A prominent economist who is a trustee of the UK’s principal climate science denial group is no longer Chair of the Board of Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) after completing the maximum term allowed for governors.
Jerome Booth’s departure comes after almost 200 current and former faculty and students sent an open letter last year to ARU’s Board complaining that his association with the Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF) “brings our university into disrepute”.
The letter called on ARU to be “at the forefront of action” on climate change, and said Booth’s choice to become a GWPF trustee while Chair was “in direct contradiction to this commitment”. It called for Booth to step down from his GWPF role.
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Dr Sarah Royston, a Research Fellow at ARU’s Global Sustainability Institute, who organised the letter, said she was “shocked and disappointed” when she found out about Booth’s GWPF association from DeSmog’s reporting last year.
“A lot of my colleagues, as well as students and alumni, felt the same, and so we put together an Open Letter calling for our Governors to be active advocates for evidence-based action on climate change,” she told DeSmog. She hoped the yet-to-be-announced new Chair would help “deepen our whole-organisation commitment to real action on the climate emergency”.
Booth told DeSmog shortly after his appointment to the GWPF’s board that he had decided to join the group because he was “interested in energy policy and believes greater scrutiny of climate policies is needed.” He also confirmed he had made donations to the GWPF.
Just months after Booth took over as Chair of Anglia Ruskin University, a mock memorial to climate science deniers, including GWPF founder Nigel Lawson, Christopher Monckton and Owen Paterson, Melanie Phillips and James Delingpole, won the university’s annual Sustainability Art Prize.
Booth has featured on the Sunday Times Rich List with an estimated wealth of £112 million. He runs asset management company New Sparta and was briefly a Lecturer at the University of Oxford, where he studied. He has donated a total of £20,000 to the Conservative Party, as well as £30,000 to Conservative MP and former International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell. No donations have been made since 2013, according to the Electoral Commission.
Along with his GWPF trusteeship, Booth remains Chairman of the Board of UK Community Foundations, Britten Symphonia, and the Royal Philharmonic Society. He did not respond to a request for comment.
An ARU spokesperson confirmed that “Friday 31 July was the last day of Dr Jerome Booth’s term as Chair of the Governing Body” and that he “had been a Governor of ARU for nine years, which is the maximum term of office that Governors are permitted to serve.”
Image credit: Mohammed Tawsif Salam/Wikimedia Commons CC BY–SA 3.0. Updated 06/08/2020: The number of signatories to the open letter was updated.