The Smear Storm Widens

Those who made false accusations against Rajendra Pachauri are now turning their fire on me.

By George Monbiot, posted 19th September 2010.

So smear follows smear. Not content with flinging false accusations at Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in the hope that some of them would stick, climate change deniers are using one false story as the occasion to launch another. A blog post at the Bishop Hill site, now being copied widely around the web, accuses me of “covering up” evidence against Dr Pachauri by having comments deleted from a Guardian web page.

To put the record straight, I have never asked for a comment to be deleted from a Guardian thread. Not just on this occasion, but on any occasion. It is a point of principle for me that people should be able to say whatever they like, however challenging or offensive it may be – provided that it does not incite violence. As a result the only two contacts I have ever had with Guardian moderators were:

– a request, relayed through one of the comment editors two years ago, that they stop deleting messages critical of me from the threads. I want to see these comments and I want to respond to them.

– a request that they politely ask one of the commenters (who lives in my home town) if he could refrain from posting details about my house and garden on the thread.

My response to criticism or challenge is not to silence it but to answer it. I saw none of the posts I allegedly asked to have removed, was not consulted on their removal and had no part in the decision to stop the thread. I was not even aware of their existence until this new smear started circulating yesterday.

As for the content of the deleted messages, they still fail to provide any evidence of the false charges against Pachauri that my posts refuted. No evidence that he has been “making a fortune from his links with ‘carbon trading’ companies”. No evidence that the money he has made while working for other organisations “must run into millions of dollars”, no evidence of “highly lucrative commercial jobs”, no evidence that payments he has received caused a “conflict of interest” with his IPCC role. That’s what I asked for, and that is what I have yet to receive.

UPDATE: 0630, 20th September. Last night I asked the Guardian about this and I’ve just received a reply. They say the posts were removed for legal reasons. The Guardian’s lawyers were concerned that I was challenging people to post libellous material on the site, for which, under England’s defamation laws, it would be legally responsible.