Laurie Taylor column

March 11, 2005

" Hefce burdened by Freedom of Information requests and censoring " - The Times Higher, March 4 .

To: The Higher Education Funding Council for England

Dear Sir,

I understand that under the new Freedom of Information Act, I can ask you to provide me with the reasons for the rejection of my 1986 application for a grant of £2 million to study the handbag industry in Florence. I look forward to receiving full documentation asap.

Yours in anticipation, Doctor Piercemuller

From: The Higher Education Funding Council for England

Dear Doctor Piercemuller,

We enclose a copy of the relevant minutes relating to your grant application. Please note that the blacked-out sections are those which are deemed to be exempt from the Act's conditions of disclosure (see separate sheets for detailed explanations).

Yours sincerely, G. Rehnquist (Disclosure Officer)

Minute 23a/17/05/86. Research Application 67821. The Handbag Industry in Florence: Comparative Perspectives.Applicant: Dr. Piercemuller

The committee recognised that studies of manufacturing in the EU were timely and relevant. There was, however, a strong feeling that Dr Piercemuller's wish to spend three years and £2 million in Florence had more to do with his xxxxx x xxxx xxxx xxxx lying on his back in the xxx drinking xxxxxx than with any empirical wish to learn more about the leather industry.

The committee also took the view that the candidate's research record lacked any sign whatsoever of either xxxxxxxxx or xxxxxxxx. His previous work on the decline of the St Tropez fishing industry was described by one referee as a complete and xxxxx xxxx xx xxxxxxxx.

After a show of hands it was agreed that the application should therefore be rejected and that a letter be composed which made it plain to Dr Piercemuller that his chances of obtaining funding in the near future were about as good as a snowball's xxxxxx xx xxxx.

Voting details:

For the application x.

Against the application xxx.

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