Claire Lougarre, UCL Laws PhD candidate
Professor Philippe Sands and Sigrid Rausing
What would you do if Saif Gaddafi offered you millions of pounds towards a research project, or if Rupert Murdoch did? Accepting money for research from philanthropic sources, or from people who might want to set research agendas, is a difficult ethical minefield.
Luckily, at this UCL Institute for Human Rights event on 29 May, we had capable guides to see us through the issues. Even if they did not have all the answers, they were certainly equipped to ask and deepen our understanding of the right questions.
Professor Philippe Sands QC welcomed Sigrid Rausing (Rausing Trust), Professor Jonathan Wolff (UCL Philosophy), Anthony Tomei (Nuffield Foundation) and Dr George Letsas (UCL Laws) to the panel.
Dr Saladin Meckled-Garcia (UCL Political Sciences), co-director of the Institute, welcomed the large audience by highlighting the recent UCL campaign to raise more than £300 million for UCL projects from donors. Does giving money buy you influence and power?
UCL Council has asserted its commitment to preserve the university’s independence from any donor agenda. Nevertheless, in the light of recent scandals, such as Gaddafi’s funding of the LSE, which led to the Woolf Enquiry, the question of ethics in research philanthropy remains.