Need context in suffragette row 1

February 2, 2007

In reference to the attacks on me ("Row erupts over suffragette tale", January 26), how can there be a "row" over an article that has barely been published? Why cannot June Purvis and her friends wait until people can see what I have written?

I agree that the accuracy of my work and the quality of my scholarship are issues, but so are underhand behaviour, bullying, harassment and intimidation. Quite apart from Purvis's use of a surreptitiously obtained letter, The Times Higher refused to let me see what had been written against me and gave me the false impression that I would be replying only to Purvis.

The Times Higher did not tell me until the last moment that it had received "complaints" from others, and at no time did it say that it would be leading the attack.

I wrote a reply of 490 words that The Times Higher refused to publish in its entirety. When you again demanded a reply you offered even less space.

I am only too willing to defend my work and show what is wrong with that of Purvis and others, but I demand adequate space and some guarantees of editorial fairness.

Copies of this letter are being sent to staff in all UK history departments, so that the scholarly community can see whether The Times Higher is offering a forum for debate or is merely an attack dog let loose to savage people its friends do not like.

Christopher Bearman.
Chelmsford

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