Letter: Aitken undone

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Sir: The Independent and virtually all other British publications are once again devoting much attention to Jonathan Aitken, but all fail to recognise the real culprit: the University of Oxford.

In The Importance of Being Earnest, Jack suggests to Lady Bracknell that Algernon is lying. She retorts: "Impossible! He is an Oxonian!"

In consequence of acts about which he lied at his trials, the author of that play (and of the essay "The Decay of Lying"), Oscar Wilde (Oxon.), went to Reading jail.

In consequence of lying to the Commons about his relationship with Christine Keeler, John Profumo (Oxon.) lost his cabinet post, and started events which led to the fall of the government.

In consequence of lying about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, Bill Clinton (Oxon.) was impeached by the US House of Representatives.

In consequence of lying in his prosecution of The Guardian, Jonathan Aiken (Oxon.) lost his cabinet post and parliamentary seat and has now gone to prison.

Is it not high time that the obvious culprit, the University of Oxford, recognises and takes seriously the full extent of its influence on British arts, and on politics throughout the English-speaking world?


Washington, DC