Dr Palmer has a PhD in Mathematics from Birkbeck College, University of London, and has researched artificial intelligence and language translation at MIT. As a computer scientist he was involved in the development of the COMPACT clinical trials software for the Medical Research Council. He later worked for pharmaceutical company Novartis.
After losing his seat in the 2010 general election, Dr Palmer was appointed Director of International and Corporate Affairs at BUAV, the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection. On its website BUAV states "There is very little scientific evidence for the claims that animal tests have saved human lives. Indeed when scientists review the effectiveness of animal experiments over time, the results are damning." A brief review of the BUAV website finds no mention of the role of basic research. Writing on his blog in 2013, Dr Palmer said of a BUAV investigation "The location … and the names of those involved have all been removed, since the point is not to pester individuals but to show the deficiencies of the Home Office licensing and inspection system. Whatever one’s view of experiments on animals, it’s surely reasonable to ask that the system at least offers the limited protection that it is supposed to."
In May 2008 in the abortion amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (now Act), Nick Palmer voted for the abortion time limit to be lowered to 22 weeks against scientific and medical consensus which is currently 24 weeks. After four separate parliamentary votes on varying time limits, the majority of MPs voted to keep the abortion time limit at 24 weeks, in keeping with scientific and medical consensus, hence no abortion amendments were added to the bill.
Nick Palmer signed the February 2009 Early Day Motion 754: MMR Vaccine and the Media supporting the use of the MMR vaccine. The motion expressed disappointment with the reporting of the vaccine by Jeni Barnett on her LBC radio show in January 2009, and expressed the hope that future reporting of the issue of MMR would be less sensationalist and more evidence-based.
Nick Palmer was one of 79 MPs who signed Early Day Motion 377 noting the achievements of Charles Darwin, and calling for Darwin's birthday to be designated a public holiday to honour "one of the fathers of modern science and one of Britain's greatest, if not the greatest, scientific minds."
Libel Law Reform
In December 2009, Nick Palmer signed Early Day Motion 423 calling for a reform of the English libel law. The motion noted that human rights activists, scientists, writers and journalists are currently prevented from publishing, and the public prevented from reading, matters of strong public interest due to the chilling effect of the law.
The motion was tabled following the recent formation of Libel Reform Coalition, which has the backing of Index on Censorship, English PEN and Sense about Science. Sense about Science have been campaigning in defense of a member of its board of trustees, author and journalist Simon Singh, who has been sued for libel by the British Chiropractic Association. They issued a statement entitled "The law has no place in scientific disputes".
Responding to a constituent, Palmer wrote:
- "I’m a strong supporter of the organisation Sense About Science, and since they say the laws hinder scientific inquiry and challenge, I was very happy to back the EDM."
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