This is the reply I received 29 April 2014 from the Guardian Readers’ Editor:
Dear Mr Chambers,
The role of the readers’ editor is, indeed, to investigate a complaint and come to a conclusion. When we have come to a conclusion with which a complainant disagrees she or he is free to use any alternative course of action that an individual feels open to her or him. I have now reviewed your complaint with colleagues. In my view, it is unfounded.
First, I believe that the letters and emails received by Frontiers and/or UWA, the magazine, which led to their decision to pull their link to the researcher’s article (http://www.desmogblog.com/sites/beta.desmogblog.com/files/Recursive%20FOI%20complaints.pdf) and obtained in an anonymised form through an FOI request, provide clear evidence of both a bullying tone and threats of legal action. For instance, one piece of correspondence dated 30 April 2013 from a complainant refers to a researcher whose name is redacted, suggesting (at page 12) the university must be ‘greatly relieved that this third rate academic has left UWA’ and that his research is ‘nonsense’. The same letter complains about a previous response to the complainant from an ‘underling tame professor’. Other letters/emails of complaint make threats to bring a ‘formal complaint’ and to contact the ethical committees of ‘universities concerned’. Further examples of correspondence accuse one of the researchers involve of ‘falsifying data’ and the ‘alleged data fraud’.
A complainant in the FOI correspondence also alleges defamation against the researchers. An email dated 5 April 2013 repeatedly uses the word defamation. The reply from Frontiers of the same date makes clear that they removed their link to the article complained of because of the allegation of defamation (see page 22 of the correspondence). A previous email dated 5 April 2013, apparently from the same complainant, says (at page 29) ‘I should also remind that, if this proceeds to legal action, any court or tribunal would take a very poor view of you attempting to impose an arbitrary and unreasonable deadline….’
On 4th April, a complainant (presumably the same one) wrote (at page 30): ‘I have sought legal advice which confirmed…I could potentially have a defamation action against the authors and publishers of this paper’. The same email says: ‘Obviously, I understand that any legal action would have to be prosecuted under my real identity.’
Moreover, you say in your email (below) to me: “I’ve been rude about Lewandowsky, calling him a liar, a fraud, a charlatan and a fool, but I haven’t bullied anyone.” I disagree. That is a bullying tone.
You and Steve McIntyre are not mentioned in the Guardian article. You are both featured in Redfern’s blog. Redfearn links to both your own online publications regarding this matter: your point of view and your own statements are included in the Redfearn blog that mentions them. Your comments, Mr Chambers, also appear with that article. You have both already ‘replied’ or had your views reflected in the same places you are named. There is no need for a further reply in the Guardian and I don’t propose to take any further action. You are, as I said at the beginning, free to take any other action that you feel is open to you. I am unable to help you any further.
I replied today as follows:
Dear Mr Elliott,
Thank you for your reply of 29 April. I’ve been away on holiday, which is why I haven’t replied before. In the interest of bringing this long and tedious correspondence to a close, it might be useful to summarise it. My first letter of March 30th began:
“I’m writing to complain about this article which is factually incorrect and defamatory of myself and of Steve McIntyre”.
After a description of the defamatory nature of the article, I continued:
“It is clear from the above, and from the statement by the editors of the journal themselves, that the accusation of “bullying” in Nuccitelli’s article is baseless.”
The replies by Ms Harper and yourself are entirely devoted to the question of whether the article is defamatory. They deal with this (quite ably I may say) by accusing the anonymous writers of letters of complaint of adopting “a bullying tone”. The letters of complaint referred to are a selection of those reproduced by Graham Redfearn from the FOI request which presumably he authored (my letter of complaint is not among them).
You further subsume under the heading of“adopting a bulling tone” what you describe as “threats to bring a ‘formal complaint’ and to contact the ethical committees of ‘universities concerned’”.
Does the Guardian really believe that bringing formal complaints to government-funded bodies constitutes bullying?
[It’s slightly off-topic, but I’d like to point out that I’m a fervent defender of the Guardian‘s publicising ofthe actions of the British and American secret services. It’s all about getting the facts out to the public. Facts are sacred, or scarce, or scary, or something.]
See paras 14ff of
“Moreover, you say in your email (below) to me: ‘I’ve been rude about Lewandowsky, calling him a liar, a fraud, a charlatan and a fool, but I haven’t bullied anyone.’ I disagree. That is a bullying tone.”
Call it a bullying tone if you like. I’d say it’s my polite way of saying that Lewandowsky is a total arsehole (No, not totally. I’ve praised him on my blog for his courageous stand against the torture condoned and possibly practised by the US and British governments. And if ever some future British or US government tries to limit his academic freedom in any way, I’ll be the first to defend him – though he may not thank me for that).
You and Ms Harper have failed to deal with the fact that the headline to the Nuccitelli article falsely accuses the journal “Frontiers in Psychological Science” of giving in to bullying.
Those who sent letters of complaint to “Frontiers” (me, Steve McIntyre, Anthony Watts and others) deny the accusations of bullying. “Frontiers” deny having being bullied. Nuccitelli deals with this embarrassing situation by accusing the editors of “Frontiers” of lying. I have two simple questions for the Guardian:
1) Do you stand by the title of this article?
2) Do you stand by Nuccitelli’s statement that the editors of “Frontiers” are lying when they deny being bullied?
I await a prompt response to these two simple questions. Otherwise I shall be submitting a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission.