Cambridge University Press has decided not to go forward with the publication of a Miami University professor’s book exploring corruption in Russia, citing fears that the book could become the subject of a libel lawsuit in the British courts, according to The Economist.
In the proposed book, Karen L. Dawisha, a professor of political science and a Russia expert, writes about President Vladimir V. Putin’s alleged links to organized crime. Last month she received a letter from John Haslam, the press’s executive publisher for political science and sociology, stating that the press would not proceed with the book.
“The decision has nothing to do with the quality of your research or your scholarly credibility,” he wrote. “It is simply a question of risk tolerance in light of our limited resources.”
British laws are known for favoring plaintiffs in libel lawsuits more so than American laws are, although there have been efforts to change London’s reputation as the “libel capital of the world.”
In her reply to the publisher, Ms. Dawisha said she would pursue publication in the United States. “One is left to conclude that the main lesson to prospective authors is not to publish in the U.K. anything that might be seen as libelous,” she said.
The Economist cited a statement from a press representative saying that the scholar’s manuscript had received an early review “as an initial step in an earlier-than-usual stage in the publishing process given its controversial nature,” adding that the work “has never been past the proposal stage.” The statement also said that the press had contacted Ms. Dawisha after reading her reply, to see if a compromise could be reached.