Bristol University has rejected the claim that a new ‘report’ by discredited anti-hunt academic Professor Stephen Harris is attributed to the University. A recent Sunday Times article by Science Editor Jonathan Leake, printed on 7 January 2018, titled ‘Hounds linked to spread of farm diseases’ relayed findings from a Bristol University report, funded by the League Against Cruel Sports and compiled by Professor Stephen Harris of Bristol’s mammal unit.
The University’s Director of External Affairs, Alicia O’Grady, has confirmed that the article is incorrect and that the publication should instead be attributed as a report independently commissioned by the League Against Cruel Sports. The University has also said they will be following up this factual inaccuracy with the Sunday Times and Mr Leake himself.
Professor Stephen Harris, who is believed to have retired from a role at Bristol University, was previously responsible for the collapse of a high profile criminal prosecution in 2015 when he failed to disclose a long-term relationship with a prosecution witness, and his friendship with Paul Tillsley, the head of investigations at the League Against Cruel Sport as well as his other connections to the group.
Countryside Alliance’s Chief Executive Tim Bonner said: “This once again calls into question Professor Stephen Harris’ neutrality on the subject of hunting. Professor Harris is regularly called as an expert witness in Hunting Act cases yet he has a long history of bias towards anti-hunting organisations such as the League Against Cruel Sports. It is deeply concerning that a disgraced academic who shows no impartiality is allowed so much influence on the issue. Bristol University has rejected the claim that the report can be associated with it in any way. The authors had no access to hounds, hunt kennels nor did they have any contact with hunt managers or veterinarians.”