Leicester scientist's research mentioned in Leveson evidence
This week, research by Professor Charalambos Kyriacou, of our Department of Genetics, was brought up in none other than the Leveson Inquiry, the public inquiry into media standards following the News International phone hacking scandal.
Although the main focus of the inquiry is on the specific claims of phone hacking and payment to police officers at the News of the World, the general culture and ethics of the British media is also under the spotlight. On Monday it was the turn of long-standing Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre to take the witness stand.
While being questioned on whether his newspaper puts a "sensationalist” spin on scientific research, Dacre was asked about a Daily Mail story from April 2010 headlined 'Cancer danger of that night-time trip to the toilet'.
The article drew on research by Professor Kyriacou and Dr Rachel Ben-Shlomo from the University of Haifa, and stated “Simply turning on a light at night for a few seconds to go to the toilet can cause changes that might lead to cancer, scientists claim”. Later that same day, a full rebuttal was published on Newsblog - Turning on the light to go to the toilet does not give you cancer - which spraed rapidly across the web thanks to a tweet from 'Bad Science' journalist Ben Goldacre. Given this particular story as an example, Dacre denied that the Daily Mail adopts an irresponsible position on medical stories (you can read a transcript of the conversation here at 4.44pm).
On the subject of high places, a University academic made his voice heard in the House of Lords this week too.
Viscount Hanworth, who is a professor at Leicester, warned that new immigration laws could reduce the number of legitimate international students at UK universities, according to the Press Association.