Richard Adams, Guardian, May 1, 2019
A Cambridge University college has dismissed a researcher after uncovering evidence of his collaboration with far-right extremists, with the head of the college apologising “unreservedly” to students for the appointment.
St Edmund’s College announced it had terminated the post held by Noah Carl, who was at the centre of protests earlier this year after being named as the college’s Toby Jackman Newton Trust junior research fellow.
Carl’s appointment prompted complaints from students and staff that his writings on race and intelligence helped “legitimise racist stereotypes”, with more than 1,000 people signing an open letter attacking Carl’s publications.
A special investigation panel appointed by the college upheld the complaints and said Carl “had put a body of work into the public domain that did not comply with established criteria for research ethics and integrity”.
Matthew Bullock, the master of St Edmund’s, said in a statement: “The panel found that in the course of pursuing this problematic work, Dr Carl had collaborated with a number of individuals who were known to hold extremist views.
“There was a serious risk that Dr Carl’s appointment could lead, directly or indirectly, to the college being used as a platform to promote views that could incite racial or religious hatred, and bring the college into disrepute.
“In addition, the panel also noted that the way in which Dr Carl has conducted himself with regard to his publications and the ideas he has expressed have had a detrimental effect on the atmosphere within the college, with feelings of hurt, betrayal, anger and disbelief that the college could be associated with such views.”
In an email sent to the St Edmund’s combination room – the equivalent of a students’ union – Bullock told students: “In light of these findings, on behalf of the governing body and myself, I apologise unreservedly for the hurt and offence felt by all members of the combination room.
“Diversity and inclusivity are fundamental values of the college and we abhor racism and religious hatred. There are lessons we must learn about how we demonstrate the importance of these values and we will take action to repair the damage that has been caused to our college community.”
The research fellowship held by Carl was a paid position lasting three years and included college dining rights and accommodation allowances.
The college said Carl had been given multiple opportunities to reply to the criticisms, which he did in written submissions and at meetings with both investigations conducted for the college.
“The outcome is that some aspects of Dr Carl’s work do not fulfil the criteria we expected for academic scholarship. Those findings made Dr Carl’s position as a research fellow at St Edmund’s untenable,” Bullock said.
“We appointed Dr Carl based on his academic achievements at the University of Oxford and on the commendations which supported his application. It is regrettable that such an appointment has been compromised by Dr Carl’s other activities, of which we were completely unaware when electing him to the fellowship.”
A second investigation into Carl’s recruitment, led by Patrick Elias, a retired court of appeal judge, found no failings in the college’s procedure but noted “concerns about Dr Carl only came to light after the recruitment process was concluded”.
However, he made a number of recommendations for changes to the college’s appointment procedures.
Carl was previously a research fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford, and attended the London Conference on Intelligence, where “race intelligence” and eugenics were discussed. After news of the closed-doors meeting emerged, University College London said it would bar the conference from using its facilities in future.
In March, the Canadian academic Jordan Peterson announced he was to be an unpaid visiting fellow at Cambridge’s divinity school this summer, but the offer was later rescinded after an outcry among students and faculty members.
[Editor’s Note: An article with more information about Noah Carl and his work is available here.]