Shortly afterwards, due solely to the more clued up people who responded in the comments and who took the couple of minutes needed to check the claim wrt the wicked paedophile-labelling blogger, Hickman wrote an update to his post: Johnny Ball denies 'climate zealots are ruining my career' claims.
Here's how it went.
So Hickman admits that he just ran with it as he had "no reason to doubt" Ball, and that checking further- or "detective work"- can be left to his readers. Now really, how long would it take to read the blog Ball talked about, search it to find the post in question, and check that he hadn't been making it up as he went along.
In Hickman's 2nd Guardian article he wrote:
Personally, I don't really want to get drawn into the nitty-gritty of how Google works, the intentions of those who build porn sites, or whether certain blogs have been deleted or not. I asked Ball to respond on these points and he did so.Why not? Hickman gave credence and lots of publicity to Ball's claims regarding these very issues. He is a respected Guardian journalist and author on environmental issues, and not some seedy hack bent on muck raking. His contribution to the propagation of these claims is substantial.
I do appreciate that he made a link available in his update article, and explained the nature of this personal blog- it's hardly capable of changing a celebrity's career. However I didn't notice an apology anywhere there for the initial oversight; just saying he took other's words in good faith and checking up is too taxing, sounds all wrong to me. The whole point of his 1st article was to condemn the claimed mistreatment of Ball. And Ball still was given a platform to repeat his lies about my blog, repeating his claim that the line "Johnny Ball should not be allowed near children" comes up on Google links and that the post was removed- all untrue.