JIM Taylor challenges me to cite precisely what powers I think EU leaders have to intercede in what is essentially a Spanish matter (Letters, The National, November 10). The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is a supra-national or international court established by the European Convention on Human Rights which hears applications alleging that a contracting state has breached one or more of the human rights provisions concerning civil and political rights set out in the convention and its protocols.

An application can be brought by an individual, a group of individuals or one or more of the contracting states and besides judgments, the court can issue advisory opinions.

The convention was adopted within the Council of Europe and all 47 member states are contracting parties to it. So I suggest that the powers it has to bring pressure on the Madrid government persuade it to recognise the Catalan vote.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has two main functions: the direct application of European law and to interpret the provision of this law to keep it consistent and uniform among member states. So, the ECJ enforces EU law. It is not influenced by member states and is directed at European integration and individual citizens.

Carles Puigdemont, whether acting as an individual or as a representative of a group, therefore has a right to be heard and, I believe that he has the right to expect that EU leaders and MEPs will support his position. Not, as Mr Taylor seems to think, by “sabre rattling” to wind up “an illusory chattering class” – I think I can leave it to readers to decide upon his choice of words – but by reminding Rajoy of the right of people to express their political views without being assaulted by the state’s police and to have their votes respected, if need be by ameliorating the laws of a member state which made it necessary for the Catalans to hold what the Spanish, and EU leaders deem an illegal vote.

If this is a “flawed prospectus” then I plead guilty to it but do not apologise for holding it. If Theresa May decides to refuse Scotland a second independence vote and/or takes back the powers Scotland has achieved since devolution, according to Mr Taylor’s logic, there won’t be a thing we will be able to do about it, nor can we expect any support from the EU.

If, however, we insist that our elected representatives speak out against the Spanish government, urge the ECHR and the ECJ to use its influence to “enforce” – that is the word in the ECJ provision and I assume that this means politically – then we will have supported democracy and will have the right to have our own democratic views recognised and acted upon.
Lovina Roe

How embarrassing for the monarch to be caught up in the dreadful Paradise Papers debacle.

The British media are fervently trying to protect the integrity of the House of Windsor by implying that this was something the Queen had no control over and some anonymous accountant somewhere was responsible. But it’s not illegal anyway, so why all the fuss? When I was a partner in a business some years ago, we employed at great expense a reputable accountancy firm to deal with our tax affairs.

During an HMRC audit, they found some minor discrepancies in the tax returns for one particular year. We as the business owners were each heavily fined and had to pay the deficit plus interest and narrowly avoided prosecution.

Our pleas to HMRC that we had employed a reputable accountancy firm to avoid such issues fell on deaf ears. In HMRC’s view, it was us, as the business owners, who had the ultimate responsibility for all tax affairs and the fact that the accountants were proven negligent having not checked new tax rules had no bearing on the matter whatsoever. Our personal integrity was left in tatters by HMRC after that extremely stressful time.

So the Queen bears no responsibility whatsoever for the tax avoiding £10 million in Bermuda?

One rule for us mortals and another for elites, it seems. I look forward with interest to see what the Paradise Papers reveal next on this skewed, immoral “one big society” that is Great Britain, although I doubt that any of us will be shocked about something we’ve all known all along.
Graeme Goodall