26 FEBRUARY 1972, Page 19

File on the Tsar

Sir: Having just read Tibor Szamuely's article on the BBC programme The File on the Tsar' (February 5) I .find myself totally confused. I feel sure that he must realise that the solemn and Slavonic' music was in fact the closing bars of the 1812 Overture by Tchaikowsky, which was adopted as the Russian Imperial anthem.

If Mr Szamuely had been listening more carefully at the beginning, instead of thinking how best to use the programme to denigrate the BBC, he would have heard that the programme was designed to put the case of those who disbelieve the traditional story. It was not, therefore, by its own admission, trying to produce a balanced debate of the two conflicting points of view.

Such was his lack of success in finding ways to thwart the testimonial of Professor Camps that he had to resort to the irrelevant and ridiculous comment that "no British courts of law exist in Russia." This surprising fact is supposed to discredit Professor Camps but surely must reflect rather on its author.

If there was a plot to save the Tsar, and it was successful, then it would seem likely that part of any bargain with the Bolsheviks would have been that the Tsar should appear to disappear so as to appease the Bolshevik supporters, to whom the Tsar was a tyrannical barrier to their freedom. Hence the statement of Mr Gillard, who must have been prepared to do anything for the family's safety, could be explained as propagating the cover-story that the Romanovs were dead. This of course is only surmise and cannot be proven but it is a thought for Mr Szamuely to bear in mind.

He glibly accepts Bykov's answer to the problem of the absence of large-scale remains from the bodies, which, he says, were taken to a swamp where they " have now (1938) happily rotted." It seems to me that a corpse which had been burnt and dissolved in acid would have nothing left to rot. This 'explanation' also poses the unanswered question of why, if so much care was taken to destroy all traces of the bodies, were bone fragments and especially the finger, which is the most important piece of evidence for identification, left there to be found, unless it was to enable an ' identification ' to be made.

Since Mr Szamuely seizes upon all the sticks he can find with which to beat the investigators, we can only conclude that where he does not mention part of the programme he could find no evidence to refute the BBC statement. This, then, leaves unexplained at least Maria Federovna's mood, which was hardly that of a bereaved

mother, not to mention reports of the Royal Family being seen alive after the supposed killings, reports, which according to the recently descovered transcript of Wilton's copy of the Sokolov Report are deliberately suppressed in Sokolov's report issued in Paris.

Mr Szamuely ends his article with expressions of fear about the power of television to misrepresent. Of course, we all believe what the newspapers and periodicals say, don't we?

Perhaps the fairest conclusion to this perplexing problem is that of that shadowy and enigmatic figure Robert Wilton, correspondent of the Times, who said that the Tsar was dead because it was necessary to say that he be dead.

J. D. Half ord The Digby, Sherborne, Dorset