An open letter to the Vice-Chancellor

Today’s issue of Guild Gazette carries the following ‘Open Letter to the Vice-Chancellor’, seeking answers on the issue of University involvement in chemical and biological warfare research.  It is written by Dave Jenkins on behalf of  Socialist Society:

It has recently come to our notice that, for at least the last 18 months, the University of Liverpool has been engaged in chemical and biological warfare research in connection with the Ministry of Defence institution at Porton Down.

This information was originally revealed in the House of Commons in May 1968 and has since been confirmed by people involved in some of the projects.

We feel that the full facts of the involvement of this university in this hideous and macabre research should be made available at once.

Therefore, we ask from you information concerning:

  1. The nature of all Ministry of Defence contracts being undertaken at present in the University.
  2. The extent of the research grants donated by the Ministry of Defence to the University.
  3. The departments involved in the chemical and biological warfare research.
  4. The programme for future chemical and biological warfare research projects.

We feel that insufficient thought has been given to the moral and social issues involved in accepting such research and ask for an assurance that the forgoing points will be answered and future research into chemical and biological warfare will cease forthwith.

Dave Jenkins, on behalf of Liverpool University Socialist Society


This is the relevant passage from Hansard for 29 May 1968:

Chemical and Microbiological Warfare

HC Deb 29 May 1968 vol 765 cc226-7W 226W

Mr. Dalyell asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will give details of the research sponsored in British universities and institutions by his Department relating to chemical and microbiological warfare.

Mr. J. Morris: Following are the details:

  • Factors influencing the gelation of liquids with special reference to organic liquids and gels without chemical cross-links  – Welsh College of Advanced Technology
  • The effect of drugs on neuro-muscular transmissions and contractile force of mammalian skeletal muscle – University of Bristol
  • Studies relevant to the reactivation of Organo-phosphorus inhibited enzymes  – University of St. Andrews


  • Investigation of Fluorocarbohydrates  – University of Oxford
  • Diffusion controlled electrodes for use in biological systems –  Birkbeck College, London University
  • Investigation of the use of Hydrated Calcium phosphate and related materials for the purification and fractionation of viruses and viral compounds  – Oxford College of Technology
  • Fractionation of Compounds of Microbial Origin important in the pathogenesis of infectious diseases- University of Birmingham
  • Electrophoretic Behaviour of Bacteria – University of Liverpool

Author: Gerry

Retired college teacher living in Liverpool, UK.

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