George Faulkner is an independent researcher focusing on the political impact of problems within medical research. This is not what he intended to become.
In 2013 he was asked to write a blog summarising concerns raised by others about the PACE trial, the first clinical trial to receive funding from the DWP, and explain why these concerns were relevant to people interested in welfare reform.
What was expected to be two weeks of work led to three years of research and fact-checking, along with the grim realisation that the problems in this area were so serious and widespread that that no-one could hope to explore them comprehensively.
Since then, a UN enquiry found that UK welfare reforms led to “grave and systematic violations” of the rights of disabled people, and the PACE trial has become an international embarrassment for the institutions involved.
Carol Monaghan, member of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, has argued that “when the full details of the [PACE] trial become known, it will be considered one of the biggest medical scandals of the 21st century”. Yet well connected UK researchers, and their institutions, remain able to ignore the problems with their work and the harm done to others.