The UK Research Integrity Office remains in denial of its own role in hiding research fraud

 

 

In August 2012 Bill Courtney wrote to the UK Research Integrity Office requesting that they investigate a flawed formal enquiry process at Manchester University. The enquiry panel included a UKRIO representative, Dr Pablo Fernandez.

 

(i) As you can read from the emails below, James Parry, Chief Executive of the UK Research Integrity Office sent Courtney two emails that looked plausible but effectively kicked the prospects of an enquiry into the long grass. - No enquiry was ever held.

(ii) Three years later the Chief Executive again wriggled out of holding an enquiry into misbehaviour within the UKRIO ranks.

(iii) The UKRIO is a registered charity so Courtney complained to the Charity Commission. He protested that a charity supposedly set up to defend research integrity was in fact helping to hide research fraud.

(iv) To his surprise, the Charity Commission dismissed Courtney's complaint. But using the Freedom of Information Act Courtney discovered an explanation for this. The Chief Executive of the UKRIO had supplied the the Charity Commission with false information.

The evidence to support statements (ii) - (iv) can be found on this linked page.

  

Here are the emails in support of statement (i).

You can verify their authenticity by contacting the UK Research Integrity Office directly using this link: http://www.ukrio.org/get-advice-from-ukrio/

Dear Dr Courtney,

Thank you for your email. An anonymised summary of your situation was passed to relevant members of our Register of Advisers for their consideration.

 I am sorry that we have not yet been able to present you with their views or with any requests for additional information/ clarification which they might have . UKRIO is a small organisation, staffed almost entirely by volunteers and with limited financial resources to call upon. This sometimes causes us to respond to enquiries more slowly than we would like, particularly when we are receiving an exceptionally high number of requests for assistance, as is the case at present.

 

I will check with the Advisers and come back to you as soon as possible.


Kind regards,
 
 
James

 

On 28 September 2012 10:59, Bill Courtney <billcourtney@lineone.net> wrote:

Hi James,

 

I look forward to receiving an update on your email below.

 

Cheers,

 

Bill Courtney

 


From: enquiries.ukrio@gmail.com [mailto:enquiries.ukrio@gmail.com] On Behalf Of James Parry
Sent: 23 August 2012 11:30
To: billcourtney@lineone.net
Subject: UKRIO: enquiry 2012-046

 

Dear Dr Courtney,

 

Thank you for your enquiry to the UK Research Integrity Office (UKRIO).

 

I will examine the material on your website and determine who within UKRIO would be best placed to advise on the situation described. It is quite likely that I or my colleagues will wish to clarify a few points with you before we proceed further.

 

I have allocated your enquiry the reference 2012-046 and would be grateful if you would use this in any correspondence.

 

Kind regards,

 

James Parry, Chief Executive, UK Research Integrity Office

 

T: +44 (0)1273 234 697  F: +44 (0)1273 704 499  E: james.parry@ukrio.org  W: www.ukrio.org

 

UK Research Integrity Office, Sussex Innovation Centre, University of Sussex, Science Park Square, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9SB

 

 

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Getting the Formal Enquiry fraud into perspective

The pessimistic reader should not be tempted in to thinking that all formal enquiry panels are corrupt.

There are unusual circumstances relating to this case that made secondary fraud exceptionally tempting to the panel.

(i The original research fraud was very embarrassing for British science because it affected a European road safety directive. It may have cost European pedestrians their lives and led to many more being crippled for life.

(ii) This is unfortunate for the pedestrians concerned. But a more direct consequence for British universities is that exposure of the fraud may have affected their lucrative EU funding.

(iii) Prior to the Formal Enquiry, Manchester University had spent several years trying to hide the fraud. If the Enquiry Panel had acknowledged this cover-up it could have been used as evidence by injured European pedestrians seeking compensation from the University for its negligence.

(iv)  The University concerned was exceptionally ambitious in its desire to become one of the worlds top twenty five research institutions.

(v) At the time of the formal enquiry, Manchester University was on the verge of Nobel glory. An open and honest Formal Enquiry Report would have been unhelpful.

(vi) The chair of the Formal Enquiry Panel was in a very difficult and unenviable position because she was also collaborating with the two eventual Nobel Prize winners.
http://www.physics.leeds.ac.uk/index.php?id=263&uid=1402

 

 What Bill Courtney has learned from his experience

The modern British research establishment appears to be more concerned with protecting its public image than acting ethically.1 

This tarnishes our scientific heritage, bequeathed to us  by great British researchers such as Newton, Darwin, Turing, Hodgkin and Franklin.

A volunteer UK Research Integrity Office that prefers to hide the truth will do more harm than good for British science.

We need a fearless and scrupulously ethical national research watchdog that will not rely on volunteers cherry picking easy cases.

Based on his experience, Bill makes a number of  proposals for reform on his Science under attack web page.

 

The wider consequences for Bill Courtney as an inventor
 

It is twenty nine years since Bill invented Shock Absorbing Liquid (SALi). Since then he has spent his 140,000 retirement savings and many thousands of hours striving to develop SALi for the public good. The UK taxpayer has also contributed 290,000 to help in this work. However, thanks to the misbehaviour of a tiny handful of people, nobody has benefited from it.

Bill has also lost a potential royalty income of several million Pounds that he intended to reinvest in other inventions to save lives. The most serious investment loss of all relates to his Latent Power Turbines2. These could make a significant contribution to fighting climate change.

 

British science should not be judged by one bad example

In the twenty nine years since Bill invented SALi Technology, science, medicine and technology have made great advances. British researchers have punched well above their weight in helping to make this happen. We Brits should be proud of this.
Bill certainly is!

The SALi scandal is shameful, but the UK government is still acting wisely when it  invests our money in great British science.

 

1Bill appealed to the following representatives of the establishment for assistance, all without success.
T
he EPSRC, Universities UK, The UK Research Integrity Office, The Royal Society, The Campaign for Science and Engineering, the Council for the Defence of British Universities, the UoM Institute for Science, Ethics and Innovation, the Science Minister (Lord Sainsbury, via his MP). He has also written to science magazines, journals and newspaper science editors whenever they have made reference to the problem of science research fraud.

2 Back in 2001, Bill hawked his embryonic LP Turbine, which took the form of a Parallel Stirling Cryocooler, round the physics and engineering departments at Manchester University. Quite understandably, nobody was interested in working with him until he could make a personal financial contribution to the project. This chance never came.

He did apply to The Joule Centre at Manchester University for funding, but his bid was rejected. There was a delay of twelve years before he finally obtained TSB/EPSRC funding to build a prototype LP Turbine. Meanwhile, climate change has made its mark.

 

INTERNAL LINKS

Back to the preceding page.

The PedSALi project page. Academic jealousy relating to this project triggered the most serious SALi research fraud.

What is SALi? Go to Section Six of this web page for a history of SALi and comprehensive details of the SALi shenanigans at Manchester University UK.