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Archive for November, 2009
I’ve just heard that three more ACMD members have resigned, after the Council met with Alan Johnson.
The latest resignations represent a deepening in the crisis of confidence of scientists in the Government – in particular, in the Home Secretary. That they come after Alan Johnson met the ACMD demonstrates that he just doesn’t get it when it comes to the importance of respecting the academic freedom and integrity of independent, unpaid, science advisers.
Ministers are entitled to their own opinions, but not to their own facts. The cost of the failure of the Home Secretary to understand the lessons of the BSE Inquiry will be poor policy – unless the Prime Minister acts decisively to bring the Home Office and rest of Government into line with established good practice.
By clumsily and unfairly sacking David Nutt, Alan Johnson has been rewarded with five resignations in protest. That takes a certain kind of ineptitude.
The Home Secretary has now responded to my letter. It is set out below, interwoven with my original letter, and accompanied by comments from me, after consultation with Professor Nutt and Richard Garside (of CCJS at King’s College)
Following the sacking of Professor David Nutt by the Home Secretary, Chris Huhne (Lib Dem Shadow Home Secretary) and I, who both opposed the sacking, tabled an urgent question in the House to the Home Secretary. Mysteriously (since he agrees with the Home Secretary) the urgent question was awarded to Chris Grayling the Tory Shadow minister. Nevertheless the resultant statement and Q & A is instructive as to the level of scientific and rational debate in Parliament.
I was amazed to hear what the Home Secretary said, under privilege, in parliament about a distinguished scientist and sent Alan Johnson the letter below demanding a retraction and apology.
I will post the reply I get when it comes in.