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



Tim Hunt Natala demina

The Tim Hunt Reporting Was False. Royal Society, Please Give Him Due Process

Trisha Greenhalgh J

If you are a scientist or academic, please email, with your name and university,

Paul.Nurse@royalsociety.org, Michael.arthur@ucl.ac.uk

and ask them to, at the very least, state publicly that there is no evidence Sir #TimHunt ever made a sexist joke, or is a sexist.

Maria Leptin J

Tim Hunt Natala demina

Sir Tim Hunt Was Misreported. Here’s How

My first blog on the shameful treatment of the Sir Tim Hunt, FRS, Nobel Laureate, 72, demonstrated how a couple of his peers pre-judged him as a sexist over a Twitter storm, before he could speak a word in his own defence.

This blog will, I hope, demonstrate how the initial portrayal of Sir Tim was based on partial, false reporting. It contains an on the record statement from Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, President of the ERC that he had eyewitnesses plural report to him on the day of the lunch that Sir Tim had praised women in science and been warmly received: that he personally spoke both on the phone, and later face to face, with a Korean woman organizer of the conference, and she had given him “explicit confirmation” of the speech’s praise of women and warm reception.

It also contains, below, testimonies from named journalist eyewitnesses who all flatly contradict Connie St. Louis’ account.

Sir Tim Hunt was a guest of honour on June 8 at a luncheon held in honour of women scientists and engineers at a conference in Seoul.

zzzz science journalists hunt J

the only contemporary tweet during the lunch in Seoul 

Connie St. Louis Reports a Serious Attack on Women; Says Sir Tim Hunt Argued In Earnest That Labs Should Be Segregated

After this luncheon, Ms. St. Louis sent her now-notorious tweet accusing Sir Tim of having seriously insulted women in science, and seriously argued for sex-segregated laboratories.

CSL tweet

Ms. St. Louis went on the UK’s most listened-to programme, the Today Show on Radio 4. She was very insistent that Sir Tim had not been joking in any way, and that he was definitely advocating segregated laboratories.

Sarah Montague: Connie St. Louis, when he said this – I mean, you heard him, you were there – what was the reaction in the room?

Connie St. Louis: Well, there was a deathly silence, it was – who stands up and says “I hope the women have prepared the lunch”? “I’m a male chauvinist pig”. And at that point, you’d think he would get some social cues to say “Stop”, because nobody was laughing…these guys had been incredibly generous and thoughtful and inclusive by asking him to make comments at their lunch. …And I kept thinking… this is just too awful and these guys are incredibly upset.

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

When Sir Tim later told the Guardian that his joke was meant to be sending up sexism, not women, and that it was misreported:

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

Connie St. Louis was not having any of it. STOP DEFENDING SIR TIM HUNT, she wrote, also in the Guardian. He was NOT joking and he had absolutely not praised women in science or in Korea. If only that were true!

During Hunt’s outburst, the female Korean scientists and engineers were stunned and confused…Nobody was laughing. Hunt now claims he added the words “now seriously” …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.

The EU Observer’s Report is Leaked

An internal report by an EU Observer (it is standard practice to write these up at such events, President Bourguinon told me) then leaked to the Times. It contained this ‘rough transcript, as best as I can remember.’ and a reaction in the room totally different from Connie St. Louis description:

‘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 official added: “Sir Tim didn’t ‘thank women for making lunch. I didn’t notice any uncomfortable silence or any awkwardness in the room as reported on social and then mainstream media.”

The official added that his neighbour, a woman from the Korean National Research Council of Science and Technology and an organiser of the conference, responded positively. “Without being asked, she said she was impressed that Sir Tim could improvise such a warm and funny speech (her words). Later she told me that all other Korean lunch participants she talked to didn’t notice or hear anything peculiar in Sir Tim’s speech.”

This, of course, backed up what Sir Tim had said from day 1. At first, Blum and Oransky did not deny the extra words and context when it put to them by the Times. I suggest that Blum’s reactions on twitter show that she was afraid there was a tape.

‘Can you confirm or refute this claim? The added context is important,’ she’s asked on Twitter the day before the times published.

It’s got some of the right elements but it’s not precisely what he said. It’s more polished.’

A fellow journalist at the lunch, Nataliya Demina of Russia, had challenged St. Louis’ and Blum’s account all along and did so again:

verified J

‘Verified by many?’ Deborah Blum was sitting right next to him.

But as it becomes clear that there’s no tape recording, Connie St. Louis and Deborah Blum, and their allies, go back on the attack. ‘Not a transcript! Not an official report! Complied late! Proves nothing!’

Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, President of the ERC, And Journalist Eyewitnesses Contradict St. Louis’ And Blum’s Account

I then do some fact-checking. There was one official document, the first, on the 10th June: a statement from the ERC President that was on the record.

President of the European Research Council on June 10th

Sir Tim Hunt has already apologised and explained that his impromptu comments were meant to be “light-hearted” and “ironic”, and that it was not his intention to demean women. In his main speech he was very supportive towards women in science and he said that he hoped there was nothing that barred women from science.

I can also add that during the time I have worked with him on the ERC Scientific Council he has only ever been a supporter of gender balance.

The ERC’s clear view is that women and men are equally able to perform frontier research at the highest level. This is the core of the ERC Gender Equality Plan, first endorsed in 2010 and revised in 2014. The plan is fully supported by the entire Scientific Council, including Sir Tim. The plan is available on the ERC website.

So…. being an ex-politician, as well as a journalist, I know that it is very difficult for political bodies to release documents, like the observer’s report, they have tried to suppress. I ignore the EU observer report because it is off the record, and I ask questions about the document which is on the record. For one thing, its date is closer to the speech – 10th June, when Connie St. Louis was talking to Today about the ‘deathly silence’ in the room.

I asked M. Bourguignon why he made the assertion that he did on June 10th that Sir Tim was in fact “very supportive to women in science.” He replied:

I based the relevant part of my June 10 statement on the testimonies of eye witnesses. These were confirmed by other testimonies that surfaced later.

7. As I recalled in the statement, gender balance has been an issue the Scientific Council has been concerned about for a long time and remains to be highly concerned with. A number of measures have been put in place, e.g. the plan quoted in the statement. All those required votes of the ERC Scientific Council, and Sir Tim always supported these pro-active actions.

Your question 7 has also another dimension, namely Sir Tim’s availability to interact with other researchers, in particular young ones, female and male of course. It is well known to very many people that, among people of his distinction, Sir Tim is exceptionally keen of talking both to audiences or to individuals about his experience and answering all kinds of question. This is precisely why I chose him to accompany two women ERC grantees to attend the very special conference in Seoul.

M. Bourguignon is clear – he heard at the time from eyewitnesses plural and confirmed it later that Sir Tim’s main speech was ‘very supportive to women in science.’

Could he shed any light on the claim that a Korean woman host had agreed with Nataliya Demina’s testimony that Tim Hunt was warmly received in the room? This was important as the head of the organization had belatedly, after the media storm, demanded an apology ‘on behalf of all women scientists in Korea and around the world’. She was contradicted by a female former pupil of Sir Tim’s, Professor Hyunsook Lee of Seoul University, who said ‘This does not sound like Tim at all’ and ‘he never treated me like a female scientist.’ If a Korean woman host present HAD INDEED praised the speech at the time, and testified to its warm reception, then the ‘apology demand’ would be so much guff from somebody who wasn’t there –  speaking on behalf of others.

Amazingly,  President Bourguignon stood up to be counted on this matter, too, and he delivered a genuine bombshell: not only had he received a verbal report on the day itself that corresponded with the contents of the written report, he had personally spoken to the Korean host himself in Brussels, face-to-face, and she confirmed the leaked account. A staffer had conveyed the reaction in the room of one of the Korean women hosts

who was present
and to whom I could speak later face-to-face (she
came later to Brussels) and get explicit confirmation of
how the event went”


Just to recap: the leaked report said:

“Without being asked, [the Korean female host] said she was impressed that Sir Tim could improvise such a warm and funny speech (her words). Later she told me thatall other Korean lunch participants she talked to didn’t notice or hear anything peculiar in Sir Tim’s speech.”

So now we aren’t in the territory of unconfirmed, off the record reports any more. Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, President of the European Research Council, confirmed that day and face to face in Brussels later that this was the truth of poor Sir Tim’s lunch.

Before I got this bombshell email on Monday morning I had spent some time gathering evidence from other eyewitnesses. The Filipino journalist Timothy Dincali had taken this picture on his Facebook page on the day of the speech, at first captioning it just “Tim Hunt” on 8th June. Only as the controversy developed did he feel the need to change the caption to note he snapped the photo “at the very moment” Tim made the joke

UPDATE: New photo by journalist eyewitness Natalia Demina. remind yourselves: Connie St. Louis said ‘he wasn’t joking at all’ ‘everybody was stony faced’; Deborah Blum wrote ‘Before his attempts to pass it of as humour he told his co-panelist something else entirely’ ‘I asked him if he was joking and he just elaborated. Sigh’

Tim Hunt Natala demina

Tim Hunt was like a rabbit who came to a dark forest with wolfes. Next time let him take a dictophone and a videocamera – Nataliya Demina, Russian science journalist

In Timothy Dimacali’s photo, Sir Tim can be seen smiling, as can a Korean woman. Connie St. Louis can be seen with her translation earpiece still in her ear. She’s not looking at Sir Tim. A TV interview she gave to France 24 states that at first she didn’t even know who was talking. ‘

joking tim

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

But other journalists present were paying a lot more attention than Connie – even ones who thought the joke was inappropriate (such as Dincali), as well as those who were not at all offended:

Timothy Dincali:

As I keep telling people, he said it in a very lighthearted manner with no outward hint of malice, condescension, or derision…. I’m not surprised nobody had their recorders out. The luncheon was a very laid-back affair, and Hunt’s remark was just one of those usual bits of light banter made at the start to usher in the event while waiting for food. In Hunt’s case, it seems he was too laid back for his own good

Was it followed by praising women in science? Deborah Blum insisted that Hunt had praised women in science (sorry Connie) but afterwards gone on to be insulting and argue for sex-segregated labs:

Timothy Dincali

No – the joke came ahead of everything else. That much I’m certain of

Nataliya Demina, Russia: (female)

So for me his speech during the Lucheon was a real joke. I can’t help
people who felt offended. I didn’t even pay much notice at what he
said, I laughed and applauded as my neighbors at the table, and I was
surprised to know what a scandal arraised afterwards.

I was suprised that his critics didn’t publish his whole speech.
Connie St Loius published only the beggining as if Tim didn’t speak
anything else and she said that everybody in the Lucheon Hall was
offended. It wasn’t true. Many people laughed, because Tim also
laughed. Debora Blum rearranged the beginning and the end. I remember
that Tim joked in the beginning and then he said serious things about
the conference and about his lecture.

Pere Estupinya, Spain (male)

I don’t remember Tim Hunt’s exact works, but he said something positive about women scientists after his awful joke …. I mean: he definitely made the famous comments. He made them in an humoristic tone. …Then he said some positive words towards women.

Tan Siow Chin, Maylasia (female)

What has not been reported, which I feel is important and adds balance to his earlier comments, is that he also added that men would be the worse off for it (if the genders were segregated).
I did laugh at his comments, because it was very obvious to me that he was saying it in a very light-hearted and joking manner. I was not offended at all, because I did not think he meant it seriously, in particular, his comments on segregating the sexes. And yes, I did applaud as well.
I did not notice my neighbours’ reactions at the table – to be honest, I had come in late from the previous session and was busy with my lunch – but I don’t remember hearing any particular comments from anyone after Tim Hunt’s little speech.
I think that the whole incident has been blown way out of proportion, and that Tim Hunt has been made a scapegoat for sexism in science. This is really sad because I don’t think he thinks that female scientists are inferior to male scientists, which seems to me to be the point of the whole situation. In addition, if you look at the programme, the parallel session that was sponsored by the European Research Council during the conference and moderated by Tim Hunt had female scientists as its both speakers – hardly the action of a real male chauvinist pig, yes?

And did Sir Tim sit down to “stony silence” as Connie St. Louis insisted, having shocked all his Korean hosts? Well President Bourginon has confirmed that last bit was utterly false face-to-face with the Korean woman host thought Sir Tim’s speech was warm and funny. So do journalists Nataliya and Tan Siow Chin.

Opinions differed as to whether the joke was inappropriate or not. The Korean woman organizer and the Russian and Malaysian journalists all laughed; the men were more critical, including the Spanish and Australian and Filipino witnesses cited here – but nobody has said that Sir Tim was not joking. Without exception eyewitnesses have said he was joking and that he praised women in science AFTER the joke, not, as Blum claimed, before it. Mocking himself then praising women? Absolutely.

But let’s get down to the awful suggestion of sex-segregated labs – Connie and Deborah and Ivan of the ironically named ‘Retraction Watch’ all backed each other in the account that this was a genuine argument. No mention of ‘but men would be worse off’ and then the praise of women in science.Wouldn’t people be up in arms at such a suggestion?

Timothy Dincali was explicit: Nobody on his table had complained or discussed it for the whole rest of the lunch.

But what about the deadly, deadly silence? That’s not a matter of interpretation, is it? Either everybody was shocked, and silent as Sir Tim sat down, or they were not.

So was Connie at least accurate about the horrified reaction in the room?

Sarah Montague: Connie St. Louis, when he said this – I mean, you heard him, you were there – what was the reaction in the room?

Connie St. Louis: Well, there was a deathly silence, ……. after he’d finished, there was this deathly, deathly silence.

Spoiler: NO. NO SHE WAS NOT.

Dr, Scott Watkins (a critic of Hunt)

there was probably some polite applause, and it’s possible that some of the people did laugh with him at some of the comments.

Timothy James Dincali

there was a clear, definite applause immediately after he spoke. It was a polite applause, to be sure, but not a gentle nor quiet kind of applause. And it couldn’t have been misinterpreted as being for some other speaker precisely because it happened just as he sat down.

There was laughter and there was applause. Whether or not there were any misgivings in the audience about his remarks, the fact was that there was definite laughter and applause. Could it have been that the audience was simply being polite about it? Perhaps. But they definitely did not sit in stony silence.

He certainly did NOT sit down to stony silence. Putting aside whatever misgivings people might have had with his words immediately after, I can say with absolute certainty that the rest of the lunch proceeded normally.

Pere Estupinya

there were the typical applauses after his intervention, that was at least three to four minutes long….

….when he finished, there was the conventional applause after any intervention. It would have ben weird (and noticeable) if not….

Nataliya Demina

I am surprised to read Connie’s answers, as if we were at different luncheons. Many people smiled and applauded! I saw words about deadly silence and stone faces in CSL piece… that wasn’t true, people reacted quite differently. There are several eyewitnesses who also laughed and applauded as me, no deadly silence at all

Tan Siow Chin

I did laugh at his comments…. and yes, I did applaud as well.

So we now have debunked:

1. Connie St Louis – “Nobody was laughing – everybody was stony faced – when he finished, there was a deathly, deathly silence.” This is, quite simply, false on its face.

2. The President of the Korean Federation of who said all her members were scandalized – both Professor Hyunsook Lee and the female Korean conference host at the actual event totally contradict that issued statement days later. The Korean woman present spoke personally to the president of the ERC to confirm her view of Sir Tim’s speech, and of course, that no other Korean women she spoke to present noticed anything amiss:

3. Deborah Blum’s Storify account that Sir Tim opened with some praise of women but then finished only some jokes against them. Every other eyewitness says it was the other way round. Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, President, ERC, confirms on the record that he received oral eyewitness accounts plural that day of Sir Tim’s support for women scientists in that speech.

But what remains? Well, the rest of Blum’s storify – namely, that Sir Tim did really think that women were too emotional etc etc  – as opposed to his personal romantic problems (a lab romance is how he met his wife, Professor Mary Collins. But Blum knew what Sir Tim had said was controversial the day before, so where is her recording?

Tim talks

This photo was taken when I was asking him if he was joking, Blum said. Yes, I can certainly see who is joking and who is serious here Debs, you pillock (British term; non-gendered insult). Blum repeatedly claims the photographer Kathryn O’ Hara ‘backs’ and ‘confirms’ her account. She does not; she merely  took the photograph. Nor was O’Hara even present at the original lunch.

Blum should have produced a contemporary recording and transcript. Frankly, if she brought one up now I wouldn’t believe it.

(Somebody pointed me to a YouTube video of one of Sir Tim’s other lectures. He is frankly a bit of an old sweetie. And it seems he uses irony pretty often as a rhetorical device “And then a wonderful thing happened,” he says in the speech. “The lab burned down.” )

Sir Tim Hunt’s reported comments, as a serious attack on women in science, and an argument for sex-segregated labs – shocking everybody in the room, scandalizing his hosts, received in deathly silence,   were indeed dreadful – but nobody bothered to fact check if the reports were true. They were not true. They were false. 

And nobody bothered to ask any of the most very basic common sense questions:

1. If Sir Tim despised women in science so much, why would he agree to be the guest of honour at their lunch?

2. How likely is it that a British man of 72 would seriously attack his hosts before a lunch?

3. Had the guy ever asked for a single-sex lab in his entire life?

4. What was the conference programme, was he doing anything for women at the goddamned conference, such as agreeing to be guest of honour at the ‘Women Scientist/Engineer lunch’ and as the female Maylasian scientist points out, moderating a session to highlight two women scientist speakers?

If you look at the programme, the parallel session that was sponsored by the European Research Council during the conference and moderated by Tim Hunt had female scientists as its both speakers – hardly the action of a real male chauvinist pig, yes?

5. If Sir Tim despised “women in the lab” so much why did he marry Professor Mary Collins?

6. Sir Tim was there as representative of the ERC. Jean-Pierre Bourguignon told me three times that since 2010 he had been working on and voting for its ERC Gender Equality Plan – five years of work.

Professor Hyunsook Lee’s mentor has obviously done more for women in science in the last five years than his critics have done in a lifetime. He got a creche installed at the Okinawa Institute.

He hasn’t yet been as successful in his fight to get one installed in the Crick Institute but, he says, he will keep fighting.

The head of the Crick is Sir Paul Nurse, who – coincidentally – is also the President of the Royal Society,

Time to consider the new evidence, UCL and The Royal Society – isn’t that what scientists do?

And lastly for those Tim Hunt attackers with any shame whatsoever here he is on the ERC website fighting breast cancer for ‘Breast Cancer Awareness Month’. Tim Hunt not only fighting for the ERC’s gender equality plan and for creches in Okinawa and the Crick – he’s fighting for Breast Cancer awareness AND, er, fighting ACTUAL BREAST CANCER. You know, fighting for women’s lives. 

1. The European Research Council already funds several projects related to breast cancer. Can you tell us what the ERC’s added-value is in this  field?

The ERC aims to support excellent scientists who propose excellent projects with an investigator-driven or “bottom-up” approach. Research funding from the ERC supports basic research that is higher risk than the work supported by specialist funding agencies with longer time-lines. It has therefore the potential to be of greater benefit in terms of providing major novel discoveries that could lead to new insights and ultimately to cures. There have been excellent examples of this in breast cancer research. In former times, the only treatment for breast cancer was surgery, and the main area of research simply concerned how much tissue to cut out. There was almost no understanding of the fundamental causes of breast cancer. This is exactly where the ERC’s added-value now stands for as it funds excellent basic research in many fields, including Life Sciences.

Oh shut the hell up about Breast Cancer Sir Tim! Women don’t need you! Go away! You made a joke about your own wife! Report to the nearest police station! We have plenty of Nobel-prize winning cancer scientists, ten a penny, they are!  It’s not as if you write for Buzzfeed, is it?

Lunch correction buzzfeed J

PS: I shall write a separate blog on all the falsehoods and inconsistencies in the BBC Today Show’s reporting, which put words he didn’t say in Sir Tim’ mouth and edited ‘I was only being honest’ to make it apply to something else – and in Deborah Blum’s, Charles Seife’s, and Connie St. Louis’ accounts – but to have listed everything here would have been to bog down the main point: the President of the ERC contradicts Connie St. Louis’ versions of events, and so does the Korean woman host of the lunch and multiple eyewitnesses.

And so does Sir Tim Hunt’s record of support for women – not that any of the twitterstorm rushing to judgement gave a flying **** about that. Look! Vagenda’s got a hashtag! Who needs fact-checking?

Well, I guess I like to do things in a slightly more old fashioned way, you know, like finding witnesses and colleagues and asking them questions. 

They taught me that at Oxford. You might call it “data journalism”. As in – get some data.

The “feminist” who lobbied the Royal Society to strip Sir Tim Hunt of his committee position, Dorothy Bishop, is very much against making jokes about women, because, as she said of Sir Tim “You don’t need to be a decent human being” to be an FRS.

So Professor Dorothy Bishop, FRS, I’ll just leave this one here, shall I?

zzzz In love with him t hunt

Axis of Evil J

Galloway’s Staffer, The Serjeant-At-Arms and Release of Parliamentary Data

Yesterday the news broke that IPSA, the Parliamentary regulators, having reviewed two complaints against George Galloway, the former MP for Bradford West, had referred them to the police.

It goes without saying that a referral is neither a conviction nor even a prosecution. But it does mean that Ms. Ali Khan’s complaint cannot be described as trivial, and that Parliament’s watchdog body agreed with her that there was a case the police should look at. Her lawyers, in statements, described ‘thousands of pages’ worth of evidence. Much of this evidence I have seen myself. Ms. Ali-Khan approached me last year and asked me to look at her case and see if I could help her.

As a footnote to the various articles, it was added in that I had also made a complaint which had been referred. The assumption by journalists was that I had complained on the same grounds. That assumption was incorrect.

Tom Newton-Dunn in the Sun broke the story that there was a pre-existing investigation by police into possible data protection offences which is currently being investigated after ‘a third party made a complaint’ in March. That third party was me.

On the same day that I made a complaint to the Metropolitan Police, I made an expenses-based complaint to IPSA against Mr. Galloway. This complaint, IPSA told me yesterday, they have also referred to the police (on the expenses grounds under which I made it).

It has nothing to do with how Mr. Galloway used the time of Ms. Ali Khan when she worked for him.

It has to do with how one of Mr. Galloway’s then parliamentary staff, Mr. Rob Hoveman, used his parliamentary email address and may have used parliamentary equipment and facilities, to seek data about Ms. Ali-Khan from various sources – including her parliamentary data as a House of Commons employee from the Serjeant at Arms, and including her Muslim divorce certificate – and passed that data to the Guardian newspaper.

If indeed this did happen with Mr. Galloway’s knowledge, it would be an appalling misuse of the powers, funds and office of an MP against a private citizen of the UK.

I regarded that as wrong both on grounds of data protection and on grounds of use of expenses.

My complaint to IPSA was rather different than Ms. Ali-Khan’s in that it did not contain thousands of pages of evidence. It contained one page of evidence – the email sent to me by the staffer in question from his then parliamentary email address, which I reproduce here, redacted as to references to third parties to protect their privacy:


From: Louise Mensch
Sent: 18 July 2014 16:45
Subject: Press Enquiry: Aisha Ali-Khan personal information

Dear Mr. Hoveman,

My name is Louise Mensch, and I am a journalist who writes for the Sun newspaper.

I have heard allegations that you improperly requested personal information on Ms. Ali Khan from the Serjeant-At-Arms, and that you passed on private and personal information about her to the Guardian newspaper.

Can you tell me if either of those allegations are true?

[redacted – questions about other allegations not relevant to this case]

I hope to receive a reply very shortly from you as to your personal actions relating to Ms. Ali-Khan’s data. If I do not receive one, I will send a Freedom of Information request to your office, to IPSA, and to the Serjeant-At-Arms’ office.

I will be most grateful for a contact to whom I should put my questions about Mr. Galloway, and/or if there is a direct and private email by which I can contact Mr. Galloway, or a good time at which I can speak to him directly.

I will give your office until this coming Monday, at 5pm, to respond to me.

Yours sincerely,

Louise Mensch


 Email received in reply:

Dear Ms Mensch,

I would not normally respond to any approach from a “Sun journalist” given what an atrocious paper the Sun is. I only have to recall the grotesque insult this paper made to the victims and the families of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster to feel almost physically sick at the thought of dealing with someone from this particularly unpleasant part of the gutter press. Nonetheless, I think it is incumbent on me to correct the tissue of lies and disinformation that you have been fed regarding matters concerning Aisha Ali-Khan.


Ms Ali-Khan was employed by George Galloway between April 1st and December 10th 2012 when she was summarily dismissed for gross misconduct. She was suspended from work on October 14th 2014. A police investigation into her activities and those of her lover former Detective Inspector Afiz Khan followed concerns raised in parliament and directly with the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and the Home Secretary. The result of this investigation was the summary dismissal of Afiz Khan from the Metropolitan Police and the conviction of both Afiz Khan and Aisha Ali-Khan for criminal offences. The two will be jointly sentenced on 31st July this year.


[redacted as reference to 3rd party]

On October 19th 2012, the Guardian published an article largely based upon the testimony of Aisha Ali-Khan. We raised objection to the bias in this and another article published on 15thOctober by the same journalist. In response to this complaint we received a reply from the then Managing Editor of the Guardian, Elisabeth Ribbans. In that response reference was made to the Guardian journalist having been shown information contained in Aisha Ali-Khan’s Security Vetting Questionnaire which Aisha Ali-Khan had been obliged to complete in order to receive her security pass giving her access to the parliamentary estate.


The specific claim made by Ms Ribbans was that the SVQ contained details of Afiz Khan as her spouse. Subsequently it was established that an Islamic but not civil marriage between Aisha Ali-Khan and Afiz Khan in 2009 had been followed by an Islamic divorce in 2010 confirmed by a Sharia Council. In the light of this information, I raised with Serjeant at Arms concerns about aspects of the security vetting of Ms Ali-Khan. Serjeant at Arms wrote back to me saying that the SVQ contained no reference to a serving police officer, from which I concluded that there was a prima facie contradiction between what Ms Ribbans had written to us in 2012 and the information provided to me by Serjeant at Arms in 2014. Naturally I raised this apparent contradiction with the Readers’ Editor at the Guardian, who is, for your information, a kind of Guardian ombudsman. His investigations into this matter are currently ongoing, but as a Sun journalist, you will no doubt be aware of just how serious a misdemeanour it would be for a journalist to fail to check the veracity and the credibility of a source properly, and even worse give false information regarding the checking of the veracity and credibility of a source, when false information could cost a newspaper very dearly.


As regards any potential breach of the Data Protection Act, I would say this. The divorce certificate confirmed by Sharia Council [redacted for a reference to a third party ]are documents in the public domain not covered either by the Data Protection Act or legal privilege. Serjeant at Arms sought advice from Speaker’s counsel before responding to me. I cannot imagine that any breach of the Data Protection Act would have occurred in such circumstances. I raised my concerns in the light of the information provided by Serjeant at Arms privately and in confidence to the Guardian Readers’ Editor. I am extremely surprised that any legitimate party to my exchanges with the Guardian Readers’ Editor would then have shared any or all of that information with the likes of a “Sun journalist”.


I trust this will correct some of the misinformation and misrepresentation to which you have been subject and ensure that you do not waste any more of your or my time on this particularly fruitless line of enquiry. As for other matters of which I have no knowledge but which relate to George Galloway and the Respect Party, I would advise you email your questions to, respectively, george.galloway.mp@parliament.uk in the former case and contact@respectparty.org in the latter.

Yours sincerely,

Rob Hoveman



Ms. Ali Khan provided me with a copy of her SVQ form. It is absolutely clear on the form that the data an employee provides thereon can only be used for parliamentary purposes. This is written on the form itself. I am unsure about the legality of reproducing a parliamentary data form, even a blank one, so at this stage I am not going to do so. However, that warning is written on the form. I do not believe that when the Serjeant-At-Arms sought advice from Speaker’s Counsel they knew that the intention was to give this data to a newspaper. Be that as it may, I nonetheless believe this was not proper and hence my twin complaints.

As to whether this Muslim woman’s private religious documentation was covered by the Data Protection Act, I am not sure. That it would be improper to use parliamentary time and resources to seek this out on a private citizen and pass it to a newspaper, I most certainly believe. Eagle-eyed readers will note that that is not the first time allies of Mr. Galloway have used a Muslim woman’s religious documentation against her.

Clearly, I am stating here that I believe expenses were wrongly used and data was wrongly passed on. It is for the police to decide if they agree that is so. What I can confirm is that the police did decide to investigate my data protection complaint of March 25, and that IPSA did refer my expenses complaint, that of improper use of staff time of this staffer on Ms. Ali Khan, on separate grounds to the Met, yesterday.

I should say that when I put various allegations to Mr. Galloway directly, his lawyers responded to me. One of my questions was if he knew of or approved of the actions of his staffer in the matter of Aisha Ali Khan’s information. Although his lawyers answered several of my questions, they declined to answer this one either to confirm or to deny it.

I am grateful to IPSA for looking into my expenses complaint and referring it to the Metropolitan Police. Despite Mr. Galloway describing me as part of a “New York-Tel Aviv axis of evil,” I will not be deterred in my reporting.

(as the matter concerns one ongoing police investigation, and possibly another should the Met Police decide to take up IPSA’s expenses referral, I am closing comments on the blog today).

Asian Grooming Gangs – where are all the other men?


don sutherland1In my Sun column yesterday I wrote in praise of Judge Peter Rook QC, a hero to women and children; a brave judge who ripped up the repellently low sentencing guidelines set by the Sentencing Council and threw them out.

Any serious advocate for sentences which reflect the real harm child abuse and gang rape does should read his sentencing remarks. I warn you now that they are unsparing in terms of detail on what was done to the victims, including when they were 12 and 13 years old.


It takes a lot of guts for a judge to tear up the loathsomely small penalties that the Sentencing Council think should be paid for gang rape of children. Be in no doubt that there is tremendous pressure on judges to pass light sentences, because jail capacity is full to overflowing. (the political answer is twofold – to remove custodial sentences where they are not necessary and to build more prisons. This is a capital infrastructure project that Osborne could usefully spend on; it provides a great many jobs, it means humane modern prison conditions, and it reassures the public who are crying out at timid sentencing).

His Honour Peter Rook QC had the necessary guts. He jailed these inhuman beasts for life, with minimum terms of 20 and 17 years etc. At the end of the blog I will excerpt the legalese with which he did true justice from the bench – the first time I can ever remember that gang rape received an appropriate sentence. God bless this judge; he has struck a blow against rape and child rape and torture that Parliament did not want and the judicial establishment did not want.

But let’s turn away from the brave determination of the man on the bench and on to the shabby cowardice of local police, local social services, and Oxfordshire county council.

We know how these children were ignored. WARNING – I am about to quote from the sentencing remarks of Judge Peter Rook to ask this question:

Why are only seven men in court? Why do the police, and Oxfordshire social services and council, not hunt down the hundreds of men who raped these little girls? Why have the phones and computers not been seized, why are the phone bills not being handed over by the mobile phone providers and pored over by analysts and detectives? WHERE ARE THE OTHER RAPISTS?

If we say “we jailed the ringleaders, job done” are we saying it is OK for a rapist of a twelve year old to walk away? It’s OK to receive a video of a little girl being gang-raped, get in your car and drive hundreds of miles to rape her yourself?


Saying “you let these little girls down” doesn’t being to cover it. You essentially colluded in their rape, trafficking and torture.

Let us look at the judge’s remarks on the other rapists:

“From the time when EF was 13 you started selling her to other men for sex. To use her words this happened “loads of times” over the next few years. Sometimes you would take photos presumably to entice further customers. Clearly it was a commercial operation. You would actually ask customers whether they were satisfied.”

Photos of a 13 year old girl. These photos were emailed, were texted. The men had phones and computers. WHY ARE THE RECIPIENTS NOT BEING HUNTED DOWN?

“There came at time before she (GH) was 13 that both of you Mohammed and Bassam Karrar started to bring strangers to have sex with her…many times…she had to endure depraved sexual demands…you, Mohammed, made videos…”


“Sometimes there were three or four men…Sometimes as many as nine or ten. GH thought that Bassam was taking lots of phone calls in relation to the Wycombe trips”


Two men were convicted at the same time as the five ringleaders who were jailed for life; just two. The names of the pigs are Assad Hussein and Zeeshan Ahmed. For their sexual offences against the victims they were jailed for seven years apiece.

Not one of the men who raped the children in High Wycombe. Paddington Station, Shotover Woods, etc, who paid money to torture and rape them, has been arrested.

No social worker has been sacked. The chief constable refuses to resign. So does the chief executive of Oxfordshire county council.

Where are the rapists? Where are the “customers”? Where is justice? WHEN WILL THE SYSTEM SAY EVERY RAPE COUNTS?

How Hillary Can Have the Last Laugh


If Hillary Clinton wins the Presidency, it’s going to be a case of Barack Who?

Hillary Clinton joined Twitter yesterday in a moment of social media fabulosity that had me thinking @CoryBooker should watch his back.

First, there was the unadulterated awesomeness of her Twitter bio.

“Wife, mom, lawyer, women & kids advocate, FLOAR, FLOTUS, US Senator, SecState, author, dog owner, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, glass ceiling cracker, TBD…”

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. The humour “hair icon, pantsuit aficionado” – the CV “lawyer, women & kids advocate, US Senator, SecState” the humanizing… “Wife, mom” – special props for putting “wife” before “mom” – the history… “lawyer, FLOAR, FLOTUS…” FLOAR is such a nice touch… First Lady of Arkansas… reminding us she’s been in the game a long time, some props to Bill’s home state, deprived and unglamorous. It’s the global victrix’s “Jenny from the Block” moment. “Dog owner” – well, if you hate Hillary you just hate puppies. And the glorious ending, “…TBD…” To be determined.

You know what this is? This is Daily Show, Stephen Colbert politics. And I’m not really even using that as a metaphor. So many Americans get their only politicial fix from those shows that she is heading like an exocet missile for the demographic that matters.

And now let’s move on to the avi. And her first tweet. Which was:

Thanks for the inspiration @ASmith83 & @Sllambe – I’ll take it from here… #tweetsfromhillary

This is a reference to the Texts from Hillary tumblr, the funniest political meme in years. She used their main photo as her Twitter avatar. She checks them for inspiration. She @s them. One of the creators responded with the perfect Onion-esque “Area Tweeter Doesn’t Know What To Do With Himself.”

Why does any of this matter? Well, she’s definitely running. I said as much in my Sun on Sunday column months ago after meeting fundraisers who had been at her house discussing the PAC. Secondly, it shows how she is running. She has used her time away from politics to become a kind of legend. Obama graciously gave her clout, but she kept her distance; when Susan Rice was messing up over Benghazi Clinton just stayed quiet.

I know about the Benghazi scandal; it will be old news in 2016. Old, old news. Attempts to revive it by the GOP will have voters rolling their eyes. Unfair? Sure. But there’s no crying in baseball.

Clinton is using humour and feminism “women & kids advocate, glass ceiling cracker” to show the authentic her; to take away any age-related beefs, because her humour makes her seem the most on-it, hippest candidate around; and to pitch to women, who defeated Mitt Romney en bloc.

She’s going for youth. Traditionally a worthless vote. Not last election. Not this election. And she’s going for women. “Glass ceiling cracker, pantsuit aficionado, TBD.”

I’m dead serious about the Daily Show pitching. When my stepdaughter arrived at a university in the key swing state of Ohio last autumn, they were registering the students to vote the same day they arrived. Youth turned out for Obama last election. First election it has ever really shown up. And that is a sea-change in the electoral mathematics.

I think she will run and I think she will win. And it would be very very hard not to vote for her. Even though I support Governor Christie, and he is the best the GOP has got, running against a woman, and one as popular and competent as Hillary, is a tough, tough battle.

If Clinton wins, she will be the most successful woman in history. Barack Obama slaughtered her in a primary that she was supposed to win at a canter, but none of that will matter if Hillary Clinton becomes the first woman President. His achievement would then remain historical, and vital, but it would be dwarfed by that of a woman becoming the most powerful person alive for the first time in history. Obama’s second term is being horribly tarnished right now, with the IRS, AP, PRISM, and Benghazi scandals, with Eric Holder, and the costs of Obamacare kicking in. When Bill Clinton took the stage for Obama at the DNC during the Presidential campaign he was greeted with more enthusiasm than Obama himself. And rightly so; as good as Obama is, Clinton is galactic distances better.

Hillary lost the primary, the Presidency, and got the consolation prize of State. But if she wins in 2016, she will have the last laugh. It will be her face, and not Obama’s, that defines the modern era, progress, and liberation. And she has the chance to do it right, and to achieve great and centrist things for America, and for women’s rights across the globe. And on the latter point, I believe she’s enough of a feminist to actually do that; to hold the Saudis and others much more accountable.

And even though Michelle Obama kicks major league ass, Bill Clinton will be a much, much cooler First Gentleman.

You go girl.

photo by SSkennel

The Campaign to Ban Rape Porn is Far Too Broadly Drawn


I have been campaigning, and will continue to do so, for the Sentencing Council and the law to reflect the severity of possessing and distributing child rape images.

Women must also demand far tougher sentencing guidelines on rape and trafficking into rape.

As a reminder, to own large numbers of images of children being sadistically tortured or forced into bestiality, the starting point is one year.

For many women gang-raped daily in brothels in the most serious case, the traffickers got eight years. Out in four.

That’s the landscape on which British law operates, and which we must rise against.

However, over the last week or so campaigners I normally support and whose natural ally I am have launched a petition which makes me nervous and which I could not, in conscience, sign.

They want to ban all depictions of rape in acted pornography.

There is already a requirement in law that such depictions be obviously staged with “production values”. If that sounds comical, it isn’t – it’s designed to catch youtube videos of women being actually raped and assaulted.

Campaigners say they want to prevent or ban the following things; “extreme” rape scenarios featuring torture, pretend incest scenarios, scenarios where actresses who are eighteen are dressed or digitally altered to look far younger.

I think there is a case for banning at least the latter two categories. The law in Britain already makes it illegal to own digitised or altered or traced or drawn images of child rape/abuse (distinguishing itself from the US). This is because of the harm that could arise to children by feeding such fantasies. On the same basis, actresses pretending to be far younger or in incest scenarios are feeding the precisely same harm as traced or altered images of child rape or abuse. So far, an important addition to the law.

But to ban all images of rape itself goes far too far.

Campaigners already say that art or fantasy depictions in movies, books etc would be exempt. Consider many scenes from “Rome” for example. If classified by the BBFC they are not porn.

However, campaigners against rape – which I hope we all are – MUST be aware of free speech and where the line of incitement is truly drawn.

Not too long ago, a most dignified man, the barrister Simon Walsh, 50, was put through a disgraceful obscenity trial for owning pictures of violent pornography consenually taken, including “fisting”. He was cleared, but not before public humiliation at having his private life and sexuality exposed.


This is not a scenario feminists should campaign for as it affects other men and women. Pornography of rape that is clearly dramatized, and consensually made and shot, and does not involve imagery of children or incest, is not necessarily an incitement to actual rape. This campaign would criminalise all those indulging in consensual BDSM pornography. Yes this is embarassing to blog and talk about, but it is a lot better than having somebody like Mr. Hughes go through the dreadful national humiliation of his pornography trial.

Rape fantasy is an incredibly common female fantasy. It is VITAL that we distinguish this fantasy from rape apology, rape excuse, or anything to do with real rape. Psychologists have various explanations for the prevalence of rape fantasy in women, from its being a way for strong women to surrender control to the simpler variant of the woman who wishes to think of herself as a quote-unquote good girl, a virtuous woman, and in her dreams is simply overpowered so that sexual activity is not “her fault” and her “virtue” remains intact. In these fantasies the rapist looks like Khal Drogo from Game of Thrones and the woman finds it an enjoyable experience – it could not be more different from supporting or wishing for an actual rape in real life. Women are not stupid, and they can draw a perfectly clear distinction between fantasy and reality. The women who purchased 50 Shades of Grey – and no, I am not one of them – did not really want to be hurt by an aging billionaire.

It is important that in protecting women and children we are quite clear about what actual rape is and what incitement to hurt children is. Legislation to criminalise a community of fetishists is not right. I may not share their fetish nor am I in the same boat as Mr. Hughes, but adding ordinary, filmed, and consensually dramatised rape scenes – even involving, as in his case, some consensually undertaken depictions of pain – the government should NOT ban it, and as a feminist and one who will be concentrating on rape sentencing and the judges and quangoes who minimise it, I cannot support the campaign as it is written. It is illiberal and wrong and tramples on sexual rights.

photo by Rocketeer

Why doesn’t UK law understand rape and child abuse?


Following my blog on child rape, and multiple gang rapes in brothels being labeled “prostitution”, and multiple rapes within the home being labelled “forced marriage”, I wanted to show why all of this matters in practice.

It’s not just some PC blog about nomenclature. It’s about the fact that in the UK, rape and sexual abuse is happening every day and literally being ignored by the law.

The news in Britain today is of a teacher who has been given a police caution for viewing 143 sexually abusive images of children on his computer. A civil service panel, independent of politicians, has decided he will be allowed to return to teaching. Here is the story:


The focus of most news coverage is why the “independent panel” said this man can work again in schools. I hate almost all quangos; I believe politicians should be in charge whenever possible, and/or positions should be elected. You can fire your MP or councillor, but not a quango. This panel is unaccountable to anyone.

But I don’t want to digress. Politicians are saying they will attempt to intervene, but what happens to this individual child abuser is not as important as demanding a change in the law.

He received a police caution, for:

1. Visiting a website and viewing six images of child abuse

2. Accessing, downloading and viewing 143 sexually abusive pictures of children at the lowest end of the scale [the COPINE scale, which means pictures of children viewed for sexual gratification]

3. Having a further 46 images of children being sexually abused by having nude or underwear photographs taken of them secretly in places they are supposed to be safe, such as playgrounds or nurseries

For all of this, the abuser receives a police caution. Of course there are gradations in the severity of child sexual abuse, just as there are aggravating factors to a crime as horrific as rape. Gang rape or twenty instances of rape are even worse than one instance of rape. There are gradations to any crime. It is even worse to murder twenty people than one person, it is even worse to torture a person before murdering them than to murder them.That does not mean, however, that the initial crime is made less severe because there are even worse gradations of it.

Here are the CPS’s gradations of abusive images:

Level one: Images of erotic posing, with no sexual activity;

Level two: Non-penetrative sexual activities between children, or solo masturbation by a child;

Level three: Non-penetrative sexual activity between adults and children;

Level four: Penetrative sexual activity involving a child or children, or both children and adults;

Level five: Sadism or involving the penetration of, or by, an animal.”

Here are the sentencing guidelines. Prepare to be very shocked.


I understand if you cannot bring yourself to read the insanely low sentences mandated for owning child abuse pictures, so here is just a single example:

“Type/nature of activity: Possession of a large quantity of level 4 or 5 material for personal use only Large number of level 3 images shown or distributed  

Starting points: 12 months custody  
Sentencing ranges: 26 weeks – 2 years custody”

The British public is often being accused of being in a “paedo panic” or of Brass-Eye type hysteria being whipped up where no child abuse exists. This may be true. But these links I am posting are not tabloid exaggeration. They are Crown Prosecution Services sentencing guidelines.

Children are abused and tormented for photographs and films because there is a market for those photographs and films. Any man (and the occasional woman) who deliberately, and for gratification, views one of these images is guilty of the abuse in the image.

There are real, actual children in these images. At present, for owning a “large number” of images sadistic, penetrative rape of children by adults and animals, the Crown thinks you should get a year in jail. With good behavior, out in six months. Top sentence, two years. Out in one.

What the hell?

For viewing and owning pictures of children viewed abusively, this child abuser, who fully admitted they were child abuse pictures, received a caution. A caution. For abusing 143 children, or a smaller number of children abused 143 times when photos, like swimwear, are grouped in the context of gratification. A police caution. And the right to go back to his job.

I would like you, the reader, to try to imaging one hundred and forty three children. Is that, for example, half the children in your local village primary school? Every child in your local nursery school? This man abused that many children by creating a market for abusive photos of them, and he gets a caution.

In my more serious example, you can actually distribute large numbers of  Level Three images of children being sexually abused by adults (note terminology “sexual activity between children and adults” – there is no such thing, there is “non-penetrative sexual abuse of children by adults” – and your maximum sentence is two years. Out in one.

Now let’s look at sentencing for the ongoing gang-rape of women trafficked into brothels (CPS language – “forced to “work as prostitutes” ie to be daily gang-raped by men).


Here is their sentencing guideline for the most serious cases.

“The following cases provide guidelines on sentencing and reflect the degree of coercion, force and violence used in the exploitation of their victims:

R v Plakici [2005] 1 Cr.App.R.(S.) 19, Attorney General’s Reference (No 6 of 2004) dealt with a series of individual offences that amounted to an extremely serious case of trafficking. The offender had arranged for the illegal entry of women and young girls into this country in circumstances that involved both deception and coercion and forced them to work as prostitutes. Counts of illegal entry attracted sentences of 5 years, of living on immoral earning 5 years, of kidnapping 10 years, and of incitement to rape, 8 years. A total sentence of 23 years was imposed.”

Right, so, what we have here are human traffickers who kidnapped girls and women and had them raped again and again, every day, in their brothels. Try to imagine being one of those girls. Being raped perhaps ten times a day. Every day. Year in, year out. Knowing other women are suffering as you are suffering.

“Who’s counting?” says the British justice system. For all of those rapes together, the convicted gang rapist gets…. eight years.

This is the reality of rape and child sexual abuse and rape in the UK today. We don’t have a “pedo panic” we have institutionlised, state-sanctioned blind eyes turned to horrors Stephen King would shy about describing. We have joke sentences for the worst crimes imaginable against the bodies and dignity of women and children. Don’t settle for “Level One images”. Fuck your clinical terminology. Those are actual children being actually abused. A thousand rapes deserves life in prison, no parole.

When will get judges and politicians who see rape for what it is? Women must rise and demand a change in the law.