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Sunday 6 September 2015

Sunday Rest: Maxwellisation. Word Not To Use Today.

If you're British then the name Maxwell will probably bring to mind a) coffee, and b) the very large newspaper owner who fell off his yacht shortly before people found out he'd stolen - and then lost - a large amount from his workers' pension fund.

Recently I've started hearing people using the term Maxwellisation, and it's puzzled me. It's being used in connection with an enquiry into the beginnings of the Iraq War: but what can that have to do with Robert Maxwell?

Are the findings of the enquiry going to be so appalling that a whole crowd of people are expected to fall off their yachts?

Are those implicated expected to assume the ownership of newspapers in order to suppress the findings? 

Will they have to go on comfort-eating sprees that'll cause their weight to balloon to twenty two stone?

What I expected was that the Maxwell involved would turn out to be some other Maxwell (like James Clerk Maxwell the physicist) but no, the Maxwell of Maxwellisation is indeed our old acquaintance Robert. Robert Maxwell was named in a 1969 inquiry which branded him 'unfit to hold the stewardship of a public company'. 

Maxwell sued, and as a result official policy was altered so that anyone criticised in a report is now given the chance to respond to the criticisms before publication. This is termed Maxwellisation.

It means that enquiries take much longer, and cost a great deal more, than they would if they didn't bother with a Maxwellisation process, but many people think that it makes the system fairer.

I mean, we wouldn't want nonsense being published like the assertion that Robert Maxwell was unfit to hold the stewardship of a public company.

Would we?

Sunday Rest: Maxwellisation. This word is tainted by association. Even though it describes a process designed to be fair (as well as to avoid the trouble and expense of a law suit) it just makes the whole enterprise of an enquiry sound jolly dodgy. 

Maxwell comes from a short form of the Scandinavian name Magnus plus the Old English wella, which means stream.

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