Academic hits back at Spectator writer who said he visited sex worker after watching her lecture

Lloyd Evans and Professor Lea Ypi (ES C​omposite)
Lloyd Evans and Professor Lea Ypi (ES C​omposite)

An award-winning academic has hit back after a writer told how he lusted after her so much it prompted him to visit a sex worker.

Professor Lea Ypi, a professor of political theory at the London School of Economics, was responding to a piece published in The Spectator by Lloyd Evans.

Writing in the magazine, Mr Evans described a trip to Darwin College — which he incorrectly called Downing College — at the University of Cambridge, to attend a lecture from Professor Ypi.

Mr Evans said he was distracted throughout the talk on Kant and revolutions by the “beautiful historian’s” appearance. He wrote: “Her blonde hair spilling over her shoulders absorbed far more of my attention than her political reflections.”

Unable to meet the academic afterwards, Mr Evans said he then went to a massage parlour in the “rougher end of Cambridge”. There, he paid for “a social rendezvous” in a “softly lit room” in a “private business location” with a “petite, black-haired and buxom” woman from Shanghai.

Albanian-born Professor Ypi, whose book Free: Coming of Age at the End of History recounts her time growing up as communism collapsed in Albania, responded after being made aware of the article in The Spectator.

She wrote on Twitter/X: “Advice for scholars: next time you lecture on Kant and revolutions at ‘Downing’ (@DarwinCollege) Cambridge, make sure your hair is neatly tied and that you’re not blonde. Or else your research impact will be on the @spectator libido section.”

A spokesman for the college which hosted her talk said they were “absolutely appalled” by the article.

In a response to the professor posting online, the college said: “Your fascinating, beautifully crafted lecture was a hugely appreciated highlight of the College’s cultural year and we hope your memory of the event won’t be tainted by an audience member using it to write something so crude and offensive.”

Her book was shortlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize for Nonfiction, the Costa Prize and won the Ondaatje Prize.

Mr Evans told the Daily Telegraph his article was an attempt to “encompass both poles of life, between the intellectual high-flying political philosophy and a sexual encounter”.

He described the online condemnation of his writing as “a bit unfortunate”, adding: “I have had people calling me a sex pervert on Twitter which I think is strange.

“So this person, a complete stranger, has read about my romantic life in a magazine and has then made a public effort to notify me that he considered me as sex pervert. Well, my message to him is get out of the basement and get a bit of action, even if you have to pay for it.”