Daily Mail: issue a full apology to Dr Peiris and Dr Aderin-Pocock

On March 17, two University College London academics (Dr Hiranya Peiris and Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock) appeared on Newsnight to discuss recently announced discoveries from the Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization 2 (Bicep2) experiment, regarding the early stages of the expansion of the universe.

On March 19, an item in the Daily Mail suggested that the participation of the two scientists was due to their ethnic background, nationality and gender, rather than expertise; it also incorrectly attributed the recent discoveries to "(white, male) American scientists". We offer unequivocal support to our two UCL colleagues, whose academic and public engagement records clearly prove they are excellent guests for the discussion of this topic. We regret the decision of the Daily Mail's columnist to perpetuate the tired stereotype of science as the preserve of white males, and to belittle the considerable achievements of two very successful members of our academic community.

We urge the Daily Mail to issue an official, public apology to the two scientists involved; their columnist's "apology" of March 21 is not sufficient, using the disparaging term 'ladies' rather than 'women' or, indeed, scientists/astronomers.

Initiated by:

UCL UCU Executive Committee

Initial Signatories:

Jon Butterworth - HoD in Physics and Astronomy

Mike Barlow - Head of the Astrophysics Group

Jonathan Tennyson - Massey Professor of Physics

Ofer Lahav -MAPS Vice Dean for Research and Perrin Professor of Astronomy

Giovanna Tinetti - Professor of Astrophysics

Tania Monteiro - Professor of Physics

Jon Agar - Professor of Science and Technology Studies

Serena Viti - Professor of Astrophysics

Gaetana Laricchia - Professor of Physics

Steven Miller – Professor of Science Communication and Planetary Science

Cecil Thompson - Co-chair of the UCL Race Equality Steering Group

Susan Michie – Professor of Health Psychology, UCL

Robert West – Professor of Health Psychology, UCL

Helen Hackett - Professor of English, UCL

Bas Aarts – Professor of English Linguistics, UCL

Susanne Kord – Professor of German, UCL

Lucie Clapp – Professor of Vascular Physiology, UCL

Cecile Laborde – Professor of Political Theory, UCL

Sean Wallis - UCL UCU president, London Region HE secretary and UCU NEC member

Tony Brown - UCL UCU Branch Secretary

Rachele De Felice -UCL UCU Executive Committee member

Mark Ford - Professor of English

Richard North - Professor of English

Philip Horne - Professor of English

Rachel Bowlby -Lord Northcliffe Professor of Modern English Literature

Peter Swaab - Professor of English

Susan Irvine -Quain Professor of English Language and Literature

Rosemary Ashton - Emeritus Quain Professor of English Language and Literature


  • Jonathan Moran Is anyone surprised? I would not pick up my dog's faeces with the Daily Mail.

  • Marina Isaac Well, imagine the looks you'd get from passers by - they might think you read the nasty little propaganda rag...

  • Jeremy Tanner Astonishing that such blatant racism and sexism considered acceptable in 21st century media. One assumes, unless the Mail issues an official and public apology that they endorse these views and are happy to be seen as a racist and sexist rag.

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Recent signatures

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    eamon verrall

    5 months ago Comments: -
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    Dave Ladbrook

    7 months ago Comments: I agree with Jonathan Moran's comments.
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    James Couzens

    9 months ago Comments: -
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Petition highlights

  • I'm very happy to do this. On behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society I sent a link to our supporting note to Paul Dacre and have also yet to receive a reply.
  • The Daily Mail should apologise to both the UCL scientists and the BICEP2 science team.
  • As a Professor of Astrophysical Sciences in Princeton University, I can attest to the high level of expertise Drs. Peiris and Aderin-Pocock have in the field of cosmology in general, and measurements of the Cosmic Microwave Background in particular.
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