Select Committee on Science and Technology Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witness (Questions 120-128)

5 JULY 2004


  Q120 Bob Spink: But had it worked—

  Professor Southwood: I think what you are trying to get at, and I am not afraid to say it: had it worked, then I am sure I would have been sitting here trying to defend why all missions were not done this way, and that would have made my life even more interesting than it is now. Of course, I wanted it work.

  Q121 Chairman: As a last question: why do you not publish it?

  Professor Southwood: It is not for me to publish it. It is an independent inquiry report. There are two parties to that: the British Government and the European Space Agency.

  Q122 Chairman: Are you keen on it being published?

  Professor Southwood: I do not mind. Let me just state that I am not speaking ex cathedra. As a private position I do not mind. From a public position, I have to say ESA and the United Kingdom, and this is now speaking ex cathedra, made an agreement not to publish for reasons that I think are explained to you. One was because it involves inter-governmental agreements and the second was that there are issues concerning, say, the commercial relationships between several companies.

  Q123 Chairman: Those little sentences could be blanked out and the majority of that report could be published? A lot of what you have said is in there.

  Professor Southwood: I deliberately did not bring the report with me so you would get what I thought and what my colleagues thought. I also deliberately tried to avoid the sensitive areas.

  Q124 Chairman: You have done that and we have done it too.

  Professor Southwood: I think that is a very good idea.

  Q125 Chairman: Is it not time to open it up now and put it out there? People are asking for it.

  Professor Southwood: I think this is a matter of policy. I am not a lawyer and I am only recently a civil servant. I do not feel capable of answering that question.

  Q126 Chairman: Has ESA got an official position on this document?

  Professor Southwood: The ESA position is that they do not normally publish. They did not publish, for instance, the much more expensive failure, the inquiry board report on the Ariane 157. That was far more serious for Europe than the loss of Beagle 2.

  Q127 Chairman: Do you think the British are the inhibitory force here?

  Professor Southwood: It was a joint agreement, so I do not think you can blame it on one side. I do not have anyone from the UK Government sitting beside me.

  Q128 Chairman: I am not going to get you to say it, am I?

  Professor Southwood: No.

  Chairman: Thank you very much, Professor Southwood. It has been very interesting.

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