It has long been the practice that when someone is felt to be deserving of an honour a case is made to the appropriate Government department together with supporting testaments. This is almost always done without the knowledge of the person (who can of course decline the honour).
In the case of Professor Skempton (Sydney Lenssen's column NCE 18 March) the usual process has been followed and he was completely unaware that a recommendation was being made. To have suggested that he agreed to the proposal ('If it pleases Skem to be commended, that will be splendid') is offensive and totally contrary to his nature.
It appears that you did not give the slightest consideration to the feelings or reaction of this great and unassuming man for whom an honour is long overdue. This pointless and snide article has caused considerable upset and may have severely damaged the case.
John Burland (F), professor of soil mechanics, Department of civil and environmental engineering, Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, Imperial College Rd, London SW7 2BU
See Sydney Lenssen, page 13