Simply lacking in expertise (1 of 2)

September 8, 2011

What an extraordinarily unpleasant letter from David Marsland ("A conspiracy against academic freedom", 1 September).

The main objection of the historians to which he refers to David Starkey's comments on BBC Two's Newsnight about the recent riots was not based upon what Marsland calls their Stalinism, Trotskyism, prejudice or neurotic anxiety: it was based upon the fact that Starkey has no expertise in the matters upon which he pronounced ("Starkey's ignorance is hardly work of history", 25 August).

No amount of reheated Cold War rhetoric and spiteful insinuation can rebut this fact, nor does stating it constitute an "assault on academic freedom" in any meaningful sense of the term.

Christopher Grey, Hertfordshire

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