6 MAY 1972, Page 27

Sir: What on earth do Messers Mangold and Summers mean

when they write of the Russian imperial family: "The onus is now on the April 8)? When a group of prominent people totally disappears, and historian to prove death" (Letters, no one sets eyes on them for fiftyfive years, surely it is normal to assume that they are dead? The onus is precisely the other way round. The fact is that, in historical investigations as in other human activities, it pays to display a little common sense. The obvious interpretation of evidence is not necessarily wrong because it is less novel and dramatic than histoire romancee, and, for some of us, it is also basically more interesting. Conspiratorial theories of historical events (and evidence — of a sort — can be found to support the most unlikely theses) usually add bore

dom to bosh. Anthony Hartley 2 Westbourne Park Road, London W2