The post I wrote on Saturday about the case of Bode versus Mundell had attracted a lot of attention on this blog over the past few days, and has led to a number of people sending me private messages and emails, mainly about wider aspects of the case.
Most of these have expressed thanks for bringing this matter to the attention of the astronomy community. Others have been extremely critical of my post. The rest have contents that I cannot possibly disclose here. Or anywhere else.
For the record I have no regrets whatsoever about writing what I did. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the libel action it seems to me that the publicity arising from its failure has revealed an apparent failure of process, in that a charge of sexual harassment was raised but never properly resolved.
After much thought I have decided not to accept the invitation by Dr Chris Simpson to discuss the harassment case in person via Skype. There are two main reasons for this.
One is that I do not feel it would be appropriate to get only one side of the story and am clearly unable to talk to whoever made the complaint to see the other side. Their identity is rightly not in the public domain. In other words it is precisely in the interest of balance that I am not going to be drawn into further discussion of the original harassment allegations with one of the parties to the case and not the other(s).
The other reason is that the most important point I wanted to make in my post was not about whether the harassment complaint would or would not have been upheld (which was not an in issue in the court case either) but that the investigation ended before a resolution could be reached one way or the other. Lessons need to be learnt if we are to reach a situation in which bona fide complainants have sufficient confidence in the process to make it worthwhile coming forward.Follow @telescoper