An emeritus professor has claimed that the University of Glasgow withdrew his online access to email and journals because of his views on fracking.
David Smythe, emeritus professor of geophysics at Glasgow, had his access to university email and online journal subscriptions terminated at the end of January, just days after he had posted an online article that raised concerns about fracking safety and regulation in the UK.
The university maintains that Professor Smythe’s online access was “part of a routine review of email accounts”. He left the university in 1998.
But Professor Smythe believes that the loss of online access, first reported by Scottish investigative website The Ferret, is linked to his views on fracking and his continuing use of his affiliation to Glasgow.
In 2014, the secretary to the institution’s court told him that a number of academics were concerned that views he had expressed to the media as an emeritus professor, “particularly on the subject of shale gas, are not consistent with work which is currently being undertaken at the university”.
The university asked him to make clear in future that his views were his own and were “not necessarily representative of the views held by the university’s current researchers”.
The latest article gives Professor Smythe’s affiliation as Glasgow’s College of Science and Engineering, but states that he is “now at” his home address in France.
Professor Smythe says that the title of emeritus professor and the associated email and journal access rights had been granted to him in perpetuity when he left the university, and he is taking legal advice.
“The proper forum for debate is in the academic literature and the staff at Glasgow elsewhere should argue with me in print, for and against,” said Professor Smythe. “To have me ‘terminated’ in this way is a very base tactic to use.”
A university spokesman said that Professor Smythe’s claims were without foundation.
“Professor Smythe’s email access was terminated earlier this year, as part of a routine review of email accounts in the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences,” the spokesman said.
“Professor Smythe left the university in 1998 and, while he retains the title of emeritus professor, he has no continuing practical association with the work of the university.”