Freedom for whom?

February 11, 2005

Your article "What's a nice Trot doing in a place like this?"

(January 28) accuses me of peddling conspiracy theories about Frank Furedi and other former members of the Revolutionary Communist Party. But I don't have a theory. I've reported a number of phenomena and then asked what is happening and why. This, if I'm not mistaken, is what journalists are supposed to do.

Some of these phenomena should be of interest to your readers.

Former RCP members control much of the formal infrastructure of public communication used by the science and medical establishment. They hold key positions in Sense About Science, the Science Media Centre, the Genetic Interest Group, the Progress Educational Trust, Genepool and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service. They have used these positions to promote the interests of pharmaceutical and biotech companies and to dismiss the concerns of the public and non-governmental organisations.

Given that the RCP was a tiny splinter of a Trotskyist subgroup, with just a handful of disciples, given that most of the people who have taken these posts do not have a background in science, and given that the movement has a long history of entryism, its former members' colonisation of these bodies is unlikely to have happened by chance.

The article was billed as a piece about "academic freedom". The implication appears to be that academics should be free from public criticism or investigation. Is this really the position of The Times Higher? If so, is there not a conflict between academic freedom and the freedom of the press?

George Monbiot
Oxford

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