Blogging Boffin Busted

A Cambridge Law lecturer has been cleared of sabotaging publications by her husband’s rivals, after her husband admitted to it himself.

A Cambridge Law lecturer has been cleared of sabotaging publications by her husband's rivals, after her husband admitted to it himself.

Leading Birkbeck historian historian Professor Orlando Figes confessed to posting anonymous reviews of his rivals' works online.

Blogging boffin Orlando Figes

Wife Stephanie Palmer, senior Law lecturer and fellow of Girton College had taken the wrap for the blogging, which smeared other historians' works as "dull" and "awful". 

However, Palmer has been let off the hook as Figes, who achieved a double first class degree from Cambridge, admitted that she was simply trying to cover for him.

The slanderous reviews were penned under names such as “Orlando-Brikbeck” and “Historian”, and have since been removed by Amazon. 

Cambridge historian Dr Rachel Polonsky raised the alarm after her own book, 'Molotov’s Magic Lantern', fell victim to Figes' rogue reviewing. 

Polonsky's book had beaten Figes to the prestigious Samuel Johnson Prize.

The review described Polonsky’s work as “hard to follow”, while at the same time praising Professor Figes’ book as “fascinating”.

Figes involved his lawyer, David Price, to defend his reputation, claiming that the Amazon account used for reviewing could not be traced to the historian.

Suddenly however, Price released a statement claiming Figes' wife was responsible for the reviews and that the couple were hoped to resolve the situation personally.

Days later, Figes, who is now on sick leave, said he had authored the reviews. He “apologised wholeheartedly” to all those affected, but maintained that the reviews were “not intended to harm”.

Robert Service, a victim of Figes rouge reviews, said the actions were “disgraceful”.

This clears the Cambridge Law Faculty of any scandal, but raises questions about the academic world itself. The scandal echoes the actions last year of Ruth Padel, who orchestrated a smear campaign against Derek Walcott, her rival for the position of Oxford Professor of Poetry.