Here is the text of the email Ruth Padel (who resigned as Oxford’s Professor of Poetry yesterday) sent to Olivia Cole, ensuring the press knew about the past of her then-rival, Derek Walcott.
“ON the CHair, there is still no other nomination except (so extraordinarily) Derek W and me. But thye close on 29th April so another or others may well turnup…
“THere is aupposed to be a book called The Lecherous Professor, which has 6 pages on Derek Walcott’s two cases of sexual harassment, which might provide interestigfn copy on what Oxford wants from its professors.. ALl best, Ruth.”
Published by the Torygraph among other papers, Padel’s (incredibly badly-spelt) email – which she denied sending – doesn’t mention the ‘student concerns’ she claimed prompted her to tip off the press (as opposed, one assumes, to the University itself).
At a press conference today, Padel spoke of her ‘relief’ at quitting, and called the emails she sent ‘naive and silly’. However, she still denies having done anything wrong. Unsurprisingly, she has ruled out the possibility of standing for reelection – can you imagine if she tried to run again?!
Meanwhile in Oxford, students finishing English Finals at the Exam Schools (where the election was held earlier this month) were filmed emerging from their exams by media cameras; University staff supervising the event said the footage would be used as part of the coverage of Padel’s resignation.
Dr Sophie Duncan is Fellow in English at Christ Church, University of Oxford. She works regularly as a historical advisor and as a dramaturg for theatre, TV, radio and film. She likes theatre, detective fiction and cocktails.