Sir Alec was thin and grey and his voice matched his looks. It sounded a wisp of smoke wafting from some burning of leaves hidden by a clump of lavender. The effort that appeared to go into his voice seemed not to correspond with any commensurable weariness or boredom; indeed, he was eager to pump me, and, genuinely looking for a job as I was, I felt highly impatient both with the affectation built in to his manner and with the fact that I had come primed for a serious interview and was being frivolously quizzed. Moreover, I had come in a taxi. I always took a taxi to an interview.

I said I understood there was an editorial job available. ‘Yes,’ he breathed, ‘there is in fact an editorial job available, I believe.’ He pressed a button on his desk and spoke through an intercom. Tan, would you come in please? I have a lady editor who might in fact very well suit us. Yes, now, please.’

He rose and so did I. He walked me to the door just as it opened and Ian Tooley came in. Sir Alec offered me a limp hand and when I took it he seemed to throw my hand away into thin air. Tan, this is Mrs Hawkins.’ Then he said to me, or rather sighed out the words: ‘I hope you don’t believe that Shakespeare wrote the plays. The evidence in fact does not stand independent scrutiny. He must be laughing up his sleeve in the next world, if in fact there is one, when he looks down and sees what is in fact going on at Stratford-on-Avon.’

I find this on the net: So what is Independent Scrutiny? Definition: A regular and planned process external to the audit body and the audited organisation with particular focus on the audit process to ensure that the process is capable of producing objective results and meeting its obligations under Regulation (EC) No 882/2004.

but again its meaning is unclear to me?

Dose it mean: we must not trust something that is said or we see?

Source: A Far Cry From Kensington by Muriel Spark

  • I edited my qustion but why is it closed again? Aug 16, 2020 at 20:54
  • 1
    You have been here long enough to know you should always tell us what you understand and what you don't. Also include as much research and context as you can. You are doing okay on the context side, but some of your questions don't show any research effort. Also when your question gets closed, edit and wait for it to be reopened. I am reopening it for you this time, but usually it takes five votes from community members. You need to be patient.
    – Eddie Kal
    Aug 16, 2020 at 21:07
  • independent scrutiny is examination by an independent person or authority.
    – Lambie
    Aug 16, 2020 at 22:03

2 Answers 2


to stand scrutiny= to be critically examined

the evidence [for his having written the plays] falls apart if examined by an independent expert or authority on Shakespeare.

That's the meaning of it.

  • Lots of thanks. So does it mean: If the evidence (plays) be examined by an independent person you know that they are not written by Shakespear? Aug 17, 2020 at 8:03

The definition of "independent scrutiny" that you quote is talking about a very specific, technical definition of the term in one particular context. That is consistent with the ordinary meaning, but far more specific.

In general, "scrutiny" means examination or study. Like you might say, "The scientist scrutinized the results of the experiment" or "the detective scrutinized the scene of the crime".

"Independent" means someone or something that is not involved. In this sort of context, someone who is not part of either side of the debate. Like we might say, "Bob and Sally had an argument and couldn't agree on a fair solution, so they asked George, who had nothing to do with the argument, to hear both sides and give an independent opinion."

So "independent scrutiny" is when someone who is not involved in the debate examines the evidence for himself. In this case, you would have to find someone who has not already formed an opinion on whether Shakespeare wrote the plays, and who has no particular stake in the conclusion.


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