14 DECEMBER 1991, Page 35

Veiled threat

Sir: Rory Knight Bruce's piece 'Masters of the public vendetta' (30 November), says a lot more about the author than it does about Norman Lamont and Andrew Neil. The central point he makes cannot be allowed to go in the record unchallenged. He states that 'the current tussle' between the Sunday Times and the Chancellor of the Exchequer is entirely one of personality and adds that such personal vendettas 'sug- gest an inability to argue issues'.

It is really quite difficult to accuse us of not arguing the issue of economic policy in the past year, though I can understand that a gossip columnist has difficulties grappling with the concepts. The Sunday Times has been critical of the Government's economic policies under the last three chancellors without personalising the debate. Thou- sands of words, by our economics editor, our political editor, business staff and by me, have been devoted entirely to the issues: the over-expansion of Nigel Lawson, the refusal of John Major to anticipate the recession and bring interest rates down, and Norman Lamont's over-optimistic assessment of the prospects for recovery.

This criticism has been justified by events, but has stung the Treasury and the Chancellor — hence his 'squalid' remark, which was quickly disowned by 10 Downing Street and other senior Tories.

I can assure you the position of the Sun- day Times was never based on any of the absurd premises which Mr Knight Bruce puts forward. But if you wanted to start a public vendetta, Mr Knight Bruce's wild and inflammatory article is a fair example of how to set about it.

Ivan Fallon

The Sunday Times, 1 Pennington Street, London El