Padel’s claims she did nothing to ‘smear’ Walcott are looking even shakier – Olivia Cole, the journalist to whom she chose to raise ‘student concerns’ is in fact a gossip diarist for the Evening Standard.
Interestingly, however, she is an Oxford graduate, and an award-winning fellow-poet, listed in April 2009 as one of the Times’s ten rising stars of poetry (were they photographed in the Oxford Union?). Olivia Cole, 28, read English (Padel read English and Classics at LMH) at Christ Church, got a first in Mods (and, one assumes in Finals), and won the Gibbs Prize for a thesis on Sylvia Plath. Cole quotes Plath on page 4 of her 13 May 2009 article for the Spectator, which covered Walcott’s ‘dignified halt’ to the campaign. No mention there of the email which she had received from Padel on 9 April.
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.