Drug Policy Expert Dumped From Drug Policy Panel Because She Criticized Government Drug Policy

Niamh Eastwood is the Executive Director of Release, the UK's "national centre of expertise on drugs and drugs law."

Because of her expertise, Eastwood had been recommended as a candidate to the UK's government's Advisory Council on Misuse of Drugs. On June 11, 2019, the Guardian reported that:

A government minister vetoed the appointment of an expert to a public body after vetting found she had criticised the Home Office and called for drug policy reform, it has emerged.

Documents released under a subject access request also reveal that candidates for public bodies now have their social media profiles scrutinised by ministers, including posts regarding the “PM/government”, Windrush, Brexit and anything “diversity-related”.

The Guardian noted that:

Corey Stoughton, Liberty’s advocacy director, said: “Rather than creating an echo chamber of ‘yes people’, the Home Office should be open to the sort of honest feedback and genuine scrutiny that comes with recruiting the best people available.

“Preserving the independence of these important advisory and oversight bodies is critical to stop damaging policies and bad practice from becoming entrenched. As a ministry that has produced more than its fair share of scandal and criticism, we should be particularly concerned about this practice from the Home Office.”