Undark: How MIT’s Deborah Blum Misreported “Schroedinger’s” Tim Hunt

Sexism in Science? Deborah Blum’s Storify Falsely Reported Sir Tim Hunt


A key part of the case against Sir Tim Hunt has just fallen apart. The story is no longer sexism in science, but integrity in journalism. Just as Deborah Blum and MIT launch Undark, some sort of science journalism venture (excuse me for not being too excited; I’ve seen Blum’s journalistic standards at work close up)  – a backer of hers in the Tim Hunt affair, a BBC producer called Sue Nelson, unwittingly blew Blum’s entire story apart.

On the 14th June, Deborah Blum struck back at poor Sir Tim’s attempts to tell the Observer newspaper he was joking. He’d had plenty of chances to explain himself in Seoul, she said. This was no stitch up. Journalists who were at that lunch had asked him about the incident, gave him a chance to clarify.

Journalists who were at lunch questioned him about his statements, gave him a chance to clarify. I asked him directly myself. 3/5

But after the first reports were proven by data to be false, Blum closed down and stopped answering questions. Which “journalists who were at the Tim Hunt lunch questioned him about his statements”? For Tim Hunt wasn’t a victim – no stitch-up here. Why, the sexist old snob simply refused to answer when the question was discussed! His bad faith, his unpleasant refusal to take responsibilty to journalists – all part and parcel of his victim-blaming mentality, we suppose. And so Deborah Blum, Board, WFSJ, reported that these journalists – at his lunch – had given Sir Tim a chance to clarify

Boom, lays it down

Said journalist Hannah Waters. Deborah Blum replied, with all the righteousness an ignored journalism professor admin* at MIT could muster:

Yes, had just had enough. Thanks!

In her Daily Beast article, Deborah Blum referenced her storify, including this tweet, and she alluded to Tim Hunt’s nonanswers:

They also noted that although Hunt belatedly called his remarks an attempt at humor, he had earlier defended them as “trying to be honest.” (That was certainly what he said to me among others.)

Here Blum is not talking about the BBC interview, as she references it earlier (Sir Tim Hunt stated in terms on 10 June to the Guardian that “being honest” referred to his own love life and not to any view he held of women in science). No, she is referencing her linked Storify claim that “Journalists who were at the lunch asked him about the incident, gave him a chance to clarify.”

But when did this happen?

Journalists are meant to speak truth to power, not cover up for each other. With rare, honourable exceptions, that is what the WFSJ/WCSJ did. All those who agreed to dispute Deborah Blum’s account of the lunch were ordinary journalists in attendance – whereas so many of those who backed her, or kept silent, held key positions in the WFSJ (which they never declared when supporting her on Tim Hunt).

Blum went to ground, but obviously kept talking to her anti-Tim Hunt allies in the twittersphere privately. Especially, Deborah Blum would not give any details that could be fact-checked by other journalists. However, this week, the BBC producer Sue Nelson, a long-time defender of Hunt’s persecutors, gave the game away. It was worse than we all thought – Sir Tim Hunt had been asked about the incident at a session focusing on sexism in science!


And this session featured Deborah Blum of MIT, Cristine Russell of MIT, Valeria Roman of the MIT Knight Science programme, and Connie St. Louis! It was sponsored by MIT Knight Science Program!

Yes, even as women journalists discussed sexism in science, including Sir Tim Hunt’s “deadly serious” call for segregated labs, and “gave him a chance to clarify”, he, the sexist old fool, high-handedly ignored them and said nothing. Deborah Blum told this to her ally, Sue Nelson:

I understand he was asked next day at a talk to explain during a Q&A and didn’t respond.

Mary Collins, Sir Tim’s wife, told Nelson this was untrue. But Nelson replied:

A member of the panel he was on told me this. Will get name/time talk to clarify.

Professor Collins checked with Sir Tim:

I will then check with him, he says no.

But Sue Nelson was not having this. She doubled down, placing a decimal point before her tweet to Collins so that all of Twitter would see it, and asserted flatly:

. Subject came up in next day’s science & sexism panel Q&A. Tim in audience. He did not respond.

And Professor Deborah Blum of MIT, and the Knight Science Writing program at MIT, organiser of the Sexism in Science session, sponsored by MIT, jumped in to validate this accusation:

That’s correct. Was raised by a journalist also in the audience.

Once again, Professor Collins tells them both they are flat wrong. Sir Tim Hunt was chairing the presentations of two actual female scientists, Drs. Laefer and Gabrys, at a paralell session for the ERC, while the MIT crew talked about ‘sexism in science’ at their session.

Instead of immediately backing down the BBC’s Sue Nelson insists her ‘eyewitnesses’ are right. Back to Deborah Blum:

Deborah was that the right session?

Blum says, again, with no prevarication or caveats:

Yes, that was the one. His appearance discussed by a number of journalists afterwards.

I know myself to be invested in the story of Sir Tim Hunt, and at this point I was almost shaking with adrenaline. Was it possible that Deborah Blum had misreported on Sir Tim Hunt from the very, very start? She left out of her joint CSL tweet, and her own tweets, the praise she later admitted Tim Hunt lavished on women scientists – admitting this only after Hunt had been fired from all his positions. So Deborah Blum’s partial quoting was already established. But had Ms. Blum, who spoke at that “sexism in science” panel – – under MIT auspices – simply reported falsely, on her own, and without checking, that Sir Tim Hunt was “given a chance to clarify” and “asked about it by journalists” when he was not there at all? As the session was on sexism in science, would not Sir Tim have looked aloof, stand-offish and just plain nasty for sitting there and refusing to comment or explain himself? Deborah Blum was angry – as she said herself. ‘Thanks, just had enough.’

Was Tim Hunt not where Deborah Blum said he was? Had she false reported from MIT’s own session?

Nelson said the revelations were a “damp squib” and that Hunt left his session and arrived late at the Sexism session. Deborah Blum favourited that tweet.

So I checked the metadata on competing session photos. The last of the sexism Q&A was timed 5:11. The last of the ERC session was timed at 4:27 – but that was before either Dr. Laefer or Dr. Gabrys began to speak. So, Sir Tim Hunt could have left their session early? I checked: Dr. Laefer told me had remained throughout. There were few questions but afterwards, as she said, spoke to each other and Sir Tim did an interview with a Kenyan journalist, then there was a conference dinner.

I asked the ERC if Sir Tim Hunt had left the session early and what time it finished. They replied in a statement:

The ERC hosted the session with Tim Hunt and two ERC grantees in Seoul on 9 June 2015 from 16:00 to 17:30.  The session went according to the programme (https://www.wcsj2015.or.kr:447/wcsj2015/program/program.php#url). Tim Hunt opened this session and stayed until the end of it at 17:30.

I made a follow-up inquiry about the interview:

We can confirm that he had a short interview with a journalist after this session.

This fit exactly with what Sir Tim Hunt and Mary Collins were saying.

This then is the point – before I progress to some speculation. It is a simple fact that Sir Tim Hunt was not at the “Sexism in Science” session as Deborah Blum reported that he was. It is a fact that Deborah Blum inferred a refusal of Sir Tim to explain himself to “journalists”. It is a fact that she both believed and reported based on nothing other than gossip and rumour that Sir Tim Hunt refused to respond at that sexism in science panel. Remember, Deborah Blum replied “that is correct” to the following:

he was asked next day at a talk to explain during a Q&A and didn’t respond. Subject came up in next day’s science & sexism panel Q&A. Tim in audience. He did not respond.

Deborah Blum not only verified this account, which was in her original Storify of 14th of June, as a fact, she embellished it with more detail:

That’s correct. Was raised by a journalist also in the audience.

She also confirmed that it was indeed the “sexism in science” session and she again, as in her Storify of 14th June, went to un-checked, unverified, flat wrong, “witnesses” to prove her accusation:

Yes, that [Sexism in Science] was the one. His appearance discussed by a number of journalists afterwards.

So let us get this straight: Sir Tim Hunt was never there, Deborah Blum accused him falsely, her Storify was false, Hunt was never blanking journalists at a Sexism in Science session with his two persecutors herself and Connie St. Louis.

He. Wasn’t. There.

And there goes all the credibility of Deborah Blum’s Tim Hunt journalism. Positive proof she false reported, didn’t check, passed on rumours, and falsely accused a decent man based on her own confirmation bias. What value to place on any of Deborah Blum’s anonymous “witnesses” and unnamed backers? She didn’t check and published a complete lie.

What do the scientists at MIT think now?

Speculation on a Possible Source of the Tim Hunt Gossip

I can offer some pure speculation as to the source of this sloppiness, this false accusation by a BBC producer and an MIT/ Knight Science journalism professional. If indeed their story was not wholly invented, here is one possibility. I want to emphasise that if this guess is wrong it does not affect the truth of the story here – Deborah Blum falsely reported, without checks, against Sir Tim Hunt – as did Sue Nelson, a producer for the BBC – taking rumour as fact.

But, and again with a note that I label this as mere speculation – the scientist @Shubclimate on Twitter pointed me to some photographs of the WFSJ’s own Ron Winslow, a respected science journalist at the Wall Street Journal.

He appears to have been at the Tim Hunt lunch, where Sir Tim wore a plain blue shirt, and Mr. Winslow an Hawaiian shirt. The next day, Sir Tim wore an Hawaiian shirt all day long, and Mr. Winslow wore a blue one.


Above, Mr. Winslow, it has been suggested, at Sir Tim’s lunch. Sir Tim wore a plain blue shirt to the lunch, as we see below:

hunt jokes


The next day, Mr. Winslow wore a plain blue shirt. This photograph was taken at lunchtime on the 9th:

_MG_0766 (1)

Sir Tim, however, wore an Hawaiian shirt all day. I was looking for this distinctive shirt in photos of the “Sexism in Science” audience.  I did not see it. But, at the very back of the “sexism in science” audience – as described by Sue Nelson who had discussed it with Blum – a man in a blue shirt with a hairline that looked like Mr. Winslow’s. Upon enlarging the photo, this man is wearing glasses.


I have emailed Mr. Winslow to ask if he attended the “Sexism in Science” session. He was organising the US/SF bid for WCSJ 2017 with Cristine Russell, of MIT, who was on the panel. And it certainly may not be him – no man may ever have “entered late” at all. Of course, if it is Mr. Winslow, he cannot be blamed for Deborah Blum’s false reporting. Until this week we did not know she referred to the sexism in science panel when she claimed “Journalists who were at #timhunt lunch asked him about his statements, gave him a chance to clarify.”

Whoever the man was – if there was a man – he didn’t answer any questions, or speak up, on the Tim Hunt lunch speech because he was not, in fact, Sir Tim Hunt.

As the debate about the dueling speaker sessions raged on, Deborah Blum finally stepped away from her assertions of fact about this  – in late October, five months after she made this accusation against Sir Tim Hunt in her Storify. ‘I was at the front of the room and didnt see him. Lots of buzz at the back about him being there. All I know,’ Blum said to Professor Collins.

But that wasn’t what she said.

And it wasn’t what she reported.

And it wasn’t what she told us was true.

And MIT and the Knight Science Foundation’s staff, at their own session on “sexism in science”, simply misreported, as fact, that Sir Tim Hunt was there – he wasn’t. She reported as fact that “Journalists who were at lunch questioned him about his statements, gave him a chance to clarify.”

This was flat wrong. It was simply invented. And it imputed a terrible lack of engagement to Sir Tim Hunt that he would refuse this at a sexism in science session.

Whereas, the truth was, Sir Tim Hunt was at – you might say – a feminism in science session, where he stayed throughout the session presentations of two female recipients of Europe’s top research grant by two actual female scientists.

Ms. Blum is now involved in an MIT commercial initiative in science journalism called “Undark.” Will she “undark” her rumour-based misreporting about the Nobel prize winning, cancer-fighting biochemist, Sir Tim Hunt, 72, a lifelong ally of women in science?

Undark that one, MIT.



  • correction – a commenter below points out that Blum was a Professor of Journalism T Wisconsin but at MIT is only an admin as a Director of the Knight Science Program. I am happy to spare MIT’s blushes in this respect. They have enough bad connections in the Tim Hunt story coming. This blog was first going to be about that, but then when I discovered “Schroedinger’s Tim Hunt” I could not bury the lede, even to examine the conflict of interest

ABSW: Complaint against other Board Members over Sir Tim Hunt

Sir Colin Blakemore, the distinguished scientist, has been the President of the Association of British Science Writers,  or ABSW, for eleven years. Earlier this month he resigned, dramatically, as the Association’s President over both its Board’s June statement of support for Connie St. Louis, and its refusal to investigate his complaint against her. Earlier, I published my complaint against Connie St. Louis which the Association has acknowledged. Now however I write up my formal complaints against Martin Ince, Bob Ward and the rest of the Board.

Part One: Formal complaint against President of ABSW, Martin Ince

Martin Ince, the President of the Association, announced Sir Colin Blakemore’s resignation in a short statement on the website. That statement is itself a piece of misreporting against Sir Tim Hunt. It is utterly without foundation to say Sir Tim has not disputed Connie St. Louis’ reporting. He has; and he does. The ABSW President has no right to misrepresent Sir Tim in this way. Further, I complain that his statement – short though it is – contains other errors of fact, and that he has assisted in falsely attacking the work of a fellow journalist, Guy Adams, in the name of the Association.

Mr. Ince’s misreporting of Sir Tim Hunt

As ABSW members will know already, this relates to her reporting of remarks to the Korea Federation of Women’s Science and Technology Associations by Sir Tim Hunt at the World Conference of Science Journalists in Seoul on June 8. Sir Tim has not disputed the accuracy of St Louis’s reporting and has apologised to the Federation for his comments.

As a matter of fact, Sir Tim Hunt never addressed “the Korea [sic] Federation….”. He addressed a lunch for journalists that was merely sponsored by the Federation, of whom barely a handful attended. The lunch was in honour of female scientists but was for journalists and the heads of journalism associations. Every WCSJ journalist in receipt of a travel grant received an invite and others present were heads of journalism associations. This repeats the canard that Sir Tim said something offensive to a roomful of women scientists. Basic journalism should have the President of a Journalists’ Association check his facts.



It also inaccurate to say Sir Tim “apologised for his comments.” He never used the word comments. His apology for his remarks was very clear in that he stated that he was sorry for making a self-deprecating joke that had been misunderstood. “Apologised for his joke” would be accurate. Sir Tim gave a toast of between 2-3 minutes and insisted it was a joke, something St. Louis denied, and which his apology to KOFWST reinforces:

I accept that my attempts at a self-deprecating joke were ill-judged and not in the least bit funny.

Now to Mr. Ince’s more serious piece of misreporting, which carries great weight as it is an ABSW statement on the Association’s website:

Sir Tim has not disputed the accuracy of St Louis’s reporting

This was false. Sir Tim Hunt always disputed the reporting of Connie St. Louis. Sir Tim Hunt said ‘What I said was quite accurately reported,’ on the Today Show on Radio 4, which is a reference to the 39 words that Ms. St. Louis claimed he said. Mr. Ince, and the ABSW, must be relying on this phrase as support for St. Louis reporting as a whole, but they cannot do so.

For Sir Tim also disputes her reporting, rather than her partial quotes, throughout that exact same broadcast and the ABSW President cannot cherry pick. Here I highlight the dispute in different colours so even the ABSW Board can’t miss it:

On the Today Show, Sir Tim says he was joking , and that he was being ironic. He says he did not thank the women for lunch, St. Louis claims it was Tim Hunt thanked the women for making his lunch. Incidentally she wrongly reported this based on a tweet she misunderstood then stuck to her false story:

connie scott watkins J


St. Louis said the lunch was “utterly ruined” in her tweet. Sir Tim, in the Observer, denied that report saying nobody seemed upset. St. Louis on the Today Show said that after Sir Tim Hunt was finished, “there was this deathly, deathly silence.” Tim Hunt in the Observer said he finished to “polite applause”.

Therefore, and as a simple matter of fact, Sir Tim Hunt disputed aspects of St. Louis reporting in the same show where she made them, the show from which Mr. Ince cherry-picks a phrase – while ignoring all the other disputes of St. Louis’ reporting Sir Tim has made.

Sir Tim disputed her reporting to the Guardian on the same day, stating

I certainly did not mean to demean women, but rather be honest about my own shortcomings.

That disputes St. Louis’ reporting. Further, Sir Tim disputed St. Louis reporting again once the EU transcript leaked, and he used the word “report” as he did so, to the Observer on June 13:

Crucially, Hunt said, he then added the words, “now seriously” before going on to praise the role of women in science and in Korean society. “The words ‘now seriously’ make it very clear that I was making a joke, albeit a very bad one, but they were not mentioned in the first reports and I was deluged with hate mail,” Hunt said.

Those ‘first reports’ include that of Connie St. Louis.

And the ABSW mis-statement is the more serious yet since Connie St Louis herself acknowledges in her heavily edited Guardian article that Sir Tim Hunt is disputing her reporting.

Hunt now claims he added the words “now seriously” before going on to praise the role of women in science and in Korean society. “The words ‘now seriously’ make it very clear that I was making a joke, albeit a very bad one, but they were not mentioned in the first reports and I was deluged with hate mail,” Hunt said. He did not say this, nor did he praise the role of women in science and in Korean society. I wish he had; things would have been so much better.

So we see here that using the same quote I have pulled out for you from the Observer, referring to ‘now seriously,’ Mrs. St. Louis herself agrees that this disputes her reporting and she writes a whole article to fight back again.

When this ABSW statement appeared I asked if Professor Collins, Sir Tim Hunt’s wife, would correct Mr. Ince. She did so and repeatedly stated that the reporting of Connie St. Louis is disputed. She publicly asked St. Louis for an apology. But the ABSW has, nonetheless, not removed its false statement.

I complain that this is simple dereliction by the entire Board of the Association. They attribute something wrong to Sir Tim Hunt and they have not corrected it even when it is pointed out to them that they are wrong. Defending St. Louis is the subject of my other complaint. But when an Association of Science Writers complain that a leading scientist does not dispute the reporting of one of its leading members, and that scientist does dispute her reporting, to remain credible the Association must correct that false statement against Sir Tim, which is not that of Connie St. Louis, but the Association’s own.

Part Two: Complaint against Mr. Bob Ward.

The second ABSW Board Member I complain formally against is Mr. Bob Ward. He solicited my complaints against St. Louis be sent to him. Why should he do so when a complaint is to the Association and he has displayed a long-standing public bias in the matter?

If you want to make a formal complaint, email me on r.e.ward@lse.ac.uk

Mr. Ward has displayed public bias and has no right to pre-judge any complaint that is to the Association as a whole.

He, replying to me, falsely accused the leading woman scientist in the United Kingdom, Professor Dame Athene Donald FRS, President of the British Science Association, Master of Churchill College Cambridge, of “explicitly refus[ing] to submit a formal complaint” merely because she had not yet done so.

. Incorrect. has explicitly refused to submit a formal complaint.

Athene J

Even when Prof. Dame Athene corrected Ward several times, he refused either to retract or to alter his tweet.

Stop misrepresenting me, @ret_ward @ABSW. I said I’m not complaining AT THIS POINT as my email made clear – and why


It would be helpful if you would respond to my email rather than put out inaccurate and misleading tweets



Thank you for confirming that you have not submitted a formal complaint.

If you read your email you’d know that was truth NOT that I had refused- distortions do not help

I explicitly invited you to submit a formal complaint. You explicitly did not.

I have not yet done so. I have not refused

This is false reporting of Dame Athene’s position in an important matter, and it is also bias in the matter of Connie St. Louis. We can have no confidence in the legal requirement for ABSW to observe its standing orders if Mr. Ward is involved. I complain of serial misreporting, serial inaccuracy and wrongful attacks on the whistle-blowing work of the journalist Guy Adams:

Video shows last few seconds: Tim Hunt and some in audience think it is funny to be a self-confessed “chauvinistic monster”.

There is no video and the words used as quotes by Ward are not only nowhere in the audio recording, but nowhere in any of the reports as a quote

Tim Hunt does not deny his remarks or his male chauvinism, so why are you attacking the female journalist?

Sir Tim Hunt has denied St. Louis report of his remarks as partial and has never said in earnest that he is “chauvinist”, always insisting that he was being ironic:

you are applauding a hatchet job by a male journalist on a female journalist who reported sexist comments?

This tweet refers to Guy Adams’ entirely correct work on Connie St. Louis falsely and it implies Mr. Adams is a sexist:

Also untrue. Her Mail article had been commissioned when her CV was written but later pulled.


. And I am not an academic. Why not retract your false story and apologise?


. Where is your evidence she lied? Because you had a quick look and could not find her articles?

In fact Mr. Adams had searched databases and pulled press clippings going back decades. Mr. Ward cannot adduce any evidence whatsoever against Mr. Adams reporting on her CV. Ms. St. Louis did indeed ‘hound Sir Tim Hunt out of his job’ demanding the Royal Society, who had already put out a statement, go further and take action against him.

connie hound

Connie St. Louis was utterly explicit in her article for scientific American blogs that she intended to force the Royal Society to take action against Sir Tim:

I didn’t just call out Hunt in that first tweet, however, but also the Royal Society, the U.K.’s national academy of science, where he is a fellow. Sexual inequality in the STEM fields continues in part because the Society continues to take very little action. The British government has tasked the Society with addressing the enormous inequality experienced by women in science, and it receives vast amounts of taxpayer money to do this and other key science tasks. So a comment from the organization was needed. Yet the morning after my first tweet, the Society merely flagged its diversity initiatives but said nothing of Hunt’s comment. It was clearly inadequate, and I said so

Further, St. Louis retweeted comments attacking the Royal Society for keeping Hunt as a Fellow (!) and calling for complaints against him to the ERC where he held a post:

blum erc J

still fellow J

Mr. Adams was therefore entirely correct to say St. Louis hounded Hunt and he was also correct on her false CV on which she stood for election to the WFSJ, thereby cheating another candidate of a place on the Board in a fair election.

Mr. Ince and Mr. Ward should have no part in judging complaints against Ms. St. Louis. Indeed, the entire ABSW Board looks to have a conflict of interest given that they were all party to the statement in June, and I request that they seek a independent journalists from among their ranks who have no friendship or acquaintance with St. Louis and who has not made any public statement – blog comment, tweet, Facebook post or otherwise – against Sir Tim Hunt.

I further request an apology to Sir Tim Hunt over the false statement that he has not disputed the reporting of Connie St. Louis and a correction of this false statement on the ABSW’s website.




ABSW: Complaint Against Connie St. Louis over Tim Hunt, Erika Wright and her C.V.


We are saddened that such untrue claims about a well-regarded producer’s professional integrity have been made and published, and we strongly reject any allegation that the proper and normal processes weren’t followed around the 2002 award entry. Erika Wright made the award-winning radio programme and entered it for the awards under her name which was normal practice in the Science Unit at the time. With good grace she shared the prize with Mrs St. Louis afterwards, which again at the time was common practice.

The BBC’s second statement on Connie St. Louis’ false accusations against Erika Wright – emphasis mine. In response to a question they made clear that ‘shared the prize’ referred to the prize money, not to named credit or the award for the prize itself, so that there was no need and no moral requirement for Erika Wright to ask ABSW to “add [Connie’s] name to the prize


In this blog – because I do not trust the Board of ABSW, and because I want transparency, I lay out the substance of the letter of complaint I am submitting to ABSW against Connie St. Louis. I will later blog up a second less important letter complaining of the conduct and conflict of interests of ABSW board members Martin Ince (President), Bob Ward, and Natasha Loder and asking ABSW to appoint independent members who are not conflicted and have no friendship with Connie St. Louis to judge my serious complaints against her. In particular, those three can have no part in judging complaints against her as they have all been active against Sir Tim and in her defence online.

As an aside, it’s become clear that, as a journalist told me “real journos don’t join these things”. ABSW has a big-sounding name but a mere 139 members total, I believe. The business of people like Connie St. Louis is not science journalism but conferences about science journalism which are owned and run by pretendy organizations with big-sounding names like “the Association of British Science Writers” that actually have less than 200 people in them.

My letter of formal complaint against Connie St. Louis

Standing Order 16 of the ABSW rules provides for a complaint against a member for

“Wilful or frequent misrepresentation or inaccuracy.”

Connie St. Louis has done this in the following ways:

1. She falsely accused a fellow science journalist of ethics breaches, in a for-publication email that she specifically requested be published. The nature of her false accusation involved the ABSW’s own prize. Connie St. Louis, therefore, not only lied about her fellow journalist but abused her position as an ABSW board member and former prize judge. The ABSW must rebut this false allegation about its own prize and slander of the sole winner, listed on its own website.

2. Ms. St. Louis falsely embellished her own CV, stood for election to international journalism associations on a false CV, and described herself falsely on the WCSJ 2015 brochure where she was listed as one of only three keynote speakers, in a conference for which other journalists paid money to attend. She also attacked the journalist who wrote the accurate piece about her falsifications. She further blamed City University, rather than herself, for the fact that her false CV was on their website. She further wrongfully stated that the CV was merely “out of date” when in fact, the fake achievements listed were simply invented.

3. Ms. St. Louis knowingly misreported on Sir Tim Hunt and, upon being proven to have falsely reported many elements of her story, did not retract them.

Part One: Ms. St. Louis falsely accused another science journalist of moral and ethical breaches in a for-publication email to the Times: and copied in the NUJ to that slander

Ms. St. Louis claims, wrongly, that she won the ABSW prize for “Life As a Teenager” in 2002 (and later that she should be named as a winner on the award). The BBC producer Erika Wright was the sole winner of the award.

Generously, upon being asked by the Times about her false claim to have won the award, Ms. Wright (I assume) replied via the BBC that

“The awarding of the prize was in the producer’s name, but Connie was involved and as such it would not seem unreasonable for her to put it on her CV.”

To an email in which she was shown this kind response from a reporter at the Times, Ms. St. Louis wrote, (and, in order that Ms. Wright not be libeled, I emphasize that these allegations are wholly untrue, completely false and utter rubbish):

 For the first time the producer in the science unit Erika Wright broke with the traditional and ethically  way that programmes from the science unit we’re entered for the Glaxo smith Kline / ABSW  prize and submitted the programmes that were jointly made just in her name. She  realised that this was wrong and she  recognised my contribution as presenter and writer of the scripts for the programme and we shared and divided the prize. However, she neglected to ask the organisers  to add my name to the prize.
 These are two false accusations. First, that Erika Wright unethically and immorally altered the normal process of submission to claim sole credit. Secondly, that Ms. Wright – in subsequent years an ABSW prize judge – had wrongly not changed the name on the award.
I complain that not only did Ms. St. Louis slander Ms. Wright in a for-publication email to the Times, she slandered her to the National Union of Journalists, as she copied in Michelle Stanistreet at the NUJ. In so doing she attacked the career and integrity of Ms. Wright, as the BBC’s second statement, below, makes clear.

The BBC issued a statement which I wrote about in a blog

We are unaware of these allegations. Any suggestion that the proper process wasn’t followed around the 2002 award is untrue.

In the comments under that blog, the academic Paula Higgins appears to imply that she was in touch with Ms. St. Louis and that Ms. St. Louis did “all the work” “Connie did all the real work” on the series. I ask ABSW to enquire of St. Louis if she said this to Higgins. Updated: Higgins refused to answer this on my blog when asked directly, but now denies that she emailed St. Louis. I shall mention this when I write my second letter of complaint to save the Association asking the question.

Upon hearing that I was going to write up my complaint against Ms. St. Louis to the ABSW, on the matter of her false accusation against Erika Wright, the BBC contacted me – not the other way around – with a further statement that they asked me to publish in full. I do so here.

“We are saddened that such untrue claims about a well-regarded producer’s professional integrity have been made and published, and we strongly reject any allegation that the proper and normal processes weren’t followed around the 2002 award entry. Erika Wright made the award-winning radio programme and entered it for the awards under her name which was normal practice in the Science Unit at the time. With good grace she shared the prize with Mrs St. Louis afterwards, which again at the time was common practice.”

I note that the BBC have confirmed to me that by ‘shared the prize’ it is meant the money received for the prize – not the award or prize itself. Therefore, Ms. St. Louis should stop, at once, describing herself as the ‘winner’ of the ABSW prize for Life as a Teenager. While it is clearly fair that she mentions her involvement with this prize-winning series and contribution to it, she did not win the ABSW prize for it.

I also complain that Ms. St. Louis has changed her stance regarded ‘Life as a Teenager’. She describes it as part of her presenting career, only, here. On her listing as a speaker for WCSJ 2011 St. Louis distinguishes between shows she produced and presented and shows she only produced, including the “Life As” series

Her most recent programme on BBC Radio 4 which she produced and presented, investigated the use of racially targeted designer drugs by pharmaceutical companies. She also presented the landmark Radio 4 series ‘Life as’ which charted the science of life before birth until death.

PART TWO – Connie St. Louis invented experience and qualifications on her CV, and ran for the WFSJ Board on that basis

I complain that Connie St. Louis embellished her CV with a number of false statements and then insulted the journalist who uncovered this wrongdoing.

She falsely claimed to have written for the Mail, the Independent, and the Sunday Times – she has never written for any of them. Tweets from the conflicted ABSW Board Member Bob Ward indicate that her excuse is she was commissioned by the Mail but it was then dropped. That does not mean “written” for a paper, even if she can adduce a piece and a kill fee.

In her CV submitted to the World Federation of Science Journalists, Ms. St. Louis omits the Daily Mail whereas she includes it in her City London CV. This shows she herself was altering her CV and was paying attention to it. I am not placing a link to her WFSJ CV itself, rather than her cover letter, in this blog as it contains her address. However I shall link to it in my email of complaint to ABSW. Quotations in this blog are from that CV.

She falsely claims to be a scientist. Ms. St Louis has a degree in biology from Hatfield Polytechnic but the commonly understood term ‘scientist’ means one who practices science or has a career in science.

She falsely claimed membership of the Royal Institution was a “qualification”. It is a charity/ museum where anybody can pay a fee to be a ‘member’ and have tea in a café. I submit that this  is the more serious as her CV was listed for the World Federation of Science Journalists to stand as a Board Member, and foreign journalists are likely to have been deceived by the words ‘Royal Institution’.

From that CV: Under “Qualification and training”

I am a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (since 2000) and a Member of Royal Institution (2009) the Association of British Science Writers (since 1990) and The Radio Academy ((since 1990)

Guy Adams article contains this quotation about Ms. St. Louis’ use of the Royal Institution from its own spokesman:

‘Anyone can be a member. It’s simply a service you pay for which entitles you to free tickets to visit us and gives you a discount in our cafe. It’s like having membership of your local cinema or gym.’

Why would someone include such a thing on their CV?

Actually, that’s a bit of a problem,’ the spokesman added. ‘We have heard of a few people using membership on their CV to imply that they have some sort of professional recognition or qualification. But it means nothing of the sort. It’s very, very odd to see this on a CV.’

Ms. St. Louis falsely claimed to have secured the “first interview with Bill Gates” in the UK. That is wholly untrue and the achievement of another journalist, Roger White, in 1993.

And I successfully coerced Bill Gates C.E.O. Microsoft obtaining his first British interview to launch the series.

Ms. St. Louis interviewed Bill Gates a year after Roger White interviewed him. Even in 1994 there was an earlier Bill Gates interview, producers the journalists Stephen Arkell and John Wyver. And that is for broadcast journalism.

The first print interview in the UK of Bill Gates was in September 1988, by the journalist Alan Cane of the Financial Times who met with him for the newspaper’s “Monday Interview”. Other journalists who interviewed Bill Gates long before Connie St. Louis include John Morely in 1992 and Deborah Wise in 1992.

Ms. St. Louis therefore falsely claims as her achievement something that belongs to the journalists Roger White as far as broadcast media goes, and Alan Cane as far as print media and being the overall first person to interview Mr. Gates.

Alan Cane Bill Gates J

The links to all of these have been given to me by the journalist Guy Adams of the Daily Mail, whose important work exposing the falsehoods on Ms. St. Louis’ CV has been slandered by the Association as a “personal attack”. I have re-read Mr. Adams piece and there are no personal attacks anywhere in it.

In addition there are embellishments to her CV so great as to amount to deception:

She claimed to be a ‘regular contributor’ to an American program that last broadcast six years ago. Her own last contribution was in 2006, nine years ago.

I am a regular contributor to ABC News Worldview TV programme.


She claimed she produces a whole range of programmes for Radio 4, using the present tense;  the last programme she was involved in finished in 2008.

She claimed on-going involvement with government programs that had ended:

She claimed to be a ‘research scientist’.

Then Ms. St. Louis wrongfully attacked the journalist, Guy Adams, whose meticulous work exposed these falsehoods. This was wrong. She further claimed that her CV was merely ‘out of date’. This was false. It was not ‘out of date’ it was wrong because she listed things on it that were false; writing for the Times, the Mail (at all), membership of the ‘Royal Institution’, and achieving the first ever UK interview with Bill Gates.

She claimed to the WCSJ 2015 that she was an “award-winning freelancing [sic] journalist, broadcaster and scientist.” This is untrue.

I complain that in standing for election on a falsified CV  – and Martin Ince of the ABSW wrote her a letter of recommendation – Connie St. Louis cheated the fourth-placed candidate Oliver Dessibourg of a place on the WFSJ Board.

Finally, Ms. St. Louis wrongfully blamed City University London for having her false CV on its website. It was never an ‘out of date’ CV but always a CV on which she herself had listed non-existent experience and “qualifications”. Ms. St. Louis told the Times in her for-publication email:

Thank you for your text. I am away on holiday. My cv has not been changed. The information that was put on the website by the university was part of online profile trial it was inaccurate and scraped from places that were old and inaccurate. I had no Idea that this incorrect information was publicly available until I was asked about it last month. This information was removed as soon as possible.This profile is in the form of that the university stipulates. It is the first time I have written a profile for the university website. I have removed the classification of my degree to fit in with this format. I have an upper second degree.

It was false that Ms. St. Louis described the information as “old and inaccurate” she had submitted that false information to the WFSJ and run for election on it in this very year. So that was a lie.

I complain that it is wrong for Ms. St. Louis to blame City University London for the false statements in her now-altered CV. If the information was “inaccurate”and “scraped from places that were old and inaccurate” this is the fault of Ms. St. Louis herself. It was she who claimed to have written for the Sunday Times and the Mail, she who claimed to have the first interview with Bill Gates.

Part Three: Connie St. Louis Falsely Reported on Sir Tim Hunt.

Connie St. Louis’ reporting of Sir Tim Hunt’s toast in Seoul is comprised, so far as I know, of the following sources: Her first and subsequent tweets on the matter, her interview with the Today Show on Radio Four, her interview with BBC Breakfast Television, her interview with France 24 on June 29, her blog for Scientific American blogs and her article for the Guardian.

When I complain of misreporting, I shall do with a link to the source in which the misreport occurs.

1. Connie St. Louis did not report the whole of Sir Tim Hunt’s speech; she quoted him partially and intentionally misleadingly.

2. Connie St. Louis falsely stated that she could independently verify her quotes because Ivan Oransky had been writing his down at the same time ‘unbeknownst to me.’ Not only were she and Oransky seated at the same table close to each other, Oransky denies this in a podcast.

…Ivan Oransky, who I’d been sitting next to. Unbeknown to each other we had written down what we had heard Hunt say at the lunch. Our quotes were identical, which meant we could independently verify the story

Whereas Mr. Oransky denied that flatly:

Ivan Oransky: But right afterward, we said, you know, “Look, we have to do something about this. Let’s compare notes on what we heard”, as we hadn’t taken notes, and – wasn’t that kind of a luncheon, where, you know, we were reporting on it.

Oransky further told Buzzfeed that all their recollections were written “post-hoc” and could not be treated as quotes:

several science journalists created a “post-hoc transcript,” Ivan Oransky…told BuzzFeed …“I wouldn’t treat them as quotes, per se, given the circumstances, but they’re the words he used.”

It is a serious misrepresentation, and lie, to claim that another journalist had written down “what he heard Tim Hunt say at the lunch” “unbeknownst to me” – even though they were at the *same table* in order to make her own reporting seem more authoritative – this “meant we could independently verify the story.”

As an Association of Science Writers you ought to condemn this utter falsehood about Oransky and their reporting  – Oransky said he “wouldn’t treat them as quotes” and “we hadn’t taken notes”.

3. Connie St. Louis falsely stated that Sir Tim Hunt began his speech by ‘thanking the women for making lunch’ and then ‘thanking the women for making lunch because that was their role.’ All other witnesses deny this. Further, it is clear that she was not paying attention at the start of Sir Tim’s toast. Photographs show She had her translator earpiece in and on France 24 she stated she did not even know who was speaking.

My first thought was “Goodness me, what is that English person doing, saying these really outrageous things? I’m so embarrassed -all the way in Korea and here I am, listening to these ridiculous comments being made by a British man.” And then I suddenly realised he was Tim Hunt

4. Connie St. Louis falsely stated to the BBC that Sir Tim was not joking

I didn’t think they were intended as a joke, at all. I’d just like to say that they – you know, he went on for at least five to seven minutes

but admitted that she knew, in advance, that he was joking, because she said and tweeted that he had been ‘asked not to joke’ by hosts at the top table.

His guests had already told him not to go down this ha-ha route

She later tweeted:

he was asked not to joke about subject when he stood by hosts at his table and ignored them

This is extremely serious misreporting, as she insisted that Sir Tim supported, in seriousness, sex-segregated laboratories, whilst knowing in advance that he had intended to joke and been warned off it.

5. Connie St. Louis falsely stated that ‘after he was finished’ ‘there was this deathly silence. Very clearly, nobody was laughing’ and ‘everybody was stony-faced.’ Audio and photographs show this to be false.

hunt jokes

Further, not only did many people in the audience enjoy Sir Tim’s toast, Ms. St. Louis was sat at the same table as both the author of the EU report and the Korean woman scientist to which it refers who praised the toast as ‘warm and funny’. St. Louis knew, not only had plenty in that room laughed, smiled and  enjoyed the toast,  but people at her own table had done so.

It is not disputed that several people were offended by Sir Tim’s joke; several more thought it a faux-pas, but were not offended by it; and still others enjoyed it and laughed at it. Ms. St. Louis, however, falsely reported universal offence.

1. Nobody was laughing.


2. And so this – after he’d finished, there was this deathly, deathly silence.


3. And so, very clearly nobody was laughing, there was a room full of a hundred people, nobody was laughing, everybody was stony-faced. 


4. people expressing the same sort of frustration as I and the other 100 people that were in the room

6. Connie St. Louis falsely claimed, and one might call this racist at worst and condescending at best, that none of the eyewitnesses who disagreed with her account ‘spoke English.’

Eyewitness English J


Ms. Shiow Chin Tan from Malaysia, Ms. Natalia Demina from Russia and others who disagreed with her, such as Mr. Timothy Dimacali from the Philippines, and Mr. Pere Estupinya from Spain, all speak perfect English. As Ms. Tan said

I write for an English daily

And Mr. Dimacali said:

I speak perfect English, thank you very much.

And Ms. Demina said:

I am surprised to read Connie’s answers, as if we were in different Luncheons. Many people laughed and applauded!… I saw words about deadly scilence and stone faces in Connie SL report. That wasn’t true, people reacted quite differently. I remember that me and those who sat with me (men and women) laughed and applauded. For us it was a joke!

And Mr. Estupinya emailed me:

did St Louis really said that there was a deadly silence?
wow… that’s truly false.

7. Connie St Louis falsely claimed that Sir Tim’s toast went ‘on and on’ for ‘at least five to seven minutes’ when photographs and audio data prove his brief toast was between two and three minutes long. She has never corrected herself on this point.

8. Connie St. Louis falsely reported, in her article for the Guardian, that Sir Tim Hunt had not praised women in science. Not only do all accounts including Deborah Blum’s disagree with her, the audio tape that has emerged contains the words ‘So congratulations, everybody’ which must clearly have been preceded with some praise of women in science for which he was congratulating them. Despite the emergence of the tape, she has, again, not retracted this false element of her reporting and it is a serious one; she maintained in her Guardian piece that Sir Tim had offered no positive praise of women whatsoever  in his toast and that, if he had done, it would have altered matters completely. The words “…so, congratulations, everybody” prove that there was praise of women in science or science journalism in his speech.

Hunt now claims, he …praise[d] the role of women in science and in Korean society. …He did not …praise the role of women in science and in Korean society. I wish he had said, [sic] things would have been so much better.

St. Louis was malicious in claiming Hunt did not praise women in science as she endorsed accounts by Deborah Blum which openly stated that he had done so.

9. Connie St. Louis tweeted out TWICE, calling it “perfect” and “correct” and thereby endorsing it, a revolting comic that portrayed Sir Tim Hunt, in an ageist way, acting as a racist and a sexist. This is personal abuse of the most vicious kind and is ageism and slander.

TH comic 2 JTH comic 1 J

10. Connie St. Louis continued falsely to report on Twitter by claiming that Sir Tim Hunt and his wife Professor Mary Collins endorsed her reporting and refusing to withdraw this wrong claim when Professor Collins corrected her. Professor Collins said:

partial quote, missing context and meaning. poor reporting IMO. I would like you to apologise for selective quoting, ignoring meaning, thanks

11. Connie St. Louis compounded her wholly false reporting by lobbying the Royal Society to take action against Sir Tim Hunt.

And so I immediately started to ask his organisation that he’s a Fellow of, the Royal Society, which is the national academy of science in the UK: “So, what are you going to do about a Fellow that says these kind of things, abroad?”

I request that an independent investigation into the false reporting by Ms. St Louis against Erika Wright and Sir Tim Hunt take place; that the ABSW confirm that Erika Wright is the sole winner of the award for ‘Life as a Teenager’; that the ABSW formally recognize that the BBC is the submitting body in terms of the prize and that the BBC has stated in terms that no ethics breach was committed by Erika Wright – either in the application or in not altering the name on the prize; and that the ABSW committee examine the points I have raised about Ms. St. Louis’ false reporting of Sir Tim Hunt most particularly her claims that he was not joking when she admits she knew in advance he suggested the joke to his hosts and was warned off it, and also, her false claim and non-retraction of the statement that Sir Tim did not praise women in science at all even when the words ‘so congratulations’ everybody appear in the audio; and her other false statements of no laughter, deadly silence, stony faces, and so forth.

I also request that the ABSW alter its false statement saying that Sir Tim Hunt has not disputed the reporting of Connie St. Louis. He did so in every statement he ever gave on the matter in the ways that I have listed in my other letter of complaint about Martin Ince. ‘What I said’ is not the equivalent to ‘all aspects of her reporting’ and Sir Tim disputes the latter in the very broadcast ABSW cites to prove its claim.

I also request that the ABSW review its procedures for Board members, and the ABSW, disclosing conflicts of interest, and issuing statements that represent the entire society without taking a vote of the membership.

I also request the ABSW apologise to Sir Tim Hunt for its false statement that he has not disputed the reporting of Connie St. Louis.

Yours sincerely,

Louise Mensch



The Myth of the Tim Hunt “Transcript”

Contemporary eyewitness accounts, plus a partial transcript, of what Sir Tim Hunt said during his brief toast in Seoul:

Thank you. I say something about the importance and value of women in science [acc Deborah Blum]. I also pay tribute to the capable female scientists I know, including name and name, by saying some nice things about them [acc Deborah Blum]. And I now acknowledge the contribution made by female science journalists. [acc Shai Panela]. It’s strange that such a chauvinist monster like me has been asked to speak to women scientists. Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. Three things happen when they are in the lab: you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them they cry. Perhaps we should make separate labs for boys and girls? But if we had separate labs, men would be the worse off for it! [acc Shiow Chin Tan] Now seriously, I’m impressed by the economic development of Korea. And women scientists played, without doubt an important role in it. Science needs women and you should do science despite all the obstacles. So, congratulations, everybody, and I hope – I hope – I hope – I really do hope there is nothing holding you back, especially not monsters like me.” Laughter, clapping[acc: a recording by Natalia Demina: literally the only words for which there exists an actual transcript] 


If there is one thing my reporting on the Connie St. Louis scandal in Seoul has taught me, it is that eyewitness memory is fallible.

And ‘fallible’ is putting it kindly.

As the Tim Hunt story passes into its final stages, with Sir Tim cleared, and his reputation restored – he’s no sexist, he’s a lifelong supporter of women – there is one little bugbear I have to try my best to clear up.

There is no transcript of Sir Tim Hunt’s remarks in Seoul.

Of the two dueling versions of his brief joke – Connie St. Louis’ and the EU observer, who, allow me to tell you all now, sat at Connie’s own table with Ivan Oransky – it is, perhaps, a sign of general public anger at the obvious misreporting of Blum, Oransky and St. Louis that has allowed the “EU transcript” to seep into public consciousness. It’s cited BTL in comments on Sir Colin Blakemore’s resignation over ABSW’s refusal to investigate St. Louis; it’s cited in Tim Hunt’s Wikipedia entry – it’s cited everywhere.

But it’s wrong. And that is fundamental. It is closer to the truth than St. Louis’ version, sure, but that doesn’t make it true. Why does this matter? Because journalism studies, and scientists, think that they can judge Hunt fairly if they take as read that what he said is what was reported by the EU observer – who was more favourable to him by not only reporting half of his toast.

But, again, that is not the case. And it speaks to my fundamental point about what happened when Sir Tim Hunt made a joke against himself at a lunch in Seoul. Nobody recorded it in full; nobody can be quite sure what he said; the accounts contradict; there is no proof of a goddamned thing except for the photographs and audio of the very end of the speech.

So when you have no proof of any specific words said, many conflicting accounts, and a lot of provably false embellishments – then you shouldn’t act in a hasty way and demand his resignation from all that matters to him, in order to virtue signal your own commitment to liberal values.

Because that is, in fact, not liberal. It is not feminist. It is not truthful. It is not just. It is not evidence-based. It is not, to quote Deborah Blum’s vicious Daily Beast pack of lies, “kind”.

Compared to some of my other Tim Hunt blogs this one will not be that long. I have not touched the Tim Hunt wikipedia entry. I am biased. I support Sir Tim Hunt. I can see my bias. I have a POV. It is that a great injustice has occurred. I scorn to pretend to objectivity in my viewpoint.

But in this post I hope to offer up some objective facts, so that, perhaps, somebody else will alter that goddamned wikipedia entry and in the end, get rid of that wrong “transcript.”

The Various Accounts

  1. The CSL /DB/IO version of Hunt’s toast.

Nobel scientist Tim Hunt FRS says at Korean women lunch “I’m a chauvinist and keep ‘girls’ single lab

At #WCSJ2015 President lunch today sponsored by powerful role model Korean female scientists and engineers. Utterly ruined by sexist speaker Tim Hunt FRS @RoyalSociety who stood up on invitation and says he has a reputation as male chauvinist [sic]., He continued “let me tell you about my trouble with girls” “3 things happen when they are in the lab; you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticize [sic]them, they cry” not happy with the big hole he has already dug he continues digging “I’m in favour of single-sex labs” BUT he “doesn’t want to stand in the way of women. [sic, no close quotes] Oh yeah! Sounds like it? [sic] let me tell you about my trouble with girls three things happen in the lab: you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticize them, they cry! So as a result, he’s in favour of single-sex labs but he doesn’t want anything to stand in the way of women. Really does this Nobel Laureate think we are still in Victorian times??? [sic]

Readers will note that this account uses a description plus actual quotes.

Next, we have the EU “transcript” which has entered into the “Tim Hunt canon”. Around the internet one will find supporters saying “But this is what Tim Hunt actually said”

“It’s strange that such a chauvinist monster like me has been asked to speak to women scientists. Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. Three things happen when they are in the lab: you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them they cry. Perhaps we should make separate labs for boys and girls? Now seriously, I’m impressed by the economic development of Korea. And women scientists played, without doubt an important role in it. Science needs women and you should do science despite all the obstacles, and despite monsters like me.”

The key words in this version are, of course, “Now seriously…” which mean that the preceding remarks were sarcasm or irony, negating, rather than affirming, the sentiment expressed.

The words in the CSL transcript, are, broadly speaking, in this transcript too – it just puts them in a context that makes it clear Hunt was being sarcastic, mocking himself, not women.


The problem is the word “transcript”. It was used by both DB/CSL/IO and the EU official but with key and always omitted qualifiers. To his former intern Cat Ferguson at Buzzfeed, Oransky called the quotes “a post-hoc transcript.” In his report, the EU observer said it was a transcript “as best as I can remember.

Here is the audio snippet of the end of the toast, with laughter, recorded by eyewitness Natalia Demina:

So, that is the only true thing that we can transcribe.

‘So, congratulations, everybody, because I hope – I hope – I hope – I really hope there is nothing holding you back, especially not monsters like me.” Laughter – start of applause.

The words “congratulations, everybody” appear in neither account, and, logic dictates, must have been preceded by some warm sentiment towards women in science. It is impossible that CSL/DB/IO version is correct; there is nothing in it, either the quotes or the report, that could possibly have been followed by “congratulations, everybody.”

The other primary written data is the only contemporaneous report in existence, the tweet of Shai Panela

Nobel laureate Tim Hunt acknowledging the contribution of female science journalists

I think it is important to note that there was NO tweet or social media post criticising Hunt until Connie St. Louis posted her tweet. Nobody, but nobody, thought whatever Hunt had said was bad enough to write or tweet anything, on Facebook or Twitter, in the three hours after the lunch until CSL gave her interpretation. Aside from Panela’s tweet, the only other contemporaneous social media post was this photo by Timothy James Dimacali, simply captioned “Tim Hunt” for several days, until the media storm caused him to change his caption:

joking tim

Now let us look at the other eyewitness accounts about the content of the speech which are a day or so later. In this blog, I am specifically looking only at accounts of what Tim Hunt actually said, that are near contemporary. Shai Panela said two days later ‘but at least he’s honest that he’s known for being sexist!’ which accords with CSL/DB/IO tweet.

Crucially, however, Shiow Chin Tan, a science editor from Malaysia, tweeted in a series of tweets that I have storified, before the Today Show was even broadcast:

Sorry to butt in, but I was there, and IMO, he was joking.

Tan is shown St. Louis tweet above, the CSL/DB/IO transcript. She replies to it:

He did add that if single-sex labs were implemented, men would be the worst off for it. And both men and women were to blame for the falling in love bit. But I suppose this is one of those matters of perception.


And wait, what’s this? Normally, I would not include any late accounts of Hunt’s speech, knowing what I know now about the utter fallibility of memory. But as it comes from his chief accuser Deborah Blum, I do wish to include it:

Hunt began also by paying tribute to the capable female scientists that he knew.

Surprisingly (nb: that is irony, it is not at all surprising) the account that Deborah Blum said that she verified and co-authored with St. Louis (without admitting it at the time)

As St. Louis recounted yesterday, she, Oransky, and I sat down, and compared our notes to make sure we had an accurate account.…we decided to keep it simple. Connie would tweet the event; Ivan and I would retweet her.

But this is extraordinary. Blum says she wanted to be sure she had an “accurate account” but she also stated that Sir Tim Hunt began his speech by “paying tribute to the capable female scientists he knew.”

Where is that tribute to the “capable female scientists” in the Connie St. Louis tweet – or, for that matter, the EU account?

It is nowhere.

I also looked again at Blum’s earlier account in her fallacious Storify:

I talked about the importance and value of women in science. And Sir Tim also said something like that

Well now! That is again different even from what Deborah Blum would later write in the Daily Beast, where she said:

Hunt began also by paying tribute to the capable female scientists that he knew.

Those two things aren’t the same; paying tribute to individual women scientists – I would guess, to Korean Professor Hyunsook Lee, whom he had mentored for twenty years (not present) and others – Mary Collins, perhaps? His wife? and talking of the ‘importance and value of women in science.’ Remember this is Deborah Blum’s own sodding account. Where the hell was it in her fauxtraged tweet?

Another throwaway line in Blum’s Storify verifies the account of Shiow Chin Tan:

These included the fact that 1) women scientists fall love with male scientists 2) vice versa 3)

That “vice-versa” accords exactly with Shiow Chin Tan saying

And both men and women were to blame for the falling in love bit.

So, Blum and Shiow Chin Tan including the same detail makes Shiow Chin Tan’s other notation, that men would be the worse off for it if labs were segregated, all the more believable.

So here is my hodge-podge version of all the accounts on the record. This isn’t a “transcript” – nothing like. It’s a rough inclusion of all that people who were there said at the time that Tim Hunt said (not weeks later post-storm).

Thank you. I say something about the importance and value of women in science [acc Deborah Blum]. I also pay tribute to the capable female scientists I know, including name and name, by saying some nice things about them [acc Deborah Blum]. And I now acknowledge the contribution made by female science journalists. [acc Shai Panela]. It’s strange that such a chauvinist monster like me has been asked to speak to women scientists. Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. Three things happen when they are in the lab: you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them they cry. Perhaps we should make separate labs for boys and girls? But if we had separate labs, men would be the worse off for it! [acc Shiow Chin Tan] Now seriously, I’m impressed by the economic development of Korea. And women scientists played, without doubt an important role in it. Science needs women and you should do science despite all the obstacles. So, congratulations, everybody, and I hope – I hope – I hope – I really do hope there is nothing holding you back, especially not monsters like me.” Laughter, clapping[acc: a recording by Natalia Demina: literally the only words for which there exists an actual transcript]

Again, what I include in this post are accounts by witnesses, that are contemporary, of what Sir Tim Hunt said – not their characterisations of what he said: a joke, not a joke, deathly silence, a faux pas, a warm and funny speech, sexism incarnate, etc: I will sum those up in a later post. Here, I am not interested in recording what people thought of what he said (Shai Panela, very criticial, I misused her tweet, ugh; Shiow Chin Tan, said she laughed and applauded throughout, etc) but rather recording what they said that he said.

The Non-script above, the compilation album if you like, fits better the other piece of real, hard data that we have on Hunt’s toast; photographs. The WCSJ took photographs, Natalia Demina took photographs, and Timothy Dimacali took one photograph. All of these had different device or camera clocks, so one needs to compare like with like. Based on a series of photos by Natalia Demina, including her photo of Deborah Blum speaking before Tim Hunt, and her audio file recorded on the same device, I can state with certainty, having pulled the metadata, that Hunt’s toast lasted between two and three minutes. I will include all the known photos at the end of this post. The Non-script above, which includes all the accounts of contemporary witnesses of the words said, better fits a 2-3 minute toast than any of the other versions in isolation.

What then are we left with?

We are left with the fact that Sir Tim Hunt was asked – last minute, he had not prepared anything – to make some short remark at a lunch honouring women scientists, which he had agreed to attend as a guest of honour, on a trip for the ERC where he was showcasing two female scientists.

We are left with the fact that he spoke for two-three minutes (three minutes is the outer possible limit).

We are left with the fact that until CSL/DB/IO tweeted, there was no negative mention anywhere on social media.

We are left with the fact that Sir Tim opened this short toast with talking about the importance and value of women in science, and with praise of women scientists, paying tribute to them, so says his accuser Blum; then acknowledged the contribution of female science journalists; made a joke about his romantic trouble with women in the lab (he married his former lab student, the distinguished immunologist Professor Mary Collins); the rest of his short toast is disputed; he however, as a fact, closed his remarks with the words “so congratulations, everybody, because I hope, I hope, I hope, I really do hope there is nothing holding you back, especially not monsters like me,” and then his audience laughed and applauded.

Those are the facts. Those are the only facts. A two-three minute toast was given, by a last-minute request, at a lunch to honour women which Tim Hunt had happily agreed to grace as guest of honour; as part of a trip he made in order to help to showcase women scientist grantees; a toast that opened with the praise of women in science, and closed with congratulations to women in science, and was received with laughter and applause.

Everything else is disputed.

If you wish to argue that Hunt was appallingly sexist, you may. But you have to argue that he was so in between praising women scientists and women science journalists when he began, and congratulating them and wishing them well when he finished.

And you have no proof of the alleged sexism. For it is disputed.

Here are the photographs. I cannot resist pointing out that Deborah Blum repeatedly, most recently as a source in a non-fact-checked article in Wired Science by Sarah Zhang, stated that this was a ‘room of women scientists.’

where he joked to a room full of female scientists

what rubbish. And Blum was a speaker – she saw the audience.

You think it’s harmless to say to a roomful of women scientists (17 percent of Korean research population)

It wasn’t. It was invite-only for science journalists in receipt of travel grants and the heads of #Scicomm journalism associations. As you can see, at best, 50-50 m/f.




Paik thanking

Hee Young Paik of Kofwst who “thanked the women for making the lunch,” a sentiment bullshit fauxporters would blame Hunt for; a sentiment Scott Watkins of Australia told me was so sexist it caused groans at his table:


Deborah Blum regales us with “kindness”. Her “remarks” were a minute long. Everyone looks riveted.

hunt up

th 2 tim 1th 3

joking tim

This, above, is Timothy Dimacali’s photo. Note that not only does St. Louis have her translator earpiece still in her ear, she is looking down.

hunt jokes

This photo, by Natalia Demina, is the last I have of the lunch. He looks deadly serious, no? “Not joking at all” as Connie St. Louis would lie on Radio 4? One more listen to how that little toast went down, words NOT in the “transcript” in the canon:

So here is my hope, citizen journalists, Wikipedia editors et al: you can say whatever you want about Tim Hunt, but there’s no transcript and no proof of anything he said except the end of his speech; and he opened and closed warmly towards women in science.

Let’s hope both “science” and “journalism” can, next time, look at, as Professor Dame Athene Donald puts it, “the importance of evidence.”

Because, as Sir Tim Hunt has said, ‘science needs women.’ And women in science need allies like Sir Tim Hunt. Guys who mentor women, appoint women, give women places at Cambridge, promote women, and get creches installed in their workplaces.

How many of the fauxtrage monsters have ever done a scintilla as much?

MLeptin J


Hogwash: Cameron, Ashcroft, and the steaming pile of Oakeshott

Unlike the fauxporters in the Tim Hunt scandal I need to start by declaring my interests.

I am a Conservative party member and activist, and a former MP. I am a columnist, and sometimes I am a journalist (as with Tim Hunt). I am a follower of David Cameron and loyal to him, although George Osborne and Sajid Javid are slightly closer to my personal conservatism.

Additionally, I am a friend of Lord Ashcroft whom I have always admired, and I received money from Lord Ashcroft (before I knew him) as one of the marginal seat candidates the party supported in 2009. I raised a lot of money on my own, incidentally, and I took the seat in the 2010 election.

Lord Ashcroft donated money to the Conservative party and he targeted it at marginal seats. He made us prove how we would use it. My Labour opponent had far more money and reach than I did, with union funding and party-branded red and yellow government funded leaflets. Ashcroft wanted the Conservatives to win and took a businessman’s approach.

This was extremely public spirited of him. It can’t be emphasized enough that at this point, Ashcroft already had his peerage, his title. There was nothing further of any significance to be done for him. Ashcroft also commissions polls and lets the public see them. He supports our military massively. He saves Victoria Crosses for the nation. He is a man of huge public service and public achievement. In addition to all the above, Ashcroft commissioned research and showed it to the Tory party. Without him, Gordon Brown might be Prime Minister today.

The UK public doesn’t like rich men and women, it often seems, whereas America admires them. Ashcroft’s career is heroic. He started in poverty with an actual outside loo. I think he is something of a genius. And for all the sneering, to give away millions and millions to the nation and to politics is a highly selfless act. I have said the same about J.K. Rowling’s one million pound donation to Labour, calling on Twitter for it to be rewarded with a peerage. Without these donors, there will be laws and public funding. Donating to your party is selfless. Ashcroft already had the title. He wanted to work, to contribute.

I think it was wrong of the Prime Minister not to keep a clear promise to Lord Ashcroft and then blame it on Nick Clegg. Ashcroft deserved to be a minister. His ability is quite evident, his passion for our military unmatched and he had worked for our party  at the highest level for many years. Without Lord Ashcroft Cameron would probably not have become PM. I say that with regret. I don’t like criticizing the PM whom I admire. But I need to start there. There was no good reason, no moral reason, not to keep the promise to Lord Ashcroft. It was wrong not to do so.

Ashcroft is the more to be admired because he scorns to lie. He will not say that he is not angry. Is the book ‘revenge’? It’s portrayed that way. I do not think so, however. To my knowledge, Ashcroft is interested in the Prime Minister and wanted to cover him in depth – good, bad, warts and all. I know for a fact too that a version of the book could have come out before the election, and he held it back out of party loyalty. I know further that Lord Ashcroft could have published during party conference. Want revenge? Pig-gate during conference. Release it the day of Cam’s speech.

And here’s the but – the bacon buttie, if you will.

The book (I shall buy it) has smeared the PM in ways no journalist ever should. Ashcroft ought not to have released it in its present form. He made the mistake of relying on Isabel Oakeshott, a former journalist, presently the contempt of the entire UK press corps. She had a good reputation. She was senior. She was meant to do the legwork and the research. Ashcroft clearly believed her and as a non-journo, would not be aware that you need to actually double-source stories or see some proof.

Here’s what Oakeshott did – she ruined her own reputation and grossly harmed that of Michael Ashcroft. Whatever else the book has to say it will now not be believed even if true. I am angry at her for insulting the PM but more so for the damage she has inflicted on Lord Ashcroft, who paid her to help him research an in-depth biography. He had to trust her judgement.

Oakeshott knew how her quote would be spun – Ashcroft did not. She was the national editor, he is a businessman and pollster. I would bet Lord Ashcroft is shocked and dismayed at how this one unsourced piece of hogwash (eye thank yew) would ruin all the other parts of his work. It was Oakeshott’s job as a journalist to say to her co-author who hired her, ‘Look, we can’t use it because we can’t stand it up.’

As I read it, her alleged “source” doesn’t even claim to have witnessed the pig incident. But he says he knows somebody who did and has a pic. So it’s not single-sourced – it’s zero sourced. She hasn’t got a witness. She’s got a guy who says he knows a guy who knows.

And what about the fiction over friction? Cameron is not accused even of “having sex with a pig” as mad Corbynites claimed on twitter. He’s accused of something I won’t repeat here involving cooked food and placement of bits thereon, not a sexual act. It was an “initiation ceremony” for a society he wasn’t in. There’s nothing to it, other than that one shouldn’t get drunk and take clothes off. But she, Oakeshott, made something out of it. She knew that the pure fiction of this ninicident (Not an incident) – even if true – would be turned into a fictional sexual act. Not even her doubtless imaginary source claims that the guy he says he knows saw a sexual act. What if there were a photo? We’d have no idea what it showed without a reliable eyewitness account, either. Oakeshott’s alleged, citation-needed “source” does not say he was even there.

I am reminded of Private Eye sending up Mohammed Al Fayed’s account of the “nurse” who saw Princess Diana in the tunnel



Nurse N’Existe-Pas

47, Rue Imaginaire


Since Oakeshott is prepared to try to ruin a man by printing a nonecdote from a non-witness who says he knows a witness who won’t talk, why should we think the non-witness even exists?

Nothing else in this book matters. Nobody will now believe a word of it. Cameron is above it. His wife and children have a right to be angry. Lord Ashcroft hired the wrong woman. He ought not to have published this book, that is true. David Cameron ought to have kept his promise, that is also true. Isabel Oakeshott is not a politician who should be keeping promises or minding her manners, but of the three, she is  – or she was – the sole journalist, whose job is to have integrity and present the truth, warts and all. That’s what Ashcroft wanted and the fact he held publication shows that mere ‘damage’ was not his aim.

But Oakeshott did not give us “warts and all”. She gave us hogwarts. And in so doing she damaged the reputation of both David Cameron and Lord Ashcroft.

She may well work again, sensationalism sells. But her reputation as a journalist is finished, and rightly so. She’s made a pigs’ ear of the work Ashcroft hired her to do. I, meanwhile, shall not forget that despite this silly story, Lord Ashcroft helped David Cameron save the entire UK from a disastrous Labour government. That really matters, to Ashcroft’s credit and Cameron’s. That will last. That has affected the economy of the UK, has affected 65 million people. That is why I am, though a fan of David Cameron’s, still extremely proud to know Lord Ashcroft and am still extremely grateful to him.

We all make errors of judgement – some at college and some afterwards. I’m for moving on and getting on with the job – in this case, protecting the nation from Corbyn and Labour.

Tom 1

Tom Watson Starts His Leadership Bid

Should have seen that before; now I understand why moderate unions supported corbyn; is really support for Tom Watson

I think I was the first to suggest that the Corbyn leadership was being backed by the unions as a front for Tom Watson to take over the Labour leadership:

Another is that Corbyn wins, Labour MPs immediately rebel (two months perhaps – but they would be better declaring the leadership election infiltrated and ripping off the plaster right away than waiting) and a second election is scheduled. Tom Watson will be elected Deputy Leader in the forthcoming election, and would therefore be Acting Leader at the time. I can see Tom running, and he would win any second contest easily. I know and like Tom and he is a pragmatist. Compared to Corbyn he will look like Margaret Thatcher. Compared to Andy Burnham or Yvette Cooper he will look like Jeremy Corbyn, however. Tom’s support in the Union movement is total. He would be an effective leader of the Opposition if (and my advice here is as his friend) he worked hard on understanding the shift he’d just made, and above all other things, controlled his temper and moderated his speech.

And so it proves. Corbyn endures a truly dreadful 48 hours as leader, with silence at the PLP, a fight over Remembrance Day poppies, and Labour women incensed at the sexism of their party.

But by the end of Corbyn’s first day as leader, Tom Watson has already made his move. There is an extraordinary headline in the Times today:

Unions join attacks on Corbyn’s top team

One senior trade union source described the appointment as mad and added: “I’m honestly shocked at how bad the operation has been for the past 48 hours. I honestly thought [Mr Corbyn] would be better than this.”

Even Len McCluskey, the Unite leader who has hailed Mr Corbyn as the future, was among those said to be pushing for alternative candidates to lead Labour’s economic strategy.

In public, trade union bosses were barely more polite — either about Mr McDonnell, or on Mr Corbyn’s electoral appeal. Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said that Mr Corbyn would have to “grow into the job”. Sir Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB union… “Let’s see what the voters say. Because at the end of the day, they are really the important ones.”

What? The Unions, bastions of the left, move against the hardest left leader Labour has ever had?

Two words: Tom. Watson.

Even Len McCluskey, the Unite leader who has hailed Mr Corbyn as the future

Unite is Tom’s union. He’s been running Unite candidates to get selected as Labour MPs. “Hailed Mr. Corbyn as the future” until Tom’s been elected Deputy Leader. Thanks for that. Now off you go.

Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison

Watson is very connected in Unison.

Labour MPs know that their barking mad membership who voted for lunatic Corbyn 60% will ruin any future contest. They need a man who can command armies. For whom they have already voted. That man is my friend Tom Watson. He’s clever. He’s a patriot. He’s pragmatic. Like I said a while ago, compared to Corbyn he’s Margaret Thatcher; compared to spineless Andy Burnham or moderate Liz Kendall, he’s Jeremy Corbyn.

And if he gets himself a good speechwriter, Tom is a very dangerous, very credible, alternative Prime Minister.

Labour leaders

Corbyn And Why Labour Lose

Credit to Twitter legend @jamin2G for this tweet, which prompted a revelation:


Labour sure know how to pick ’em..

Labour leaders


It’s just a funny montage of Labour’s most recent leaders from the left of the party, looking rough. And yes, we Tories have had plenty of that, with Hague’s baseball cap and so forth.

But boy do they look unelectable.

And in fact, they were unelectable.

The missing leader is Tony Blair – and I now realize he was an aberration. My twenties gave me a false impression that we were in a competitive two-party system. We really aren’t. The only time Labour won in modern times, they were represented by a centrist who could, easily enough, have been a Clarke-ite in Cameron’s Conservative party.

But Labour don’t really believe in the center. They believe in left. And they keep losing. Because they are wrong. The country is mildly centre-right. It doesn’t like very right and it doesn’t like left or very left. It can deal with centre-left.

Corbyn’s policies are simply evil, and I don’t mean to demean decent politicians like Ed Miliband and Gordon Brown or Neil Kinnock by putting them in a bracket with an extremist like Corbyn. But nevertheless, all of these people were unelectable. Labour will be wiped out under Corbyn, but if I am honest, they would lose under Cooper, too (the strongest candidate) if not by quite such a landslide.

But sometimes you can’t see the wood for the trees in politics. Conservative politics are just right, and Labour policies are wrong. They mean well, and all that, but they are wrong. The country knows they are wrong. It won’t vote for socialism. Margaret slew that dragon for all time in 1979. We will never have a socialist government ever again.

Labour don’t win elections. Callaghan, Attlee, Wilson – red splashes in the blue sea. Basically, it’s been a steady diet of varying shades of blue since World War II finished. Since Ramsay McDonald and before Tony Blair, I count 24 Labour years and 44 Tory ones. Almost a 2-1 margin. Add in Blair’s victories and Labour had 13 more years because of him; almost 30% of their total time in power.

And they hate him. They want to go back to ideological purity and losing elections, their natural order. It’s like the Tea Party who think the answer to Obama is to double down on Palin.

Blair was indeed Tory-lite; it’s why I joined Labour in 1996. I left again in 1997 because the rest of his party wasn’t.

Social democrats are better off either splitting from Labour and founding a non-sexist and racist LibDem-type party (practice, not principles – few women, no ethnic minority MPs) or joining the Conservatives and trying to move us left.

Britain is centre-right and Labour can’t win because Labour are wrong*.


Louise Mensch aged 44 1/4

*I mean it though