Israel-Gaza war: Ministers accused of silencing academics

Universities in the United Kingdom face a growing free speech row after the government was accused of silencing academics for “unacceptable” social media posts relating to the Israel-Hamas conflict, writes Poppy Wood for iNews.

Michelle Donelan, the secretary of state for science, expressed her “disgust” and “outrage” at two academics last week who shared posts on X, formerly Twitter, in which they appeared to support Hamas or criticise Israel’s bombardment of Gaza. The cabinet secretary wrote to UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the national research funding body, urging it to take immediate action over two members of its advisory group on equality, diversity and inclusion. Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, the head of UKRI, replied on Tuesday 31 October confirming she had suspended the academics and the rest of its advisory board on equality, diversity and inclusion, which was formed less than a week ago.

Jo Grady, general secretary of the University and College Union, accused the UKRI of bowing to “ministerial diktat”, in a move that threatens to stoke tensions at British universities. iNews has also seen an open letter signed by more than 2,500 academics condemning the move as an attack on academic freedom.
Full report on the iNews site