MARK Brown is always a pleasure to read but I was especially moved by his piece on Joseph Knight, since this was a case I have personally used as a precedent in court (Giving a voice to Scotland’s black history, Oct 14).

In 2017 I was on trial in Dumbarton for taking non-violent direct action against the criminal transportation of Trident warheads. In my defence I quoted a parable of the Jesuit philosopher Antony De Mello. This is part of what I said:

“Once an eagle’s egg was placed in a nest box in a poultry yard. The egg hatched, and the young bird grew up with the rest of the poultry. He scratched in the dirt and ate the scraps thrown to him by the farmer, He grew and grew, and lived happy enough. Finally, death came to him, as it does to all of us. As he lay dying, he looked up and saw these magnificent creatures soaring and wheeling high in the sky. Amazed, he asked one of the hens; ‘What is that?’ She replied: ‘Why, those are eagles, Don’t you know, that’s what you are?’

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“With respects, I ask your honour to consider the message of this parable. You could, like an eagle, rise above the dirt of political postures and conventional atomic apologetics, and deliver belated justice to our nuclear victims. There is a precedent for the law making a courageous moral stand in advance of the government of the day. In 1778 the Sheriff of Perthshire liberated a Jamaican slave called Joseph Knight, ruling that slavery was not recognised by the law of Scotland and was inconsistent with its principles (in Knight v Wedderburn.) His decision was upheld on appeal, where Lord Kames stated that. ‘We sit here to enforce right, not to enforce wrong’.”

I was drawing a parallel between the courts being ahead of the political assumption of the day then, and the possibility of the law today making a courageous decision to affirm the illegality of Trident.

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Alas my plea was in vain. I was guilty of a “breach of the peace”(!) Since then the highest court in the world (the United Nations) has affirmed the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, on January 21 2021. I can only repeat the heartfelt plea I made on that occasion. Can any of the legal experts who grace the bench please stand up and clearly affirm the unequivocal illegality of Trident? Someone, anyone, please. Break the conspiracy of silence. I implore you. (Hello Aidan O’Neil, do you hear me?)

The convoys that trundle along our roads carrying hydrogen bombs should be halted by the Scottish Government at the borders and the drivers be instructed to return, or they should be arrested. Scotland can then join the real world, which wants us to have a future.

If only we stand by the law.

Brian Quail

AS a lifelong advocate of women’s rights, it distresses me that the Scottish Government should place such huge importance on correcting one perceived inequality through the impending Gender Recognition Act proposals at Holyrood by stealing a woman’s XX sex and gifting it to scientifically genetic XY men without asking women’s permission.

Something as important as this proposal is for women should be put to the women of Scotland in a referendum to ask if they agree with gifting their sex and all its implications for their equality. Men should be nowhere near the decision.

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To be clear, my opinion is purely from the point of view of equality for women. I have no greater concern that transgender women will be any greater a threat to women than are some men, I believe we should all be treated fairly and respectfully, and stealing a women’s sex to gift to men to make their life easier at the expense of women and girls is a major intervention against women’s struggle for equality.

The time taken for this proposal would be better spent on improving the quality of life for all women, not focusing on a small number of individuals who should be treated respectfully but who have a voice louder than the sum of their numbers. When we start manipulating science to achieve our ends there is something far wrong with the proposals.

Christine Smith

IT’S a fact: the Fraser of Allander contributor Ms Spowage, on Tuesday morning on the Kaye Adams radio programme, stated that Scotland is a rich and prosperous country.

It took a while to get there, however. Initially, whilst discussing the Scottish Government’s paper on the economy, the economist stated that when oil and gas is excluded there is a gap between income and expenditure, which would be a difficult problem to resolve. It was not really clear, but it sounded as though the economist was using the GERS model to describe the transition process of Scotland migrating out from UK to independence.

There will be challenges going solo, but my goodness we will face challenges being shackled to UK, without the capability to pull the levers needed to make our country fairer and more supportive.

Alistair Ballantyne
Birkhill, Angus