ONE of the most shocking scenes ever witnessed on primetime TV was shown on ITV Evening News on February 27: the unspeakable cruelty with which a large number of helpless dolphins were slaughtered by gangs of Japanese butchers in what can only be termed an orgy of uninhibited blood-lust (dolphin meat is apparently in demand as a delicacy in Japan).

Dolphins are among the most complex and beautiful creatures ever to grace this planet, with an intelligence comparable to ours and a moral sense - to judge by their behaviour - far superior. To see them treated with such brutality would enrage anyone of basic decency and compassion.

Japan's environmental record is a disgrace. If it's not the illegal hunting of whales, bad as that is, it's the less well-publicised abuse of other marine life.

You would think the strong Buddhist presence in Japan would deter their government from condoning these barbarities, but there again - there was little trace of Buddhist compassion in the Japanese treatment of Allied prisonersof- war and Chinese civilians circa 1939-45.

Tony Kelly, Crook, Co Durham.