Fracking researcher wins academic freedom case against Glasgow University

David Smythe

A retired academic has won a long-running legal challenge against Glasgow University which withdrew his email address and access to online journals.

David Smythe, Emeritus Professor of Geophysics at Glasgow, had accused the university of trying to stifle his opposition to fracking.

He said the effect of withdrawing his journals access had been to deny his academic freedom of expression and to prevent him from carrying out research on shale gas. DrillOrDrop report

The university has confirmed that he will have indefinite use of the email and journal access and agreed to pay all his costs. A senior university officer has formally regretted the dispute.

The case dates back to 2014 when, according to email correspondence, university staff attempted to distance themselves from Professor Smythe and cut his journal access. It coincided with his first objections to onshore oil and gas planning applications. He has since worked with numerous community groups opposing onshore exploration.

The final decision by the university to remove his access was made in January 2016, soon after the online publication of a draft online article in which Professor Smythe criticised UK shale gas companies.

The case went to court on 16 June 2017. The university was ordered to restore Professor Smyth’s access within 24 hours. Both sides were urged to agree an out-of-court settlement. All costs for the hearing were awarded against the university.

The two sides met in October and agreed to resolve the dispute. Professor Smythe said the university has until 14 May to settle his costs. Then the court action would be cancelled.

He has released a letter from the Secretary of the University, Dr David Duncan. In it, Dr Duncan says:

“I am writing to confirm that as an Emeritus Professor of Geophysics, College of Science & Engineering, University of Glasgow, you are entitled to continue to use that title without hindrance.”

The letter continues:

“I also confirm that you may continue to use your University email address and that your library access privileges will remain in place on a permanent basis.”

Dr Duncan says:

“For my part, I regret the recent dispute between the University and yourself, which involved the termination of your library and email access (as specified above) between January 2016 and June 2017.

“I have no reason to doubt your integrity as a scientific researcher, and hope that you will continue to be as productive in your research as you have been since your retirement in 1998.”

Professor Smythe said:

“Sense has prevailed.

“Following the day in court in June last year Glasgow University restored my access to essential online academic sources, and agreed to pay all costs to date. My principal opponents at the university have either left or retired.”



32 replies »

  1. Some of us do our own research PhilipP, and don’t get taken in. Who knows, we might even be able to determine the difference between the Barclay Brothers and Barclays Bank, if we were not in a rush to denounce the prior history of corporate governance to spread amongst others who don’t do their research??
    I gave my views on what I have read from Prof Smythe. Did you miss that point PhilipP, or were you, again, in a rush to create another fictional platform?
    Bit like the comments from Jonathan regarding Broadford Bridge. If his, or the Profs analyses of that are so accurate, perhaps they would be so kind as to pass them on to UKOG, who are still analysing actual data having ignored the previous speculation!

  2. Not for sure, Jono. Perhaps the millions are just part of what is required to determine what is needed to extract oil from the Weald? Now, that would be novel!
    How many years and millions to do the same in the N.Sea?

    Patience is a virtue. If some investors don’t have it then UK on shore oil and gas should be avoided by them. Good job the exploration companies don’t appear to have the same problem. Low hanging fruit has largely gone, the rest takes a little reaching for.

  3. Poor Sherwulfe!!

    So, where does the money for Norway’s Wealth Fund come from??

    Fish farming?

    Seems pretty sensible to me if you are banking a whole lot of money from oil and gas there is a reasonable approach not to invest it back into the same commodities, simply because if oil and gas prices reduced you would get a double whammy!

    That would be a Giggle.

    • Sadly, again we have to explain the article to you MC as you cannot be bothered to read it. The Norwegians have been advised to diversify their fund due to the increasing risks with oil and gas prices.

      Am sure they won’t worry too much about money, running most of their country on renewables and holding over a trillion dollars in reserve, but with the move away from fossil fuels, insurance risks and other better ways to invest- just sound advice? ‘Eggs in one basket’ springs to mind.

      The banks are divesting, pension funds are divesting, institutions are divesting; all positive. Time to take note, or you could just sit on the fence until it rots beneath you?

  4. No Sherwulfe, it is you who does not understand. Have you discussed this with any Norwegians, I have.

    Oil price at $75/barrel, if it dropped back to $40/barrel the income to the Wealth Fund from oil would drop pro rata. If a big chunk of the Wealth Fund was invested in oil then the value of that would drop pro rata ie. a double whammy. Sorry you have difficulty with such basic economics, but hardly new. Bless.

    • Oh, oh hold me up; Martin is friends with the Norwegians; holy crap this man is invincible……
      What a load of bollocks!!

  5. Nice to see how you try and denigrate knowledge Sherwulfe. Says a lot about your opinions ie. without foundation. That’s not shifting the two thirds. That’s recorded data, not bollocks.

    Meanwhile, some of us will speak to the Pilot who brings the oil tankers into Fawley Refinery to confirm our research, and also Norwegians about what happens in Norway. Lots of agriculture in Norway. They own a number of large agricultural businesses in UK, one less than a kilometre from INEOS Grangemouth plant. See a connection yet? (Interesting their opinions on such things as some in UK wanting to re-introduce beavers. But what would they know from their own experiences? They also are quite informative about this “modern” global warming referring to their Viking records.) Novel, I know, much less taxing to press a few of Jim’s keys and then declare “knowledge”. Some University lecturers (lunched with one last week) are banning that for an initial period in an attempt to get students to engage their brains. Too late for some previous generations, but here’s hoping it might benefit the next one.

    You will be pleased to know, my tresses are flowing and well guarded! Must go, seems like the local lion has another thorn. Then off to find a jaw bone-anyone seen an ass?

    (Cheer up-the next survey might be better news.)

    • Thanks Martin, but this one is awesome; 85% support for renewables, only 18% for fracking; couldn’t be better 🙂

      Make sure you put your tea set away when your finished, nanna doesn’t like an untidy nursery……

  6. Renewables rely upon gas currently and looking forward. Not a case of either/or apart from the antis. That’s why the two thirds are content for both to develop, as is the Government.

    Next, we will see a campaign that football should only allow right footers, because most support the right foot. Left foot, head, also works and those who can combine all three find it provides certain advantages. Embrace diversity-it’s supposed to be beneficial.

    I’m a Virgo. We don’t do untidy!

    • No Martin, renewables do not rely on gas; individuals such as yourself rely on gas; the current governance through it’s current policies will be not only relying on gas but promoting the use of LNG imports and choking the planet for a quick buck……

      Well the 85% who support renewables right now will be shaking their heads in disbelief at your apparent ignorance; shame.

      The 2% extra supporters who know nothing about fracking will soon disappoint you when the next rig lands in their village.

      Best put the table soccer away, it’s way past your bedtime…..

  7. You really should get some more sleep Sherwulfe! Your late night posts do start to look and read a little “fracked” around the edges.
    Do we really have 85% just using renewables? Would that include those who drive a Hybrid car utilising petrol and electricity, and so “support” renewables? (Although the electricity could just as easily have come from Sizewell!) Maybe those who have placed a few solar panels on their roofs but still obtain most of their electricity from the grid? (By the way, when will they need to remove those solar panels because some have caught fire, and of course we all remember that should lead to an outright ban!)

    I think you will find support for things that are available is slightly different from support for things that are not. If that sounds too complicated, think of the horse and then the introduction of the motor vehicle. It wasn’t until the motor vehicle was up and running that support took off, although there were some who tried to prevent it happening. Support for horses changed, but still exists. All sound familiar? Transport mix, energy mix-it is a mixed up world!

    Choices are good. Some of us sleep when it is dark, and become active when it is light, utilising the full benefits of the natural body clock.

    Must check on whether my greenhouse seedlings have done the same and are ready to plant out, although air and soil temperatures are dropping, so might give them a few more days. Heating back on!

    • …..rambling again Martin…..I understand, its’s what folk do when they are undone, and against their wishes, the battle won, and there is no better energy than that from the sun!

      Would rather have one solar panel that caught fire [likely cause faulty wiring] than the world obliterated by fossil fuel pollution; needs of the many [85%] not the few [18%] Martin.

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