Sunday, 27 April 2014

Dr. Paula Boddington and the Chronology Protection Conjecture

[UPDATE 2: 19 May 2014
For further information, please see Update 1 at the bottom. I put this at the start so readers can see the correction. This blogpost disputes a wild allegation against me, an allegation whose truth would require me travelling in time from 2012 back to 2011. The news reports (e.g., The Daily Mail), for an inquest earlier this year, containing this outrageous allegation cite as evidence “a statement by Mr. Fardell, read to the inquest”. But Mr. Fardell has now stated clearly he did not make the time-travelling allegation. And so, Correction: I have to take Mr. Fardell at his word: he did not make the time-travelling allegation against me in the witness statement. Perhaps the allegation was made in other documents used. Or perhaps it was simply made up by the press. In any case, my condolences to Mr. Fardell for losing someone he cared for.

I keep this post below as is (note: update 3 (23 May 2014): I have now crossed out references to Mr. Fardell and correctly attributed them to the outrageous story reported in the Daily Mail, called "the most accurate report" by Dr. Paula Boddington, and I have changed the title to clarify Dr. Boddington's interventions). The reports are all over the national press and appear in google searches. This is what happens when untested anonymous accusations are made, and no right of reply permitted. As it stands, an anomynous and preposterous allegation was reported (or perhaps made up) in The Daily Mail and elsewhere. No one has the courage to say who made this allegation. The wild allegation cannot be removed from these reports, or even corrected, because it was "heard at an inquest". Ms. Boddington, a “philosopher at Oxford”, attended the inquest and stated publicly, “the most accurate report of the evidence presented at the inquest is actually to be found in The Daily Mail”. I shall therefore return to Ms. Boddington’s curious, and seemingly obsessive, involvement in this saga later.]


Many followers of this blog have expressed concerns about recent events in Oxford, which naturally have kept me away from blogging. Here I would like to connect some of these events with one of the topics I enjoy discussing here: physics.

In testimony presented to a Coroner's inquest, which I was not invited to respond to, Mr Fardell made a number of assertions about the late Ms Charlotte Coursier, some of them in relation to me. It is unfortunate that he did this, as it had been Ms Coursier's express desire that none of these events be publicized, and indeed for this reason the University of Oxford did not even inform me of her account of events there until after her tragic suicide. Mr Fardell has therefore left me with no choice but to present my side of the story.

However, here I shall not discuss events at Oxford, but rather Mr Fardell's outrageous story the outrageous story reported in the Daily Mail, called "the most accurate report" by Dr. Paula Boddington, about what transpired between Ms Coursier and myself on the way there. In Mr Fardell's testimony testimony reported in the Daily Mail, called "the most accurate report" by Dr. Boddington, much publicized in the news and certain philosophy blogs, it was claimed that I "followed" Ms Coursier to Oxford.

The facts are these. I applied to Oxford on 20 November 2011, and informed her of this. I first informed her of my acceptance on 21 Feb 2012. She first informed me of her acceptance (and indeed that she had applied, and to nowhere else) on 7 March 2012. She applied, it turns out, on 6 January 2012.

For Mr Fardell's account the outrageous story reported in the Daily Mail, called "the most accurate report" by Dr. Paula Boddington, to be correct, my path through spacetime would have to have been as depicted in this diagram:
Similarly, Ms Coursier arrived in Oxford two months after I arrived there with my wife and son.

This sort of casual pathway involves time-travel and is physically impossible, so far as we know (unless our own physical spacetime violates Professor Stephen Hawking's Chronology Protection Conjecture).

There is simply no sense in which Mr Fardell's assertion the outrageous story reported in the Daily Mail, called "the most accurate report" by Dr. Paula Boddington, that I "followed" Ms Coursier to Oxford is true.

[UPDATE 1. 18 May 2014:
An acquaintance of mine, Mr. Michael Ezra, has blogged on this ridiculous allegation against me, in a post "The Time-Travelling Philosopher". In the comments to that, there is a comment by Dr. Alasdair Richmond; and Mr. Fardell responds, denying he made this allegation, despite it being present in multiple news reports, which cite as evidence for their story a "statement by Mr. Fardell, read to the inquest" (The Daily Mail). Since I was not present at this inquest and do not know what material was given to journalists, I do not know. Note that Ms. Paula Boddington, a "philosopher at Oxford", states,
As someone - one of the few - who attended the inquest into the death of Charlotte Coursier, I can tell you that the most accurate report of the evidence presented at the inquest is actually to be found in the Daily Mail
Ms. Boddington therefore believes The Daily Mail's time-travelling assertion that I "followed" Ms. Coursier to Oxford to be "the most accurate report of the evidence presented at the inquest". Ms. Boddington does not disclose the source. But I shall take Mr. Fardell at his word in his denial; readers can interpret the phrase "Mr. Fardell's account" as "the account given in news reports citing as evidence a statement by Mr. Fardell". Perhaps the allegation was made anonymously. Perhaps Ms. Boddington is confused about what she heard or what she read. In any case, this further highlights the dangerous precedent of unexamined anonymous allegations.

The fact of the matter is the exact reverse. Contrary to the news reports, it was Ms. Coursier who, infatuated with me, sent me many messages and emails through 2011 while I worked in Germany, as many eyewitnesses know, and who later followed me to Oxford, having learnt I applied in November 2011 and who then went on to apply in January 2012 (without me knowing) and to nowhere else. I learnt of this in March 2012, much to my shock.

I've replied to Mr. Fardell's comment at the "Under the Ocular Tree" blog, and mentioned his further false allegations against me, as follows:
Glad it has now been clarified that Charlotte decided to apply to Oxford having learnt I already had, in November 2011; and that she then went on to apply in 2012 and applied nowhere else. So, the direction of “following” should be apparent from these facts. 
You are quoted, Ben, in the press as saying I harmed Charlotte in Edinburgh. Contrary to what you told the police, upon graduation she emailed me in Munich thanking me for saving her degree and also her life. I did indeed save her from an overdose and other suicide attempts; her life did improve after she met me. Two months after graduating, Charlotte added, “for three years Jeffrey you were my world, I loved you more than I’ve loved anyone. You put so much on the line to help me”. 
In Oxford, during your relationship, with its “issues of trust and commitment” and abortion drama, Charlotte’s life declined and she started contacting me. When I requested she stop contacting me, you then escalated her response to this so severely that I was not able to get the police to help her — though I tried, on 5 June 2013. You then dumped her on 10 June, ignored her suicide threat and left her to die.
This is my email to the police, 5 June 2013:

This is the reply from the police officer, saying he could only make it on 12 June:

12 June was too late. Ms. Coursier took her own life on 10 June.

Two other commenters on the thread there raised perhaps relevant material. The first is the case of Professor Robert Fine of Warwick University, who was stalked by a student and who later wrote a classic memoir, Being Stalked, on the saga. The second is the story of a revenge suicide by Mary Kennedy, who suffered borderline personality disorder.]


  1. There appears to be a response from Mr Fardell in the comments over here:

  2. "You then dumped her on 10 June, ignored her suicide threat and left her to die."

    Wow. What a grossly insensitive and ill-conceived comment.

  3. Because destroying innocent people's lives with vicious slander is simply jolly good fun, right? It was Mr. Fardell whose statement contains the vicious slander that I "abused" someone, after he dumped her and left her to die. And the fact is I did no such thing; the exact opposite in fact. People need to check the facts before they engage in vicious slander that ruins other people's lives.

  4. In other words, it is *your* comment that grossly insensitive and ill-conceived, because you are abusing someone whose life (and whose family's life) has been ruined. I hope this is clear.

  5. Dear Jeffrey,
    Just in case you missed my latest comment on the 'Ocular Tree' blog, I offered there the following clarification re: the timing of Charlotte's application to Oxford:

    "My reference for Charlotte was dated January 5th 2012. However, Charlotte had decided to apply to Oxford by the end of July 2011. (The other referee for her Oxford application confirms this.) To the best of my knowledge, she did not formally apply elsewhere because she was assured of a PhD. place at Edinburgh had Oxford said ‘No’.

    One odd point is that on December 8th 2011, an e-mail posted to all the Edinburgh philosophy academic staff (and into which Jeff’s new Munich address was CC’ed) informed us that (and I quote) “Jeff Ketland will be leaving Edinburgh shortly to take up a post at the LMU in Munich”."

    See under comments at this link;

    I hope that clarifies things.

    Thank you,

    Alasdair Richmond

    1. Update (27/08/14): since posting the above, I've gathered some more data and I've made some further attempts at clarification on the 'Ocular Tree' blog, at the link above. At present, I have no plans to repeat the content of those commments here but I believe those contents have a direct bearing on the subject of this thread.
      Thank you,
      Alasdair Richmond

    2. Your attempts to excuse violent assault, harassment and stalking of an innocent family, over several years, have been noted. Further comments from you will be deleted.