8 NOVEMBER 2003, Page 40

Racism in the army

From John R. Brown Sir: Leo McKinsuy argues that a double standard is applied when the British police are held to a higher standard than other citizens in regard to making racist comment (The multicultural thought police', 1 November). I think, however, he misses the main point, which is that the police have extraordinary power over others. It generally doesn't matter to most of us what a member of an ethnic minority thinks or says, but it does matter what the police think and say because they have authority over the rest of us.

My wife grew up in a Pakistani community in the East End of London and still has bitter memories of the racist attitude of the local police — these feelings are so strong that even today she simply does not trust the British police to behave in a non-racist way.

I was a member of the British army during the 1970s, and nearly all the white soldiers I served with had racist views. What is surprising is that members of today's British armed forces still have such views. I have been in the Australian armed forces for over 15 years and am still saddened by the racist comments made by visiting UK service personnel who, because I am white, assume that I must agree with them. I take a sorrowful pleasure in disabusing them. John Brown

Victoria, Australia