Mike McCulloch. (Credit: Plymouth University)

Physicist could be fired over ‘All Lives Matter’ tweet

Laser scientist with US Defence contract is the latest victim of the culture war

Artillery Row

A PhD Physics lecturer, who has a contract with the US Department of Defence, is being investigated by his University over his Twitter feed.

Mike McCulloch, who has worked at the University of Plymouth for over ten years, has been summoned to a hearing next Wednesday after an anonymous colleague sent his boss a number of tweets he had ‘liked’.

The physicist currently works at the School of Biology and Marine Sciences but previously was employed by the Met Office.

The tweets in question are said to include statements that: “all lives matter”, some that suggest a scientific basis for gender, and others that express support for ending mass immigration.

The lecturer, whose experimental work could fundamentally change our understanding of the universe, says he has asked senior colleagues for the specific rule he is purported to have broken, but has not received a response.

McCulloch told The Critic:

“On Wednesday it will be decided whether they will fire me or not, but I want to stand on principle – it’s very sinister if people are now telling me what I am allowed to ‘like’. It seems it is possible for a single anonymous person anywhere in the world to destroy somebody’s career. Our whole society is becoming hysterical which is a very dangerous thing.”

McCulloch also pointed out that universities had a statutory right to defend freedom of speech under the Human Rights Act 1998.

The scientist has received funding to work on a propulsion method which uses lasers instead of rocket fuel. Promising results from the lab means that DARPA, an agency of the US Department of Defence, has agreed to continue funding his research.

The system, which involves firing lasers into a metal box, relies on a theory which does not require dark matter to exist, the presence of which is essential to current understanding of the universe.

McCulloch says he is a fan of Elon Musk, the tech billionaire whose SpaceX company has just launched a manned rocket into space, but jokes that the space mogul is wasting fuel.

The physicist plans to take a legal representative into the hearing and has joined the Free Speech Union after founder Toby Young offered to help.

The University of Plymouth has refused several requests for comment.


UPDATE: The University of Plymouth have now dropped their investigation into Mike McCulloch.

Toby Young, founder of the Free Speech Union said:

“I’m pleased to report that the University has now dropped its investigation of Mike. If any other academics find themselves under investigation because their politics are at odds with the prevailing orthodoxy within their universities, whether they’re liberals or conservatives, they should contact me at [email protected]. The FSU will stand up for their right to free speech – in the courts, if necessary.”

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