Taxpayers to Pay £15,000 in Damages to Academic Over Donelan’s Hamas Claim

Credits: Inverness Courier

The Department for Science, Innovation, and Technology (DSIT) has disclosed that taxpayers bore the cost of £15,000 to settle damages paid to an academic, Professor Kate Sang, whom Science Secretary Michelle Donelan falsely accused of supporting Hamas. DSIT clarified that the payment was made “without admitting any liability.”

Following the retraction of her statements, calls for Donelan’s resignation and personal accountability for the costs have intensified. Last year, Donelan had to retract comments alleging Prof. Sang’s support for the militant group Hamas.

In response, Prof. Sang initiated a libel action against Donelan after the latter tweeted a letter expressing concern over Prof. Sang and another academic’s alleged “extremist views.”

Taxpayer (Credits: The Times)

Donelan’s tweet referred to Prof. Sang’s reaction to a Guardian article discussing the response to Hamas attacks in the UK. The minister’s acknowledgment that Prof. Sang’s comments pertained to the article as a whole, rather than just its headline, led to increased scrutiny over the matter.

Calls for transparency emerged, prompting DSIT to reveal that the department covered the settlement costs. DSIT justified its decision by citing a longstanding precedent where ministers receive legal support and representation in matters related to their conduct and ministerial responsibilities.

The controversy has sparked debates over accountability and transparency in government communication. Critics argue that ministers should be held accountable for their statements, especially when they have serious consequences for individuals.

Some have called for stricter regulations and oversight to prevent similar incidents. In response to the backlash, Donelan issued a statement expressing regret over the situation and emphasizing the importance of accurate and responsible communication.

She also reiterated her commitment to supporting academic freedom and diversity of opinion. Meanwhile, Prof. Sang has called for a full investigation to determine how and why the false accusations were made.

She has also emphasized the need for accountability and transparency in government communications. The case highlights the challenges of balancing freedom of speech with the need to prevent misinformation and defamation.

It also underscores the importance of holding public officials accountable for their actions and statements, particularly when they impact individuals’ reputations and livelihoods.

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