Sep 27 2010
Sebastian Shakespeare, columnist for This is London, has news about Orlando Figes in conjunction with the forthcoming UK release of his next book Crimea: The Last Crusade. After a summer on sick leave after his sock puppet reviews scandal, Orlando Figes is back to work at Birkbeck College. Not all are happy. Shakespeare writes:
Birkbeck College has agreed to take him back full-time. “After a period of sick leave, Professor Orlando Figes has been on a phased return to work,” a spokesman tells me in a statement. “Following college procedures, Birkbeck has investigated all aspects of his involvement in the recent events reported in the press. As with any other members of staff, this process is confidential. Professor Figes has apologised to the college, its staff and students for the events. The college supports his return to work full-time.”
Some may applaud Birkbeck for standing by its man, especially as he cited illness as an explanation for his misdeeds. Even so, it is odd how an investigation could have been conducted without consulting Polonsky and Service. Neither of them, it transpires, were asked to give evidence. . . .the college made no attempt to distance itself, or at the very least publicly disapprove of his behaviour. This still rankles with Service and other historians. “I’m surprised it’s taken Birkbeck so long to make a statement,” says Paul Lay, editor of History Today and a former pupil of Birkbeck.
“The fact that it’s taken them such a long time to make a statement and that it had to be wheedled out of them reflects badly on the college. It leaves a bad smell and doesn’t really resolve the issue. There is still a great deal of bitterness there on both sides.”