15 MARCH 1963, Page 13

Sta.—While i recognise that, in defence of the United Nations

Office of Public Information, Mr. Osgood Caruthers (Acting Director of the UN's Press, Pub- lications and Public Services) should feel it necessary to reply to my article 'UN and the Press' (Spectator, February i am shocked that he should make this the occasion of a personal attack upon my profes- sional integrity. My article did not contain a single personal criticism of Mr. Caruthers or any of his colleagues. Nor, as he maintains, was it 'purportedly

aimed at improving the standards of journalism at the UN.' Mainly, it was a report of the action taken

by the United Nations Correspondents' Association m the hope of improving the services at the UN Office of Public Information. This action was without pre- cedent and was agreed by a unanimous vote at a meeting of the Association.

Subsequently, United Nations Secretary-General U Thant received a deputation of senior correspon- dents and sympathetically discussed their complaints. it is an undisputed fact that U Thant agreed with the UN correspondents that there was 'a lot of room fat improvement' in OPI, and gave his assurance that he would do whatever he could to meet their requirements and to 'come up with a workable and helpful system immediately.' Yet Mr. Caruthers, who was not present at this meeting, alleges 'there is no foundation whatsoever' to my report that U Thant promised to reorganise the system in a way that would give it greater efficiency. Mr. Caruthers's letter to the S'pectator also glosses over the fact that, since this promise from U -Thant (on January la), sev- eral of the improvements requested by the correspon- dents have gone into effect. These include official daily briefings to correspondents by spokesmen of the UN (usually Mr. Caruthers), a speed-up in the distribution of press releases, and more reliable access to UN press officers after normal duty hours. If there are any Inaccuracies and distortions' in this matter, I can only suggest that they are in Mr. Caruthers's interpretation of my article. A number of senior members of the UN Press Corps have read it and have said that they find it to be a substantially accurate account. I also have the authority of Mr. Georges Wolff, President of the United Nations Cor- resPondents' Association, to state that he regards it as a fair and factual report, giving a true picture of ' the correspondents' complaints and the state of affairs within the UN which these complaints were designed to redress.