Dear Dr Worms,
I write this letter in a personal capacity to express my views on the letter you sent to Dr Amaya Moro-Martin on behalf of the ESF, regarding her opinion piece in Nature. Note the word “opinion” and refer to Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (on page 11, it is only two very short paragraphs)
I made some brief comments on Dr Moro-Martin’s blog post earlier today,but thought it best to express my opinions directly to you – I appreciate that as a busy person you may not have the time to read blogs.
I do not know you, but I gather from your title, “Dr”, that you have had the benefit of considerable education – either a PhD or a medical degree. Also, from your first name, I would imagine that you have some links to francophone Europe. You must, therefore, be aware of fascism, often masquerading as nationalism, which is making political inroads in a number of European countries. In the UK, this is highlighted the promotion of UKIP by the British media and their candidate being elected to Parliament on Thursday this week. This side of politics lies and invents incidents to stir up xenophobia towards people and institutions. European institutions are a favourite target. One such target is the European Convention on Human Rights, the work of the Council of Europe. Your letter to Dr Moro-Martin will provide such people with ample ammunition and, for once, they don’t have to invent anything, they have a fact. Given the history of Europe from 1933 to 1945, one positive outcome of which was the European Convention on Human Rights, and the fact that ESF is a European institution, this is careless, to say the least. I note that if the matter is sub judice, it is a matter for the court to determine if an individual is in contempt, so the motive for the letter must lie elsewhere.
Your letter to Dr Moro-Martin is an act of pure cowardice. Why didn’t you send the letter to the publisher, Nature Publishing Group? Was it because they have deep pockets, because you didn’t want to upset one of the “glam” publishers in science or were you overawed by their impact factor? Did you think you could scare Dr Moro-Martin into silence, because she is just an individual?
This is contemptible. My view of the matter is unlikely to change until such time as you apologise and formally withdraw your letter to Dr Moro-Martin. MEanwhile, I will withdraw my labour from the ESF and urge all scientists across the world to do likewise – we too are somewhat busy and give that which is most precious, our time, to numerous extramural organisations. We should no longer give our time to the ESF, when it bullies other scientists.
My advice to Dr Moro-Martin in this matter is to follow the precedent of a famous “case” in British law – a “case” in quotes, because it never came to court. It is the letter sent to the legal representative of one Mr Arkell by the Pressdram legal team, following the receipt of a letter by Private Eye that is not so different from the one you have received from ESF.
We acknowledge your letter of 29th April referring to Mr. J. Arkell.
We note that Mr Arkell’s attitude to damages will be governed by the nature of our reply and would therefore be grateful if you would inform us what his attitude to damages would be, were he to learn that the nature of our reply is as follows: fuck off.
Update 15 October 2014 on the blog De Rerum Natura: ESF backs off for now but fails to rescind the threat of legal action or apologise