Three more scientists resign from UK ACMD drugs advisory council

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

In the wake of the sacking of Professor David Nutt as chairman of the United Kingdom's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) by Home Secretary Alan Johnson and the subsequent resignations of Dr Les King and Marion Walter, three more scientists have now resigned. This follows a meeting on Monday between the Council and Alan Johnson, at which the Council sought reassurances that the integrity of the Council would not be compromised. Prior to the meeting, the Council sent a letter to Mr Johnson to the effect that a majority of its membership was deeply concerned about the circumstances relating to and surrounding Professor Nutt's dismissal: "For some members, these matters are of such seriousness as to raise the question whether they can, in good conscience, continue on the Council."

File photo of Alan Johnson, the politician at the centre of the row, taken in 2007
Image: catch21productions.

The scientists in question are the chemist, Dr Simon Campbell, a psychologist, Dr John Marsden and a pharmaceutical consultant, Ian Raglan.

Commenting on his resignation on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Dr Campbell said "I do not accept the reasons given for Professor Nutt's dismissal, I think that was a clash of personalities. I do not agree with the manner in which he was dismissed. Such an abrupt dismissal was a humiliation for such a respected scientist."

These resignations means that the ACMD is no longer constitutionally able to function and that six positions will need to be filled. There is a possibility that further resignations may occur as a number of the remaining members of the Council are reported to be unhappy with the prevailing situation, although many of those who do remain sit in the capacity of representatives of organisations with an interest.