First female Oxford Professor of Poetry resigns over smear scandal

May 26th, 2009 - 2:26 pm ICT by ANI  

London, May 26 (ANI): The first woman to become the Oxford Professor of Poetry has resigned following allegation that she was involved in a smear campaign against a rival.

Ruth Padel, a great-great granddaughter of Charles Darwin, insisted she had not engaged in smear tactics and had done “nothing intentional” to lead fellow contender Derek Walcott to pull out of the vote.

Walcott, 79 - who had been the favourite to win the job which is regarded as one of the most influential in UK poetry behind that of the laureateship - withdrew following an anonymous letter campaign.

“I genuinely believe that I did nothing intentional that led to Derek Walcott’s withdrawal from the election. I wish he had not pulled out,” the Telegraph quoted Professor Padel as saying in a statement.

“I did not engage in a smear campaign against him, but, as a result of student concern, I naively - and with hindsight unwisely - passed on to two journalists, whom I believed to be covering the whole election responsibly, information that was already in the public domain.

“I acted in complete good faith, and would have been happy to lose to Derek, but I can see that people might interpret my actions otherwise.

“I wish to do what is best for the University and I understand that opinion there is divided.

“I therefore resign from the Chair of Poetry. I hope wounds will now heal and I wish the next professor all the best,” she added.

Oxford University sources said a new election would now be held.

A spokeswoman for Oxford University said: “We respect the decision that Ruth Padel has taken. This has been a difficult chapter for all concerned and a period of reflection may now be in order.” (ANI)

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