NRF must come clean on astronomer

The National Research Foundation must make public the charges against SA Astronomical Observatory director Phil Charles, the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa said yesterday.

The National Research Foundation must make public the charges against SA Astronomical Observatory director Phil Charles, the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa said yesterday.

ASSA also demanded that the records of the disciplinary hearing which led to Charles' reinstatement should be made available.

This followed reported fears that Charles' suspension and subsequent reinstatement by the NRF could jeopardise the country's bid to host one of the largest science projects on earth - the R20billion international Square Kilometre Array radio telescope.

The NRF reportedly suspended Charles on charges that he shared secret information with colleagues on decisions it had made.

ASSA council member Maciej Soltynski said the record of the hearing should be opened "so that the scientific community and taxpayers can judge the merits of the affair for themselves.

Soltynski expressed concern over the matter, adding that any "unwarranted negative publicity" regarding the administration and governance of science in the country could affect its scientists negatively.

The NRF was not immediately able to comment. - Sapa

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