Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Nottingham University goes 'kerplunk'!

I have posted previously about the embarrassment that has emanated from Nottingham University over recent weeks. The Nottingham saga related to a student who had in his possession a printout of terrorist material. The student was studying terrorism. The material was printed (and freely accessible) from a US government website.

Why discuss this on a scientific integrity blog?

It reflects the same system malfunction which leads lawyers and Vice Chancellors to make unprincipled anti-academic comments about the most basic safeguards of academia in science. Do I, as an academic, have the right to see, discuss, and properly assess data (mis)represented in my name by a commercial company? Are doctors prescribing drugs allowed to see and discuss the most fundamental aspects of science underlying that prescribing decision? Does an academic studying terrorism have the right to assess and to see (and even to possess) the information he is studying? What exactly are the roles and obligations of a University and of academic leadership?

Now we have this from the Times Higher Education Supplement (17 July 2008):
Researchers have no 'right' to study terrorist materials, By Melanie Newman

"Academics have no "right" to research terrorist materials and they risk being prosecuted for doing so, the vice-chancellor of the University of Nottingham has told his staff."...

Mr Sabir's personal tutor Bettina Renz, a lecturer in international security, and his MA supervisor, Rod Thornton, a terrorism specialist and former soldier, have both said they told police that Mr Sabir's possession of the document was legitimate given his research interests....

[Despite this, the University in a new letter] "warned Mr Sabir that he risked re-arrest if found with the manual again" and added: "The university authorities have now made clear that possession of this material is not required for the purpose of your course of study nor do they consider it legitimate for you to possess it for research purposes."...

"Since his release without charge, Mr Sabir has been accepted to study for a PhD in radical Islam at Nottingham under Dr Thornton's supervision. His doctorate application proposes an analysis of Islamic terrorists' military and political strategy "based on primary documents, including reports published by think-tanks and research centres and documentation published or released by Islamist groups (strategic and political statements, military manuals, group manifestos and charters)"....

"Mr Sabir insisted to Times Higher Education that he had downloaded his version of the al-Qaeda manual from a US government website and that it was still freely available on the internet"....

"He said he was now unclear what he could and could not legitimately research for his PhD, given the police and the university's warning"....

"Vanessa Pupavac, lecturer in international relations at Nottingham, said: "The university suggests it is illegitimate to study the operational or the tactical as opposed to the political or strategic dimension of al-Qaeda." Scholars were interested in both dimensions, she argued."...

Oliver Blunt QC, of the Anti-Terrorism team at Furnival Chambers in London, said that academics do have a "right" to "access" terrorist materials, whether for research or otherwise, as long as they do not "possess" them. (!) He said: "Once the researcher knowingly downloads or saves the materials that he is accessing, then he is in 'possession' of terrorist materials.
On the internet, what exactly is the difference between "reading", "downloading" and "possessing"?

The Vice Chancellor at Nottingham is quoted as follows
"There is no 'right' to access and research terrorist materials. Those who do so run the risk of being investigated and prosecuted on terrorism charges. Equally, there is no 'prohibition' on accessing terrorist materials for the purpose of research. Those who do so are likely to be able to offer a defence to charges (although they may be held in custody for some time while the matter is investigated). This is the law and applies to all universities." --- Colin Campbell, Vice-Chancellor of Nottingham University (THE, 17 July 2008)
The following from Professor Scott Lucas (University of Birmigham), an open letter to the Vice Chancellor at Nottingham
The problem was never the type-set pages of Mein Kampf; rather, it was in the use of those pages to justify bigotry, racism, war, genocide. The problem was never Marx’s Das Kapital or Mao’s Little Red Book or Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations or the Koran or the Bible. It was, still is, and always will be the manipulation of those texts to justify the taking of lives.

Vice-Chancellor, do you think that --- through your denial of texts to us --- that you make us safer? Do you think that, by denying us our ability to think, consider, criticise that you shelter us from harm? Do you think that you protect us from ourselves, prevent us from becoming extremists? If you do, you are reducing your staff, your students, your administrators, your trustees to no more than children incapable of judgement? You go in one step from being a proud university to a fortress of ignorance.

“There is no 'prohibition' on accessing terrorist materials for the purpose of research. Those who do so are likely to be able to offer a defence to charges.” Thus we are allowed freedom of thought under the caution that we are guilty before being proven innocent. Perhaps you know, Vice Chancellor, of other societies in other times who have also maintained their standard. Perhaps you know where scholars, students, citizens have been advised that they may read their books and then, as those books are burned, explain why they have not committed a crime. Read on

What has become of us, and why do the leadership of other universities remain silent?

There are cogent comments from Edward Reid-Smith on the THES article
The situation seems to be that a small elite group is able to access and possess certain materials without being themselves "corrupted" or to be charged as terrorists .... Their decision is that others accessing and possessing the same materials will be "corrupted" or liable to be charged as "terrorists" whether or not they actually are terrorists. The 99.9% of the population not privileged will not be allowed to possess the material, and legislation will ensure that they are terrorised into not seeking knowledge about what "terrorists" actually think and do.....

The passing of legislation which leaves any community uncertain of exactly what is allowed and what is banned, presents an excellent tool for oligarchic dictatorship at whim. One may question whether non-specific legislation is the result of ineptitude, or because there is some strange pleasure to be gained from putting the populace in fear (i.e. terrorising?) seeking information.

Upper echelons of the university (businessmen) have decided that they know what constitutes "legitimate research material".

Certainly there are real and serious dangers in this world of ours. People who feel they have the right to blow other random individuals apart (or to act as apologists for others who do) are a part of that problem. Dealing with those dangers involves proper discussion as to what they are. That is what Universities are for.

A few other links about this story here, here, here. U-Tube video of Rizwaan Sabir here.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The art of malfunction

Great fun. This new online tool enables you to take a chunk of text and generate a nice bit of artwork. Here for example is the 6 September 2005 letter suspending me from my post at the University of Sheffield.

Below is the joint mission statement of GlaxoSmithKline, the UK drugs "regulator" (the MHRA) and the General Medical Council (UK professional regulator)
  • GSK: "We have a challenging and inspiring mission: to improve the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer."
  • MHRA: We enhance and safeguard the health of the public by ensuring that medicines and medical devices work and are acceptably safe. No product is risk-free. Underpinning all our work lie robust and fact-based judgements to ensure that the benefits to patients and the public justify the risks."
  • GMC: "Regulating doctors - Ensuring good medical practice."

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Crooked academics and the Universities that shield them - more on Brown and Keller

It's all very well blaming pharmaceutical companies for the decrepit state of integrity in medicine.

The chief villians remain our academic institutions and medical leadership. They have colluded with and have acted as apologists for commercial scientific fraud. They have tolerated the telling of lies by senior academics. They have encouraged the prostitution of medicine. They have allowed abuse of the most fundamental safeguards of science. Most importantly, they have set terrible examples for our students.

Last week I posted a copy of my letter to the new Dean of Medicine at Brown University, Professor Ed Wing. The letter was about scientific integrity at Brown, the problem of Professor Martin Keller, and the silence over Brown's treatment of Professor David Kern.

I have not had a response.

A source now informs me that Brown has conducted a formal "investigation" into the activities of Professor Martin Keller. The prior probability that such an investigation would be anything other than a sham is pretty low (P<0.001), but the report is nevertheless "confidential". The trail of oddities involving Keller extends into the distant past. Now the US Senate Finance Committee is probing Keller's financial kickbacks.

It is hard to say this nicely. Based on the publicly available evidence, Professor Martin Keller is guilty of gross and obvious scientific deception and abuse of the scientific process. He has betrayed the trust of our patients. More about Keller here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here

Brown University have continued to provide Keller with a shield of University respectibility. Since he remains in post, we can only guess the level of scientific deception that Brown administration deem to be acceptable.

Should you remain silent Professor Wing?

This is the guidance Brown University provides to it's students:

Principles of the Brown University Community

We, as members of the Brown University community – faculty, undergraduates, graduate and medical students, and staff – are dedicated to supporting and maintaining a scholarly community in which all share together in the common enterprise of learning. As a central aim, Brown University promotes intellectual inquiry through vigorous discourse, both oral and written. The fundamental principles that must necessarily undergird this aim include respect for the integrity of the academic process; individual integrity and self-respect; respect for the freedoms and privileges of others; and respect for University resources. In becoming a part of Brown University, we accept the rights and responsibilities of membership in the University’s academic and social community, and assume the responsibility to uphold the University’s principles.

Respect for the Integrity of the Academic Process

The rights and responsibilities that accompany academic freedom are at the heart of the intellectual purposes of the University. Our conduct as community members should protect and promote the University’s pursuit of its academic mission. We are all, therefore, expected to conduct ourselves with integrity in our learning, teaching, and research, and in the ways in which we support those endeavors.

Individual Integrity

In order to ensure that the University can dedicate itself fully to its academic and educational vision, it is expected that an individual’s personal integrity will be reflected not only in honest and responsible actions but also in a willingness to offer direction to others whose actions may be harmful to themselves or the community. The University expects that members of the Brown community will be truthful and forthright. The University also expects that community members will not engage in behavior that endangers their own sustained effectiveness or that has serious ramifications for their own or others’ safety, welfare, academic well-being, or professional obligations.

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A crooked scientist

There was a crooked man,
And he walked a crooked mile.
To confer with his crooked neighbor,
Who wore a crooked smile.
The crooked man's neighbor,
Lived in a crooked nook.
Both being crooked people,
They read a crooked book.
Inside were crooked tales,
Of other crooked men.
'Twas a crooked man's dream,
Shared with a crooked friend.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Osler Corner - On probability

"The problems of disease are more complicated and difficult than any others with which the trained mind has to grapple... Variability is the law of life. As no two faces are the same, so no two bodies are alike, and no two individuals react alike and behave alike under the abnormal conditions which we know as disease. This is the fundamental difficulty in the education of the physician, and one which he or she may never grasp... probability is the guide of life".
Sir William Osler 1, 1921
Here lies the basis for clinical decision making and evidence based medicine. What is the probability that "Liver extract" will improve fatigue or that Astaxanthin (a carotenoid pigment) will solve male infertility? (more of these later)

For that matter, what is the probability that any given clinical trial sponsored and controlled by GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, or Procter and Gamble will be honest?

This quote appears on a few websites promoting magical medicine. However they routinely omit the last sentence of the quotation, reversing the essence of Osler's wisdom. Osler would not have liked magical medicine - of the "GlaxoSmithKline" variety or the "liver extract" variety.

Click here for collated posts from the Osler Corner

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Blogs versus power - Paul Blackburn of GSK resigns from Ofsted

Paul Blackburn, GSK Vice president has resigned from the Ofsted board in the last few hours over "the activities of his employer" (see background here)

See here

From: enquiries@ofsted.gov.uk
To: fiddaman64
Sent: Wednesday, July 09, 2008 1:22 PM
Subject: Fw: Appointment of GSK Vice President to Ofsted

Dear Mr Fiddaman

Further to my email to you this morning, please be advised as follows:

Paul Blackburn resigned as a non executive member of the Ofsted Board on 5th July. His resignation follows public concerns about the activities of his employer GSK. Paul did not want any negative press interest to detract from the excellent work of Ofsted and therefore resigned. As far as Ofsted is concerned the matter is now concluded.

Should you require any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact us.


Alan O'Neal
Customer Service Advisor
Ofsted - National Business Unit

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"We promise to be honest" at the University of Toronto - is it enough?

Biomedical researchers at the University of Toronto are starting to sign a new honesty oath - See report in the Globe, also published in the Journal Science last week.

Now why should I have a problem with this?

Those behind this initiative (Karen Davis and Ori Rotstein) presumably have good intentions.
Unlike doctors, scientists don't have an ancient moral code like the Hippocratic oath.

But graduate students beginning their careers in medical research at the University of Toronto now have their own solemn ceremony in which they pledge to conduct themselves in an ethical fashion.

Karen Davis, graduate co-ordinator at the Institute of Medical Science, says the new vow stems, in part, from the growing recognition of the potential for academic misconduct, which includes fraud, plagiarism and the shaping of experiments and research papers in ways that help pharmaceutical companies sell more drugs.
Spot on.

Now let's read the oath itself:
"I promise never to allow financial gain, competitiveness or ambition cloud my judgment in the conduct of ethical research and scholarship," reads the oath, which was recited for the first time last September by graduate students at the Institute of Medical Science. "I will pursue knowledge and create knowledge for the greater good, but never to the detriment of colleagues, supervisors, research subjects or the international community of scholars of which I am now a member."
There are a multitude of problems here. Starting with the minor and ending with the dismally depressing:

a) The Hippocratic oath is clearly working extremely well for the medical profession right now.

b) Given the critical ethical scientific scandals which have occurred at the University of Toronto, the phrase "but never to the detriment of colleagues" is perverse. Ethical behaviour is often to the detriment of unscrupulous colleagues. Are we suggesting that Nancy Olivieri should have hidden scientific findings and accepted sham investigations (at UoT) to avoid causing detriment to colleagues?

c) The phrase "I will pursue knowledge and create knowledge for the greater good" is woefully off target. The obligation of a scientist is to the scientific method. It is to describe that method honestly, including conflicts of interest, access to data, authorship, protocol and statistics. It is an obligation to share raw data. It is an obligation to avoid lying about data. Any "greater good" may or may not flow from honest method.

d) The clear lesson from recent scandals is that it's not junior scientists who have the most pressing need for an oath. The pressing need is for Universities and medical leaders to take an oath themselves.

One could imagine an oath for the University of Toronto:
"We promise never to allow financial gain or the natural desire to hide unethical behaviour cloud our judgment in the conduct of ethical research and scholarship. We will allow scientists to pursue knowledge and create knowledge for the greater good. We will continue to do so even if it is to the detriment of other more important colleagues or large corporations. We promise never to bully or to fire scientists who behave with integrity. We promise never to conduct sham investigations or to tell lies for purposes of bullying, hiding the truth or protecting our friends."
e) The biggest problem in scientific ethics is the failure to speak. It is the disconnect between perfectly good codes and the application of those codes to actual troubling incidents. It is the fact that codes are toothless. UoT already has perfectly good codes, procedures and rules of conduct.

That is not to say that Karen Davis and Ori Rotstein are not well intentioned. However, given the problems at Toronto one has to ask where they were when they should have spoken? When they cite examples, why do they not cite incidents rather closer to home?

A Google search for "Karen Davis" and "Gideon Koren", "Karen Davis" and "Nancy Olivieri", "Karen Davis" and "David Healy"
"Ori Rotstein" and "Gideon Koren", "Ori Rotstein" and "Nancy Olivieri", "Ori Rotstein" and "David Healy" yields nothing of any relevance to their involvement in practical ethics.

f) Perhaps all of these codes serve as pretext for virtuous mumbling by groups whose very success is based on ethical failure. Morality they say is sometimes taught by the immoral. It is no surprise that Dr David Goldbloom at the University of Toronto (yes the one who fired Professor David Healy) lectures on ethical physician interaction with the pharmaceutical industry, "harmonized research ethics", advises about conflicts of interest, and wrote the 2003 University of Toronto "Task force report" on Interactions with the pharmaceutical industry. He is paradoxically recipient of the Henry Durost Award for "Excellence in Creative Professional Activity" having destroyed a source of real creative scientific thinking within his own institution.

We have an unrehabilitated institution with a less-than-moral reputation producing smokescreen codes without addressing actual failures.

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Monday, July 07, 2008

Slip Slidin' Away - Scientific integrity and the rot in the UK Government

"A good day ain't got no rain. A bad day's when I lie in bed and think of things that might have been."
-Paul Simon, Slip Slidin' Away

This week sees a new furore over the appointment of a GlaxoSmithKline Senior Vice President (Paul Blackburn) to the board of the education watchdog Ofsted. Any last shred of credibility of the UK Labour government is gone. The implications of this despicable appointment are obvious to anyone who has followed the various ins and outs of misrepresented pharmaceutical science and government collusion with GSK. Much of this bad science involved children. It certainly involved deaths and much human suffering.

Perhaps Gordon Brown dreamed up this truly marvellous public relations plan for his friends while floating in the bath. What are they thinking.....? See discussion here, here, here, here, here.

I am not a leftist or a rightist. I would prefer to see small government, honest government and transparent government. Protecting the vested interests of any favored group or corporation (except to uphold democratically decided law) is not a legitimate role of government. I suppose that makes me a libertarian.

I have no time for those who try to create false ideological opponents by declaring themselves on the side of "the free market" and against "intrusive regulation" while failing to define the meaning of the words they use. This is a debate about corrupted markets and falsified science versus honesty, integrity, and transparency. It is I suppose about the children who died, and whether we care.

Is it "lefty" to suggest that corporations selling products under the banner of science should actually obey the most fundamental rules of science?

Is it "lefty" to propose that drug regulators should actually look at raw data before licensing drugs? Is it "lefty" to suggest that scientists, doctors who prescribe, (and patients who consume) should be allowed to see the honest science underlying prescribing decisions? Is it "lefty" to suggest that regulators are committing criminal acts when they collude with industry to hide the most fundamental facts about drugs under a cloud of corporate secrecy? Is it the role of government in a free market to shield corporate criminals from prosecution and scrutiny?

Unless the debate can rise above the false left/right dichotomy we are doomed. The victims of the current widespread fraud in this industry are not only patients. The victims are the credibility of UK science, medicine, and the honest and most innovative parts of the pharmaceutical industry itself.

The days of the UK Labour Government are numbered. They are likely to go down in history as a cynically corrupt government that has betrayed every aspect of their own supposed mission. I'll leave a detailed discussion of the entanglement between the labour government and pharmaceutical scientific fraud for another day.

So to Gordon Brown -- you are a dismal thoughtless pathetic failure. Sadly, the corruption of politics is such that your successor may not be any better.

Just don't let the door hit you on the way out.

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Dean Edward J Wing and integrity at Brown Medical School

One thing will be obvious to anyone who has spent time looking at scientific misconduct and academic bullying. Publicly known instances tend to aggregate within particular institutions.

It may be a denominator effect. "Bad apples" might arise in productive institutions with a large number of apples. Ineffective (or corrupt) leadership might also permit fraud and bullying. Unprincipled leadership is also associated with sham investigation and attempted cover-up, which in turn precipitates public discussion.

True "bad apple" aberrations never leave an institutional stain. The fraud of Jan Hendrik Schön did not alter the reputation of Bell Laboratories. Other so called "bad apple" cases are nothing of the sort. The fraud of John Darsee at Harvard, or Vijay Soman at Yale involved collusion of leadership, ignoring of principles, bullying and cover-up.

Several institutions spring to mind, not only for the frequency of serious problems but also dismal cover-up, ignoring of principles, and bullying of those who have discussed integrity.
  • The University of Toronto (cases of Nancy Olivieri, David Healy, Godeon Koren, Brenda Gallie and others)
  • Berkeley (Ignacio Chapela, Tyrone Hayes)
  • Brown University Medical School (David Kern, Martin Keller)
  • Harvard (too many cases to mention)
  • Kingston University in the UK
Another characteristic of leadership failure is the refusal of institutions to apologize when they must know that they have done wrong. There is failure to discuss the principles honestly and publicly. There is failure to demonstrate proper academic behavior to students. When apology does take place it is often end-stage "damage limitation" of the sort illustrated here by John Cleese.

Why discuss Brown University now? Brown has a new Dean of Medicine as of 5 days ago. Professor of Edward J. Wing, M.D. took up his position on July 1 2008. There was considerable controversy about the manner of his appointment. In particular there were concerns that the process was designed to limit the field to particular insiders (see here, and here). Perhaps choosing an insider was not the best idea for an institution with a growing integrity stain.

Wing was certainly present at Brown during the terminal phase of the bullying of David Kern. It is not known that he did anything to help Kern. He must also have had interactions with Professor Martin Keller.

It is however possible that Wing will do the right thing. I wrote to Wing to find out. My communication was also sent to Associate Provost Pamela O'Neil, Provost David Kertzer and President Ruth Simmons. Given the absence of any acknowledgement, I thought I would make my communication public.
Professor Ed Wing
Chairman of Medicine
Brown Medical School

29 June 2008

Dear Professor Wing

I note that you will take up your Deanship at Brown two days from now. I congratulate you on your appointment.

I am sure you are aware of increasing concern about the integrity and honesty of leadership in medicine. Further, I am sure that you realize that the outsider's view of Brown is tainted by two unfortunate scandals. One a decade ago, has never been resolved in any principled manner. The other is ongoing.

I am referring to the cases of Dr David Kern, Professor of Occupational Medicine, and the many problems involving Professor Martin Keller.

David Kern was bullied and effectively fired at around the time you joined the faculty at Brown. Brown has never to my knowledge undertaken any soul searching with regard to this dismal affair.

I am sure that you are aware of the obvious obscenity of tainted research and research misrepresentation involving Professor Martin Keller. This research has done a grave disservice to the image of our profession. Brown has so far taken no apparent action.

I am therefore writing to ask whether you have made (or intend to make) any comment about these two incidents.

Have you anything to say of the future integrity of research at Brown, Professor Wing?

Kind Regards

Dr Aubrey Blumsohn
Sheffield, England
There is a Chinese saying, "a fish begins to smell from the head down...". You may not be a culpable head as yet Professor Wing. You are however in a position to make some statement about the institutional infection that has characterized Brown.

As Peter Drucker said, "Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things". Some statement about manipulated drug studies, an honorary degree for David Kern and an honest statement of regret might be a good idea.

Perhaps consider doing the right thing Professor Wing.

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Saturday, July 05, 2008

A page from The life and times of Sally Hunt

Sally Hunt is currently General Secretary of the University and College Union (UCU), and the last General Secretary of the Association of University Teachers (UK) prior to its merger with NATFHE to form the UCU. For background see letter here.

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A letter to Sally Hunt (Moran, Blumsohn)

Sally Hunt is currently General Secretary of the University and College Union (UCU), and the last General Secretary of the Association of University Teachers (UK) prior to its merger with NATFHE to form the UCU. The below letter from Rhetta Moran and myself is self explanatory. See also this and this for some background.

For pdf version of letter and attachments see here. For many other UK cases involving AUT/UCU/NAFTHE inaction see the extensive Bullied Academics blog

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Rhetta Moran, David Healy - and the language of academic bullying

My friend Rhetta Moran was fired from Salford University (a "greater" Manchester University) in 2005 under very unusual circumstances.

There are fascinating linguistic aspects of sham university procedures and integrity scandals. Rhetta's research was said to be "no longer compatible with the school".

A key problem facing academia in the UK is the lack of any plausible institution that speaks up for integrity and the values of a university. As Rhetta states, "One would have thought that the idea of "compatible" or "incompatible" research would be something that should interest an academic union".

This brief summary of Rhetta's story serves as a prelude to my next post about a joint letter we wrote to Sally Hunt about the dismal integrity failures of the Association of University Teachers (AUT). Hunt is currently General Secretary of the University and College Union (UCU), and the last General Secretary of the AUT the merger with NATFHE to form the UCU.

The idea of "incompatible" research formed a key part of the scandalous firing of Professor David Healy at the University of Toronto. Following a lecture during which Healy expressed concerns about the integrity of pharmaceutical research, Dr. David Goldbloom fired him, stating that : "We believe that it is not a good fit between you and the role as leader of an academic program in mood and anxiety disorders at the Centre and in relation to the University. This view was solidified by your recent appearance at the Centre in the context of an academic lecture. While you are held in high regard as a scholar of the history of modem psychiatry, we do not feel your approach is compatible with the goals for development of the academic and clinical resource that we have."

In contrast to supine academic unions in the UK, some other academic unions (most notably the Canadian Association of University Teachers) have acted vigorously to defend many academics confronted by important assaults on integrity.

I will let Rhetta introduce herself:

Dr Rhetta Moran, 1 July 2008

I was dismissed by the University of Salford under unusual circumstances in 2005 following a previously successful academic career. During the previous year, I had been the lead investigator in a publicly funded project (Salford RAPAR SRB5) which was designed to collate accurate information about housing, health, employment, economic, personal safety and education problems involving people seeking asylum. The project was funded through the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. Clearly this was a contentious project.

No factually plausible reasons for my dismissal as an academic under such circumstances have ever been provided. Employers appear to exercise the right to dismiss staff on the most thinly constructed grounds, or even no grounds at all, such as unspecified research "incompatibility". The university returned all grant funds including a newly obtained one (£192,316) from the European Social Fund.

I have learned that legal structures designed to deal with employment disputes have almost no relevance to academic integrity. Neither, unfortunately, did the Association of University Teachers (AUT).

We now know that the PCT Chief Executive, Mike Burrows, wrote to my "boss" Professor Michael Harloe and told him I was being removed from leadership of the research in April 2004. This was very shortly after a newspaper article appeared in the Observer. In this article (March 28, 2004) the Observer described how young asylum-seeking women were having to go underground in Salford. Drawing on work and contacts provided by myself, it cited me as follows:
People have been dumped in Salford, but without resources,' says Dr Rhetta Moran, a senior research fellow at the Revans Institute with overall responsibility for the Salford RAPAR project. 'There was no additional support for local practitioners. There is not one immigration solicitor in the whole city. And it leads to bitterness because this is a place where locals have been making their own demands on the council for years.
Other staff employed on the project were threatened with immediate suspension for gross misconduct if they had anything to do with me. It appears that there was an attempt to induce staff to accuse me of bullying, but they declined to do so. The following month I received a letter of dismissal signed by John Dobson, who advised that my research was no longer "compatible" with the school. Dobson as it happens is also the current President of Salford University UCU.

This lack of "compatibility" was never explained.

One would have thought that the idea of "compatible" or "incompatible" research would be something that should interest an academic union. The AUT attempted to induce to me to go along with a sham process as well as a gag agreement while ignoring every principle involved. Their silence has been deafening.

The university then stated that the reason for my dismissal was because I was "redundant" - a truly marvellous tautology.

I was finally sacked in January 2005, the day before the Deputy Prime Minister announced the opening of the Central Salford Urban Regeneration Company, in which my former boss Vice Chancellor, Michael Harloe has major involvement.

It is not clear whether any "incompatibility" might be down to fear of research or academic discussion that a City Council or conflicted academic leadership would find uncomfortable. It would be good to know.
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