Padel's allies call for her to resign in smear row over

The new professor of poetry at Oxford University, Ruth Padel, faces concerted pressure to resign after it emerged that she had emailed journalists alerting them to old allegations of sexual misconduct by her main rival.

In the run-up to the election earlier this month, Oxford dons were anonymously sent documents alleging sexual harassment by the St Lucia-born poet Derek Walcott, 79, during the 1980s. Leading academics are now calling on the university to hold another vote.

Padel and Walcott were the front-runners for the prestigious role and Walcott's supporters complained about a smear campaign against him.

At the time, Padel said she had "nothing to do with any behind-doors operations". But it has emerged that the Oxford classicist sent emails before the vote highlighting Walcott's past.

Priyamvada Gopal, who teaches post-colonial studies at Cambridge University, said yesterday that the election had brought Oxford into disrepute. "Ruth Padel should do the honourable thing and step down," she said. "There should also be a new election to find another professor of poetry. We now have proof that there was a concerted smear campaign against Derek Walcott led by a gender-based faction determined to have a woman in the post."

The broadcaster and Labour peer Lord Bragg, who had supported Padel, told The Sunday Times that she should resign: "Even her mentioning Walcott's past in advance of the election was disgraceful. She should now stand down from the post. A shame but there it is."

A letter circulating among staff and students at Oxford shows how many are uncomfortable that the vote even went ahead. "The professorship, which has been in existence for 300 years, has been and should always be elected purely on the basis of a candidate's suitability for the post, not their identity or morality," the letter reads. "The presence of personal attacks and politics in this campaign, regardless of their origin, sets a dangerous precedent for the next chair holder and may discourage future nominees from running in case they are judged, not by their talent, but by incidents from their distant past."

Ms Padel said she had simply been passing on the concerns of a student.

Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May

film

Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’

North London meets The Exorcist in eerie suburban drama

TV

Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living