From: Anthony Brink [arbrink@iafrica.com]
Sent: 31 October 2008 05:03 PM
To: 'ferialh@mg.co.za'; 'Letters'
Cc: 'Joe Thloloe'

Importance: High

Dear Ferial

 

I refer to your ‘Matter of fact’ notice in your 24 October issue, which I spotted in a café on Wednesday afternoon, purporting to correct a claim I made in my opinion piece ‘Aids, lies and dissidents’ on the 10th:

 

Matter of fact

In an opinion piece responding to Ronald Suresh Roberts and published in these pages on October 10, Anthony Brink claimed that the reprint of Roberts’s book Fit to Govern was cancelled after allegations of plagiarism. The book was in fact reprinted (before any such allegations were made), and is still in print. The M&G regrets the error.

 

Actually, the claim I made is perfectly true and the contrary allegation made in the notice is false.

 

There was no error, and you had nothing to apologise for.

 

It seems clear that Roberts was the source of the misinformation you published.

 

The effect of it is to paint me as an unreliable writer who plays fast and free with the facts, when the converse is true; and in my exposé of Roberts’s extensive fraud and plagiarism in my book Lying and Thieving, and in my occasional letters to the newspapers about it, I have been scrupulously careful and meticulously accurate.

 

I appreciate that your misconceived correction wasn’t any deliberate attempt to make me look bad, but it does.

 

Having regard to the background of the matter, it was deplorably negligent, and your paper should have been on guard and particularly careful to check anything Roberts claimed before publishing it

 

1. You yourself have correctly noted on your blog that Roberts is a ‘peddler of lies’.

 

2. Your estimation of him was confirmed by the Cape High Court in his failed defamation case against the Sunday Times, in finding him ‘to be evasive, argumentative and an opportunistic witness … He was unconvincing, and his evidence was shown to be contradictory.’ This is to say, he’s a person who, even under oath, makes patently untruthful claims of fact, makes conflicting claims, and, when cornered under cross-examination and exposed as a liar, makes up fresh evidence as he goes along to try to escape the pinch of the shoe.

 

3. The Press Ombudsman’s Panel also agreed with you, finding him, like Weinkove AJ did, to be an ‘unconvincing’ witness, and pointedly remarking on his opportunistic attempt to manufacture a dishonest escape route when pinned down by the hard evidence of his plagiarism of my work.

 

4. Both you and your deputy Drew Forest have copies of Lying and Thieving, which I posted to you, in which Roberts’s phenomenal, habitual, endemic, systematic, and low-cunning dishonesty is detailed.

 

It would have been reasonable in the circumstances to verify his claim before publishing it and leaving me looking dishonest.

 

I work very hard in a field of contested knowledge with immense public policy ramifications, and my reputation for factual accuracy, and taking the utmost care to be accurate in what I write, is consequently all-important to me.

 

I take the strongest exception to your newspaper’s careless slur on my integrity accordingly.

 

I’ve attached a brief letter for the letters page of your next issue to repair some of the harm you’ve caused.

 

In my letter I quote Reedwaan Vally of STE Publishers; you can find a scanned copy of the relevant article in Die Burger in which he was originally quoted posted at www.lyingandthieving.com.

 

Yours sincerely




ANTHONY BRINK

 

Cc: The Press Ombudsman, Joe Thloloe