Outcome of investigation: Research England EDI Expert Advisory Group

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In October 2023, Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology, Michelle Donelan, wrote a letter raising concerns about the views expressed on social media by members of the Research England Expert Advisory Group on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI).

The actions set out in the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Chief Executive’s response to the Secretary of State’s letter have been carried out, and the UKRI Board and Research England Council have each considered relevant aspects of the issues raised.

Central to UKRI’s response was a well-governed, principled, evidence-based independent investigation of the Secretary of State’s concerns reporting to the UKRI Board.

Following the independent investigation, the UKRI Board has found no evidence of a breach of the Research England Expert Advisory Group on EDI’s terms of reference and no failure to uphold the Seven Principles of Public Life (The Nolan Principles).

Moreover, the UKRI Board found no evidence in the public domain of support for a proscribed terrorist organisation or the sharing of extremist material and no grounds to remove any individual members of the Research England Expert Advisory Group on EDI.

The Research England Council has advised that expert input to the Research England EDI action plan is still required from a range of sources including this Expert Advisory Group.

The UKRI Board would like to thank all those involved in this matter for their patience and understanding while the complex and sensitive issues that were raised were given due consideration.

UKRI regrets any difficulties experienced by members of the Research England Expert Advisory Group during this period. We now warmly invite the group to reconvene and to contribute their expertise as we resume the group’s important work. The Research England executive team will be contacting members to discuss the next steps with them.

UKRI Chief Executive Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser said:

Our intention, as soon as these concerns were raised by the Secretary of State, was to adopt a well-governed process to support evidenced, principled decisions.

I am grateful for the thorough work of all those involved in this investigation. I hope this will bring clear resolution in a way that best supports all of those who serve on our advisory groups, and research and innovation in the UK.

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