Broadcaster and writer throws hat into ring amid row over Ruth Padel's tip-offs about rival Derek Walcott
James Sturcke in he guardian.co.uk, Monday 25 May 2009
Clive James. Photograph: Eamonn McCabe
The broadcaster and writer Clive James today said he would like to be Oxford professor of poetry amid the furore surrounding Ruth Padel's appointment to the post.
In an interview with the Guardian, James said the position, which dates back to 1708, and whose past occupants include WH Auden and Seamus Heaney, was his "dream job".
Padel, elected to the post nine days ago, is resisting calls to quit after it emerged that she tipped off newspapers about claims of sexual impropriety against her main rival, Derek Walcott, the Nobel laureate. Walcott, highly respected for his work on post-colonial Caribbean life, withdrew from the campaign days before the election after allegations resurfaced that he had propositioned students in the 1980s and 1990s.
In an interview with G2, James said the ensuing controversy was a "catastrophe because Derek Walcott is a great poet".
"It's a very bad reason to stop a 79-year-old man who has all the qualifications, including [the fact that] he would write brilliant lectures. It means a whole generation's going to miss out on his wisdom. For what? For a couple of cases that have been mouldering for 20-odd years."