28 DECEMBER 2002, Page 28

A lengthy apology

From Mr Fraser Steel

Sir: George Monbiot could have expressed himself more briefly (Letters. 14121 December) to the same effect: I was wrong, but that's all right because if I'd been right (which I might have been) I wouldn't have been wrong, and anyway my error hurt no one. The argument is along the lines of the old Hungarian saying, 'If my grandmother had balls, she'd be my grandfather', and can be recommended to anyone trying to recoup credibility after being made a fool of by events. What it glosses over, however, is the fact that Mr Monbiot's error hurt no one only because his opinion was disregarded. If it had prevailed, and the people of Afghanistan were still ruled by the Taleban (probably not the best regime for supporting the transport and delivery of the supplies required to keep the country's hungry people alive'), would he now be admitting his error? Fraser Steel

London WI I