UK minister apologises for making Edinburgh professor Hamas claim on social media

It cost taxpayers £15,000 to cover damages paid to Professor Kate Sang.

A UK Government minister has apologised for not raising concerns privately about the views of an academic she falsely accused of supporting Hamas.

It cost taxpayers £15,000 to cover damages paid to Edinburgh professor Kate Sang.

Science secretary Michelle Donelan apologised for not privately writing to UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) when she raised concerns about the alleged views shared on social media by Professor Sang and Dr Kamna Patel.

Prof Sang launched a libel action against Donelan after the minister tweeted a letter she had written to UKRI in October, expressing “disgust and outrage” the academics had “shared extremist views” and expressed sympathy for Hamas after the October 7 attacks in Israel.

The letter followed a tweet by Prof Sang saying “This is disturbing”, and containing a link to an article by The Guardian describing the response to the Hamas attacks in the UK, while Dr Patel had retweeted a post describing Israeli actions as “genocide and apartheid”.

Donelan has since accepted that Prof Sang’s comments referred to the story as a whole, and not just the headline, and £15,000 of taxpayer money has been used to cover the damages.

Speaking at the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee in Tuesday, Donelan said: “While I always err on the side of transparency, I am now clear that in this case I could have sent the letter in confidence to the UKRI in order for them to undertake the investigations privately.

“And I do apologise for not having done so, and for any distraction that this decision has caused from this Government’s positive agenda.”

The £15,000 was paid “without admitting any liability”, according to the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT).

The Cabinet minister has faced calls to resign and to pay the cost herself.

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