Author Archive

This blog has moved

June 24, 2010

to http://drevanharris.wordpress.com

Disdain for parliamentary reform

February 12, 2010

By refusing a Commons debate on the Wright committee’s proposals, the government shows it is not interested in reform

Originally posted on the Guardian’s Comment is free

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Three more resignations from the ACMD

November 10, 2009

I’ve just heard that three more ACMD members have resigned, after the Council met with Alan Johnson.

The latest resignations represent a deepening in the crisis of confidence of scientists in the Government – in particular, in the Home Secretary. That they come after Alan Johnson met the ACMD demonstrates that he just doesn’t get it when it comes to the importance of respecting the academic freedom and integrity of independent, unpaid, science advisers.

Ministers are entitled to their own opinions, but not to their own facts. The cost of the failure of the Home Secretary to understand the lessons of the BSE Inquiry will be poor policy – unless the Prime Minister acts decisively to bring the Home Office and rest of Government into line with established good practice.

By clumsily and unfairly sacking David Nutt, Alan Johnson has been rewarded with five resignations in protest. That takes a certain kind of ineptitude.

Nutt Sacking: Johnson responds – and is still wrong

November 10, 2009

The Home Secretary has now responded to my letter. It is set out below, interwoven with my original letter, and accompanied by comments from me, after consultation with Professor Nutt and Richard Garside (of CCJS at King’s College)

This is still all in the aftermath to Professor Nutt’s sacking by the Home Secretary, and the Home Secretary’s subsequent Q&A sessions in the House of Commons.

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Professor David Nutt

November 9, 2009

Following the sacking of Professor David Nutt by the Home Secretary, Chris Huhne (Lib Dem Shadow Home Secretary) and I, who both opposed the sacking, tabled an urgent question in the House to the Home Secretary. Mysteriously (since he agrees with the Home Secretary) the urgent question was awarded to Chris Grayling the Tory Shadow minister. Nevertheless the resultant statement and Q & A is instructive as to the level of scientific and rational debate in Parliament.

I was amazed to hear what the Home Secretary said, under privilege, in parliament about a distinguished scientist and sent Alan Johnson the letter below demanding a retraction and apology.

I will post the reply I get when it comes in.

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Simon Singh and the BCA

May 14, 2009

Very interested in the on-going libel case of the BCA suing Simon Singh for libel. Jack of Kent has been covering the case excellently.

I am an MP who campaigns for science, evidence-based policy and free speech,  so this case is pulling all my levers. I met Simon earlier this week. It is vital that this case is not lost because it will chill scientists, journalists, writers and even comedians from criticising the work of others – which is a vital component of the scientific method.

It will embolden the non-evidence-based (so called “alterntive”) health care industry to threaten any critic of their apporoach, work or claims. It will also add credibility to the claims of these organisations. As Jack says, some of Simon’s friends and supporters will be organising a campaign around these issues. Please get involved.