in the RED screes!) and was taken from Glen Sligachan, not Carbost, which is about 10 miles further west.

Perhaps your caption writer had over indulged on Carbost’s most famous product – Talisker.

Andrew M Fraser