Colin Harvey, Professor of Human Rights Law at Queens University Belfast, is facing an online smear campaign from politicians, journalists and social media claiming that he is part of the far right. His physical safety is threatened. This appears to be retaliation for his academic work examining the status of Northern Ireland in light of Brexit.
April 1, 2022
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
10 Downing St,
London SW1A 2AA, United Kingdom
Phone: +44 020 7219 4682
Dear Prime Minister Johnson:
The Committee of Concerned Scientists is an independent organization of scientists, physicians, engineers, and scholars devoted to the protection and advancement of human rights and scientific freedom for colleagues all over the world.
We are writing in regard to Colin Harvey, who is Professor of Human Rights Law at Queen’s University Belfast and was the Commissioner of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, and a member of the Northern Ireland Higher Education Council. He is facing an online smear campaign from politicians, journalists and social media promoting a theory that he is part of the far right. His physical safety is threatened. This appears to be retaliation for his academic work examining the status of Northern Ireland in light of the UK’s exit from the European Union.
Harvey is also a board member of the “Ireland’s Future”, which was established to “promote debate and discussion about Ireland’s future, including the possibility and viability of new constitutional arrangements on the island” after Brexit. As a recognized scholar in this area, he is entitled to his opinion, whether it is mainstream or not. The Committee of Concerned Scientists is concerned that a smear campaign against Harvey is a precursor to physical violence against him that will silence discussion of difficult constitutional issues, as had, unfortunately, occurred in the not so distant history of Northern Ireland.
We write to urge your government to ensure the safety of Harvey and to speak out against the smear campaign against him in order to promote academic freedom and to promote peace in a region that has historically been beset by violence.
Thank you for your attention to this serious matter. We will be closely following developments in Harvey’s case.
Philip T. Reeker
Chargé d’Affaires, ad interim, to the United Kingdom
U.S. Embassy London
33 Nine Elms Lane
London, SW11 7US
Phone: +44 020 7499-9000
Antony J. Blinken
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520 USA
Phone: (202) 647-4000
Dame Karen Elizabeth Pierce
Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the United States of America.
British Embassy Washington
3100 Massachusetts Ave NW,
Washington, DC 20008
Elizabeth Mary Truss
Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs
King Charles Street
London, SW1A 2AH, United Kingdom
Phone: +44 020 7008 5000