The reviewer that I mentioned in the last post has let me know that the editor is blaming the manuscript submission system:
I wrote to the editor, asking for an explanation. I copied them my original review downloaded from the journal’s portal, and the review they sent authors, with highlighting to show the differences.
The editor replied…that it must have been a technical error, that the manuscript central system does that sometimes. I don’t buy it. This was done by a person not a program. It’s grammatically perfect. Deliberate. All aimed at making the review negative. (Also I notice that the editor used a phrase in his reply to me that has also been added to the text of the review.)
It looks to me like the editor has gamed the system for his own reasons. I advised the author to contact the president of the professional body whose journal this is the official organ of, but only if it doesn’t affect her career prospects. Whistleblowers don’t get fair treatment in my experience.