Objecting to Science Advice Principles on Principle

Deputy News Editor

Not everyone is happy with the U.K. government's new Principles for the Treatment of Independent Scientific Advice. Evan Harris, a Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament who is one of the nation's staunchest science advocates, has quickly blasted the much debated guidelines:

This document imposes a brand new and nebulous requirement on scientific advisers to "maintain the trust" of politicians, and they can sanctioned on this alone regardless of whether they have abided by their pre-existing detailed Code of Practice. This will be unacceptable to those in the science community who recognise the need to protect scientific advisers from the fickle whims of political prejudice.

The imposition of these principles by the Government is worse than the previous situation, where the Code of Practice governed the activities of advisers. Under these new principles another incident like the sacking of Professor David Nutt by the Home Secretary, which was criticised at the time by the Science Minister, will be entirely within the Government's new rules.

The Science community must resist these principles and should refuse to serve under them.

Posted in Europe