Animal campaigner was 'not my student'

May 14, 2004

Scientist Colin Blakemore, one of the most outspoken defenders of animal research, has accused a leading anti-vivisectionist of misleadingly claiming to be his student to add authenticity to a campaign against him, writes Anna Fazackerley.

The row has broken out between Professor Blakemore, chief executive of the Medical Research Council, and Gill Langley, scientific adviser to the Dr Hadwen Trust, which campaigns against animal research. Three weeks ago, the pair shared the stage in a very civilised Times Higher debate.

In a letter to The Times Higher this week, Professor Blakemore insists that Dr Langley was not his student at Cambridge University.

Professor Blakemore, who has been the subject of numerous death threats from animal-rights extremists, said in an interview this week: "I have no doubt that Gill Langley's trumped-up evidence fuelled the campaign against me, and contributed to the 15 years of hell that I and my family suffered."

He said: "I think it is entirely inappropriate for her to call herself a student of mine: this was obviously intended to give credibility to her criticism of me, as though she knew what was really going on in my lab."

His letter points out that she was a student in another faculty. He added this week that even if she had attended his undergraduate lectures, this would not have given her an insight into his research on animals.

Dr Langley told The Times Higher : "I was one of his undergraduate students.

He was one of my lecturers. All his lectures to us as part of the physiology course were about his vision experiments on cats."

She said: "I wrote a scientific and ethical critique of his work at that time, which I stand by today. I am more than happy to send a copy of this to anyone who would like to read it."

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