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Huw Edwards slams Times for comments about eminent chemist’s use of the Welsh language

05 Dec 2020 2 minute read
Huw Edwards picture by Brian Minkoff-London Pixels (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Huw Edwards has slammed the Times newspaper for claims about the use of Welsh by the world-renowned chemist Professor John Meurig Thomas.

In the paper’s lives remembered section it is claimed by physicist Professor Michael Pepper, that Professor Thomas, who died aged 87, only wrote in Welsh during committee meetings to prevent people from “eavesdropping” on his notes.

In the paper Professor Pepper says: “Sir John Meurig Thomas (obituary November 20) was a proud Welshman and fluent in the Welsh language.

“However, this knowledge was not just of cultural significance as he put it to practical use in numerous committees which he chaired.

“He prevented those on either side eavesdropping on his notes and comments by writing them in Welsh.”

Veteran BBC broadcaster, Huw Edwards, took exception to these comments about Professor Thomas.

He said: “Yes, we use our native language in our daily lives simply to thwart others.”



The work of Professor Thomas, who is from Llanelli, won him several awards, including a Royal Medal, known as the Queen’s Medal, in 2016, for his work within catalytic chemistry. He was knighted “for services to chemistry and the popularisation of science” in 1991.

He was professor and head of the department of physical chemistry at Cambridge University from 1978 to 1986, before being appointed director of the Royal Institution in 1986.

Huw Edwards paid tribute to Professor Thomas on November 13, shortly after the news emerged that he has passed away.

He said: “One of Britain’s most eminent scientists, Sir John Meurig Thomas FRS, has died at 87. A pioneer of solid-state chemistry and recipient of many awards and honours worldwide. Former Master of Peterhouse, Cambridge, and Director of the Royal Institution. And a Welshman to the core.”

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