FOI requests have been sent to every university in Britain asking for details about animal experiments. The requests were sent by a convicted animal rights activist.
"We’re putting the FOIs in just to find out what is happening with vivisection at the universities. If they’ve got nothing to hide, then it’s not a problem for them to put the information out there."
The researchers are nevertheless concerned.
"The way these questions are phrased, I don’t think this is an exercise in openness," said Syed Khawar Abbas, veterinary officer at the University of Leeds. "This information can be used for intimidation. In the wrong hands, this information can cause problems for our scientists."
An information officer at a different university, who did not want to be identified, said: "This has caused a great deal of concern among our staff who are worried about receiving threats or worse. Most scientists faced with FOI requests are happy to put stuff into the open and welcome the scrutiny, but in this case they are having to second guess the motives of people who might use this information."
Oh yes, and this sounded familiar:
One university scientist said: "The most likely motivation here is that they want to catch somebody out. If they can find some bad wording in minutes from a meeting, then they can use that to claim we are up to no good."
I think we can go ahead now and add ‘harassment by FOI’ to the activist handbook.