The former head of a powerful UN panel on climate change who is facing sexual harassment charges has claimed that his accuser “actively flirted” with him and “aggressively encouraged a deeper relationship”.
Nobel Peace Prize-winning scientist Rajendra Pachauri, who headed the UN’s respected Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is facing charges of sexual harassment, stalking and criminal intimidation brought by a young colleague at the Delhi-based The Energy Research and Resources Institute (TERI).
The case comes to a Delhi court in April.
Speaking to the UK’s Observer newspaper, Pachauri, 75, said that his emails had been hacked and that the dossier of email messages given to the police by his unnamed accuser was part of a wider “plot by climate change deniers”.
Pachauri told the Observer that his accuser – a science graduate working at TERI – had access to five of his email accounts as well as to electronic files which included personal correspondence.
“What is disturbing [is] that right from the first day over a period of about 16 months she was creating and assembling an archive of messages, which to anyone would seem very unusual. As far as I know, the emails, text messages etc that she collected were personal, semi-personal and only in a few cases official,” Pachauri told the Observer via an email exchange.
He added: “I was, during that period, extremely busy and carrying out email communications on six different email accounts. These included my Yale, IPCC, Teri official, Hotmail as well as Gmail accounts. I generally corresponded with her on my Gmail account, but since I had a huge volume of messages to deal with I did not frequently read my messages, except when I was alerted about a message waiting for me. When I did access this account, I would only read unread messages. Honestly, how many of us check our sent items regularly?”
Pachauri’s accuser presented police a dossier containing thousands of electronic messages she claims to have received over a 16 month period.
Some of the messages have been seen by the Observer and paint a picture of a man who is besotted.
In one email he writes: “I am yours for life. I have never felt so overwhelmingly in love as I have been with you, and even though you gave me so much pain, I will always be your well-wisher and carry beautiful memories of the joyous moments between us, limited as they might have been”.
In another he wrote: “I will go on a fast after a cricket match … I will break the fast only when you believe I love you with sincerity and unfathomable depth”.
In one text message, Pachauri’s accuser tells him: “Please you are not to grab me and or kiss me”.
Pachauri told the Observer that his accuser had altered the names and meaning of the poems he has written over the years to suggest that he was bombarding her with messages of love.
“The poems I have written and saved electronically all have some names or the other, particularly in the case of romantic poems, and these can be easily altered by replacing the name that is mentioned with anybody else’s name”, he said.
The woman has told police that she rejected Pachauri’s “carnal and perverted advances” and alleges that Pachauri forcibly grabbed her, hugged her, kissed her and touched in an “inappropriate manner”.
Through her lawyers, the woman told the Observer that there is no truth in Pachauri’s claim that computers were hacked, and that the Delhi police are also convinced there is no truth in it.
The woman’s lawyer also denied that she flirted with Pachauri.
But Pachauri remains defiant, telling the Observer: “From my perspective this was nothing but a very cordial and mutual relationship. There was a light and friendly tone to our correspondence, but at no stage did I ever hint at having a physical relationship nor did I in any way engage in sexual harassment.”
Pachauri also told the Observer that the attacks on him in India in the aftermath of the sexual assault charges have been led by the Economic Times whose one-time editor Swaminathan Aiyar has links with the Cato Institute in Washington which in turn has funded many climate-sceptics.
The Cato Institute has denied any involvement.