The Earnshaw/Burson Marsteller case escalates, as a formal complaint is issued against Earnshaw the parliamentary expert who was supposed to act impartially on his report on pharmaceutical issues while working the three other days of the week as a consultant for big pharmaceutical companies. (FT)
Even though I see the conflict of interest, Earnshaw is right when he says: "No one is 'independent': people work for businesses, NGOs, governments, political parties, etc. That is why it is important to be transparent...about credentials and experience. . . ultimately, politicians decide, not experts."
And this kind of conflict of interest leads people to think that employing academics are the answer, because somehow they are above it all. This is completely untrue; in the advocacy world of Brussels I have met academics who are more biased and divorced from reality than the organizations they are affiliated with.