Tuesday, 26 May 2009

It's a conspiracy!

What is amazing about the Guardian's story about Ruth Padel resigning as Oxford's professor of poetry is that she is claiming she has done nothing wrong and a host of women writers are queueing up to claim that she is the victim of a conspiracy:
Ruth Padel the first woman elected Oxford's professor of poetry, has resigned following claims she tipped off ­journalists about allegations that her chief rival for the post, Derek Walcott, had sexually ­harassed students.

Padel won the vote nine days ago. But in a statement tonight she said: "I genuinely believe that I did nothing intentional that led to Derek Walcott's withdrawal from the election. I wish he had not pulled out. I did not engage in a smear campaign against him, but, as a result of student concern, I naively – and with hindsight unwisely – passed on to two journalists, whom I believed to be covering the whole election responsibly, information that was already in the public domain."

She said she had acted in "good faith"
It seems to have been the fault of the journalists for using information that Padel gave them. Clearly she had no idea that they would do so.

No more convincing are the claims of women writers like Jeanette Winterson that it's a sexist stitch-up. Surely they must realise that crying "sexist" on such a weak case damages their credibility.

It appears though that the writer of this piece Charlotte Higgins, is also on Padel's side:
The so-called smear campaign saw up to 100 Oxford academics sent ­photocopied pages from a book detailing a sexual ­harassment claim made against Walcott by a student at Harvard in 1982. Widely felt to be the favoured candidate of the Oxford English faculty, the Nobel laureate resigned from the race on 12 May.
If sending photocopied pages to 100 academics is not a smear campaign, it's hard to imagine what would qualify. Padel is in any case claiming that this act was nothing to do with her. It's presumably just a coincidence that she was tipping off journalists about the same allegations.

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