Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Johnson under fire as more advisers threaten to resign.

I've spoken before of the fire-storm which Alan Johnson's sacking of David Nutt has set off. And, four days in, it shows no sign of abating.

In a letter to Mr Johnson yesterday, the council said that while it had not been possible to contact all 28 remaining members – two resigned at the weekend – "it is clear that a majority of the council have serious concerns" about Professor Nutt's dismissal and the future of the council.

The letter said the case had "brought to the fore wider and pre-existing concerns among members about the role and treatment of the council". It added: "For some members these matters are of such seriousness as to raise the question whether they can, in good conscience, continue on the council. In this situation members wish for clarity and assurances about how the ministers view the council's advice and will view the council's advice in the future."
Johnson is promising to meet them, "shortly", in the hope that this will in some way stop the hemorrhaging currently taking place at the Government's scientific advisory council on illegal drugs, but it's clear that he has undermined the entire reason for the advisory council to exist at all.

If scientists can't speak freely without the risk of being fired - as happened to Nutt - then it's impossible to believe that the government want their opinion free from political considerations.

Listen to the reasoning Johnson gave for firing Nutt:
But he told MPs that he had "lost confidence in the professor's ability to be my principle adviser on drugs" because he had "acted in a way that undermined the Government rather than supporting its work".
It's not the job of a drugs adviser to support the government in it's work. His job is simply to give his honest advice, whether that coincides with what the government does or not.

Johnson is now hinting that Nutt was fired because he was not supporting Labour policy.

That's hardly going to give confidence to the rest of the advisory council.

Click here for full article.

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