10 NOVEMBER 1990, Page 28

Sir: May I comment on the letter of my valued

friend Christopher Booker, whose own integrity in this affair is beyond question?

1. Brigadier Cowgill made a serious error in calling a press conference, which ensured that editors would require an instant reaction to the report rather than a lengthy study. A more sentimental mistake was to choose as a contributor Lord Brimelow, whose later professional in- volvement in the repatriation policy makes it very difficult to regard him as impartial, or to be other than sceptical about the report.

2. 'Every document quoted is repro- duced in facsimile in the companion volume' (which I was not sent by The Spectator). Maybe. But other documents were not — such as a scarcely irrelevant letter from Field Marshal Alexander to Field Marshal Sir Alan Brooke (20 August 1945): 'So far I have refused to use forte to repatriate Soviet citizens'. The choice of documents quoted was necessarily selec- tive.

3. 'A quotation [on the role of General Murray] which Jolliffe appears to have made up.' Appearances are deceptive. My quotation is from a letter written by General Murray to me on 24 April 1978, fully supporting my plan for the Memorial to the Repatriated which was eventually dedicated by the Bishop of Fulham oppo- site the Victoria & Albert Museum. Sub- scribers to it included a former Foreign Secretary and a retired permanent head of the Foreign Office who had earlier served on Macmillan's staff in Italy.

4. `. . . in later years Macmillan, without adequate documentation, was unable to combat Tolstoy's charges.' Macmillan would have needed no documents whatev- er in order to point out that he was merely Alexander's political adviser and was not in a position to give orders to generals and brigadiers about sending back prisoners and refugees. But he never did so, either to his biographer or to anyone else. Even a cursory reading of my article would reveal that I am far from sharing all Tolstoy's theories, but I am delighted to support the Georgina Tolstoy Family Fund, founded as a result of an award of damages widely regarded both inside and outside the legal profession as grotesque (although I am not, as stated, the organiser). One happy result of Brigadier Cowgill's report is that the flow of contributions to this Trust has sharply increased.

John Jolliffe

Church House, Chesterblade, Shepton Mallet, Somerset