A LEADING academic has warned Scottish democracy is under attack as he admonished the “authoritarian” UK Government amid a row over the mysterious disappearance of a blog post about independence.

Dr Mike Galsworthy – a visiting researcher at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and co-founder of Scientists for EU – raised the alarm over the censuring of scientists and warned Scotland in particular is at risk of Westminster’s dirty tricks.

The blog post, published on the London School of Economics (LSE) website, was co-authored by UK Government economic adviser Geoffrey Chapman, who works with the Department for International Trade. The analysis concluded that there are no reasons to suggest an independent Scotland “would not succeed economically”.

But after The National reported on the article on April 1, having approached the UK Government for comment, it was mysteriously removed from the LSE website.

On April 2, a message appeared on the website stating: “We have been asked by the authors to take this article down temporarily. We will be making it available again as soon as we are able to and apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

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Downing Street has refused to deny that it ordered the deletion, stating only: “This is not the view of the Department for International Trade or the UK Government, and the matter is being looked into.” As of yesterday evening, the blog post is yet to reappear on the LSE website.

The case has prompted concern in the academic community. Galsworthy, responding online, wrote: “This is very alarming for academic freedom.”

Speaking to The National, the scientist said the case was symptomatic of Number 10’s paranoia, and condemned the treatment of Scotland.

He said: “Increasingly I’m becoming alarmed by the very authoritarian and almost paranoid behaviour of this government.”

Galsworthy pointed to the prorogation of Parliament, a lack of transparency over Brexit agreements and the so-called “clearing house” on Freedom of Information requests in the Cabinet Office.

“It all comes back to this government,” he explained. “It hasn’t ‘taken back control’ to give it to the people or Parliament – or even devolved nations. It is all pulling it back into their own executive that makes decisions and then seeks to, behind the scenes, silence all potential channels of critique and discussion.”

Turning his attention to the constitutional debate, the academic added: “Given the behaviour of the government under the control of the Conservative Party, potentially for the foreseeable future, I would say that democracy of the Scottish people is under threat. It will take a very robust rearrangement of some sort in order to set that right.

“There are an increasing number of areas where we should have the capacity for free and open debate and discussion and democracy where we are not getting it in the UK as a whole – and I think there’s a danger of seeing that more acutely in Scotland.”

The National:

The UK Government had been accused of demanding the deletion of the LSE blog post by pro-independence organisation Independence for Scotland.

Downing Street refused to deny that it had pressured the authors to remove the article and merely repeated that it had not reflected the views of the UK Government.

Business for Scotland chief executive Gordon Macintyre-Kemp said: “We have to ask if the UK Government pressurised academics not to publish the obvious truth that Scotland will thrive and prosper as an independent nation. The suppression of academic views coupled with skewed research papers paid for by the UK Government is the sort of behaviour you would expect in dictatorships, not modern democracies.

“If it is happening here in the UK then that is a clear indicator of a failing state.”

The UK Government declined to respond to Galsworthy’s comments and merely stressed that Chapman, the co-author of the LSE blog post, is a civil servant and is expected to meet standards of “impartiality” and “integrity” set out in the Civil Service Code.