Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
The former IPCC chairman says he’s the victim of a conspiracy. But conspiracies can’t be exposed if journalists are silenced.
Rajendra Pachauri, the disgraced former chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, will be back in court this Tuesday. His lawyers will attempt, one more time, to block media coverage of the serious sexual accusations leveled against him.
Last February, Pachauri’s lawyers secured a temporary publication ban. But they did so by approaching the court ex parte – without notice to the other parties involved: the media, the police, and the female complainant’s lawyer. With no one in the room providing an alternative perspective, Pachauri’s lawyers claimed he was the victim of a shadowy, unidentified conspiracy intent on harming his reputation as an international climate official. In the words of the presiding judge, Pachauri’s lawyers argued that allowing the media to report on the case would
give success to the conspiracy which is aimed to destroy the reputation standing goodwill and repute of the plaintiff.
The next day, after hearing from media lawyers, the judge reversed his decision. According to articles published in the Indian Express and the Business Standard, Pachauri now wants this matter revisited.
In the months since this story broke, Pachauri has provided no reasonable counter-explanation of what went on. First, he insisted that his electronic devices had been hacked over a 16-month period by the above-mentioned conspiracy. This seems highly improbable and fails to address the fact that many of the allegations against him have nothing to do with electronic devices. They’re about unwelcome physical contact such as forcible kissing and workplace groping.
Next, 74-year-old Pachauri claimed that – rather than being invented whole cloth by unknown conspiracists – the boatload of incriminating e-mails and text messages the 29-year-old complainant turned over to police were written by someone else at The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) he leads. According to this version of events, Pachauri shared his account passwords with others. Ergo, it must have been a staff member in his own office who sent the complainant love poems under his name. It must have been a subordinate who threatened that Pachauri would stop eating unless the complainant said she believed he loved her.
TERI must be a bizarre workplace, indeed, if anyone there imagined they could get away with impersonating the big boss for more than a year. But this ridiculous explanation also relies on the idea that the complainant couldn’t tell the difference between Pachauri and someone else when she was being kissed against her will.
Those of us who’ve followed Pachauri’s career have long marveled at his lack of class. The notion that he’d try to transfer responsibility for crimes of which he himself stands accused to an underling is, however, a new low.
It’s worth noting that most of the Western media continue to ignore this story. Many news outlets haven’t bothered to mention the fact that the world’s most important climate entity lost its 13-year chairman on February 24th after he was accused of sex offenses in which prison sentences of up to seven years apply.
So the target of the publication ban appears to be Indian journalists. Since the allegations against Pachauri have attracted ample media attention in that country, one wonders what would be gained by shutting down press coverage now. If I were being framed by a conspiracy, I’d desperately want the world to hear my side of the story. A conspiracy can’t be exposed if the media isn’t allowed to talk about it.
Who knows what tale the court will hear this Tuesday. Perhaps Pachauri will try to blame space aliens next.
Donna Laframboise is a Canadian investigative journalist and author of the 2013 book, Into the Dustbin: Rajendra Pachauri, the Climate Report & the Nobel Peace Prize. See Amazon.com, Amazon India, and other Amazon stores.