(c) Doc Hackenbush 2014
That debate has not been helped by the obsessive intervention of (thankfully) former Tory MP Louise Mensch, who has selectively blogged about Hunt and UCL, her posts including the most unfortunate and pejorative of language. She has accompanied this with equally obsessive pursuit of her targets on Twitter, these including the Guardian, the BBC, and anyone, especially at UCL, who dares to disagree with her.
Ms Mensch made her demands known at the outset: “UCL has a Council on 9th July … Fellows of UCL, or whoever judges there, should ask that his honorary Professorship be restored … The Royal Society, on similar grounds, should restore his honorary membership of whatever committee he was on … And because of their campaigning and pre-judgement of Sir Tim, which was evidence-free, contrary to good science, Professors Dorothy Bishop and David Colquhoun should, in my view, both be asked to resign from the Diversity Committee of the Royal Society”. Modest as always.
So what happened at yesterday’s meeting? “The ruling council of University College London has unanimously backed the university’s decision to accept the resignation of Sir Tim Hunt in a sexism row that has caused bitter divisions across the scientific community”. There would be no reinstatement, nor any resignations.
Moreover, “In a statement on Thursday evening intended to draw a line under the month-long saga, the council said university management and Hunt were in agreement that reversing the decision would be ‘inappropriate’”. But Ms Mensch made it clear only last weekend that Hunt should be reinstated by UCL. Would she now admit failure?
You jest. All that has emerged since UCL made its judgment known has been an urging to “look over there”, as witness “statement from ucl's council; ucl supporters trying to say they 'wouldn't restore' hon prof - #TimHunt wouldn't accept it”. Could we have an English translation? “Not 'offered', @ucl desperate for a joint statement indeed as @ucl contempt of academia - #TimHunt not given”. So she claims Hunt would not accept reinstatement.
That’s despite her campaign, and one should note that this is all with hindsight. And then came the inevitable smear: “to be clear UCL is a very second-rate college in London that was really lucky to have a Nobel laureate associate with them”. Oh dear. On top of that was claiming a Times editorial as fact: “SO GLAD to see the Times call out the contemptible lie by @Connie_Stlouis #TimHunt”.