Will the resignation of Jeremy Farrar mark an end to the uneasy alliance between science and politics?

By all means, let’s hear scientists make their case to the public. And let Sage continue to advise, as was always its intended function. But leave it to the government to decide, writes Mary Dejevsky

Thursday 04 November 2021 21:30
<p>Sir Jeremy Farrar’s statement was widely read as a warning of what might be to come </p>

Sir Jeremy Farrar’s statement was widely read as a warning of what might be to come

In other circumstances, the departure of Sir Jeremy Farrar from the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) would have made a lot more waves. But there are probably two reasons why his exit this week was so low-key.

One was that it coincided with the congregation of world leaders for the climate summit in Glasgow, that crowded almost everything else out of the news. The other was that this is how he wanted it; quietly confident in his views, Sir Jeremy can make waves if he wants to.

In the event, he did not make a big deal of his decision. Nor did he flag it in advance. He simply issued a statement, saying that he had left at the end of October and would now focus on his post as director of the charitable Wellcome Trust. It is a decision you can hardly fault, given that this is a big job and one that, by all accounts, he does well.

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