In years past in this newspaper I have sometimes tried to guess who the editors of Time magazine would choose as their Person of the Year. This year, however, I determined to close my mind to the subject lest I were to be driven to the unacceptable conclusion that it would be President George W Bush - on the grounds of the solid victory of the Republicans in the November mid-term elections. Happily, Time has decided otherwise and in doing so has perhaps shown that informed American public opinion still retains a measure of ambivalence towards Mr Bush's policies, both domestic and international.

Time's editors named three almost unknown people: Sherron Watkins, Cynthia Cooper and Coleen Rowley. Each acted independently as a “whistleblower” during the past year going public with information that had been suppressed in the organisations they worked for in order to draw attention to corruption and inefficiency. Sherron Watkins, a vice-president at Enron, and Cynthia Cooper of WorldCom both uncovered serious malpractice at their accounting firms; Coleen Rowley, an FBI employee, revealed that the warnings she gave before 9/11 about Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called “twentieth hickjacker” were ignored by her superiors.

Time's choice of these courageous and principled women is a good one in itself - and it will also draw attention to the fact that Watkins and Cooper are now personae non gratae in their organisations and that the FBI officer identified by Rowley was last week the recipient of a special presidential award.