back to article Nutt sacking row deepens

The row over the sacking of Professor David Nutt is deepening, with a bevy of boffins calling for scientific government advisers to be treated with respect and allowed to speak as they see fit. The group of former and current advisers has sent the "Statement of Principles for the Treatment of Independent Scientific Advice" to …


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  1. The Original Ash

    Mandy replies...

    "I find your lack of faith disturbing..."

  2. H 4

    Nutt sacking


  3. alain williams Silver badge

    Honesty in government decisions

    is what they are asking for -- that would be novel; highly desirable but novel.

  4. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Politicians ...... Proven Demonstrably Unfit for Leading Purpose*

    Hear, hear. I second that motion. And have echoed it in thoughts belonging to us here .... ?

    * SMEs in nothing but Waffle and Prevarication/Black is White Nonsense .... and in a Age of Increasing Immediate Virtual Intelligence and Instant Communication, ever more Irrelevant and Excess to General and Specific Requirements.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Nutt sacking

    LOL - genius. That is all.

  6. Anonymous Coward


    I hope this story runs and runs and runs and runs; well, at least longer than the expenses 'story' which was perpetuated by the right wing media.

    Anyway, in my view the arbitrary prohibition of some drugs and associated misinformation about drugs that is peddled along side it is the single biggest issue in this country at the moment - resulting in untold health problems for millions of adults from those who stupidly believe alcohol is 'not really a drug' or those addicts who, by way of circumstance (partly down to prohibition), are locked in a cycle of addiction to 'harder' drugs with unknown ingredients - left to fund their habit through criminality. Add to the mix the millions who take 'pills' every weekend, betrayed by successive governments who happily allow criminal elements to control the dosages and makeup of their drug of choice, and profit hugely from it to boot.

    The disgrace that is prohibition and the mismanagement/enforcement of the Misuse of Drugs act is rotting our society to the core; it is this very act that gives 'mixed messages' to young people. This is a primarily a health issue NOT a criminal justice issue. It should be out of the hands of the Home Office.

    There is a disaster waiting to happen here, and it doesn't look like it will change anytime soon.. I can only hope that people will actually vote for the 'third party' rather than offering up the usual 'what's the point coz they won't get in'.

  7. Scott 19

    And there it is

    Right at the end, just had to get it in there didn't you, has the form for re-claiming for a new keyboard been post on the site yet?

    And according to my dad (who happens to be harder than yours ;) he says these scientist are as bad as the Nazis scientists from WW2, we'll thats what the Daily Fail told him in an article this week said.

    Politicians making lawyers look good since 2008.

  8. Eddie Edwards
    Thumb Down

    Alan Johnson started the row?

    There I was thinking Nutt started it, and the media carried it on.

    You've managed to wind the other scientific advisors up pretty well too.

  9. kosmos

    I love the smell of letters at dawn...

    Ahh I can imagine the written response already... Permit me to take a liberty or five.....

    Dear members of the committee,

    I endeavour to report to you the facts of the matter that you are seeking resolution too. I can assure the committee that the government has in no way adjusted or alterred its continuing support of independent technical and scientific advice.

    We treat with the same level of respect all parties who submit advice to us on any matter in the public view. I find Professor Nutt's resignation to be both un-expected and un-helpful, but wish to assure the committee that the very important lessons are being learned, as we seek to improve synnergies between advice and policy. Besides how can we in governemnt take the word of one Nutt over another nut?

    Warmest Regards,

    [Insert usual scan of my signature here please]

    Alan Johnson.

    Home Secretary.

  10. Daniel 1

    I'm all for scientific freedom

    However, any campaign for scientific freedom should not be figureheaded by a grandstanding idiot-with-an-agenda like Nutt.

    You see these sorts of people in all areas of "science" - especially in fields such as environmentalism, anti-terrorism, weapons-procurement and (as in this case) health care. Need a sound bite? Yeah, all the fish will be gone by 2048 (at about a quarter past three in the afternoon, sometime in mid-March). Need a statistic? Yeah, it's much safer to inhale the fumes of this black, slimy, coagulated crap, than it is to inhale the fumes of that slimy black crap, because the people who die of cancer, smoking the former black slimy crap, don't own up to it, because it's illegal.

    They parasite off the scientific community by adopting the trappings of "science", but they just push statistics (largely because they have lost sight of the difference between statistics and data). Even when people like him are right, they are right for all the wrong reasons, and I will not care to see him to hijack the debate about scientific freedom.

    He's not a scientist: he's just a very naughty boy!

  11. Pete 2 Silver badge

    A little transparency would be nice

    We've all been there: recommended something to the boss, only to find out that our advice has been rejected, distorted, misunderstood, selectively edited or just plain ignored. Now, putting aside the dented egos it would always be helpful (to provide "better" advice in the future) if the reasoning behind the decision was made known. In this particular case it would be very illuminating to find out what other advice this politician had taken that turned out to be more powerful than an objective, scientific review of the facts.

    Instinct tells me that science-based evidence comes some way down the list of factors, definitely well past cost and much lower than consideration of what the tabloid owners might print.

  12. breakfast
    Thumb Up

    Full on scandal

    I'm hoping this develops into a fullblown scandal so the world can refer to it in future as "Nuttsackgate."

  13. Steven Jones

    How we got here

    This one is a perfect illustration of how the independence of British institutions has been compromised over the past 15 or more years. Reading Peter Oborne's "The Triumph of the Political Class". There he makes an extremely strong case that the current generation of politicians are having increasing difficulty separating party political interests from those of the various instruments of state such as the Civil Service, Secret Services, Law and so on.

    In essence, rather than a robust degree of independence that acts as a check on the executive, these bodies are seen as a mere extension to party politics. Whilst there are some issues of accountability for these institutions, they did at least, in principle have their own sense of who they had a duty to. With the modern political class, dissent among these state instruments is simply seen as unacceptable. Hence the hugely increased numbers of political advisers dumped into the civil service ruling over those institutions, the use of political patronage to control various quangos, the seeding of so-called independent inquiries with those who can be trusted to have the appropriate views.

    Not a pretty picture. It's worth noting that a previous head od the civil service had specifically lobbied for a bill guaranteeing the independence of the civil service. Critical issues such as the career path, promotion, structure and internal operations of the civil service would be explicitly made independent of ministers (which is the convention, but increasingly undermined by political pressure). Unfortunately, the gorvernment of the time ruled this out.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    "Nutt Sacking"

    Made my morning - thank you.

  15. Joel Mansford

    It's only reasonable and polite

    That you don't ask someone to write you a report at their own cost and in their own time that you have absolutely no intention of taking any notice of.

    If they want advice in private and that they can ignore without ramifications then they should pay for it. If they pay for it then the scientists etc have no right to speak out in public should it be ignored as they've been adequately compensated for their time and they're not doing it as a service to the pubilc.

    Just another example of weasel politicians IMO.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Daniel 1

    Nutt may have an agenda, yes - to break the moralistic, misinformed, downright dangerous misinformation about drugs and their relative effects on health.

    A far better agenda I would suggest than yours which is to seemingly argue against any evidence whatsoever (?!) and dismiss science out of hand. Hopefully, when you are next ill, you will turn down the drugs you are offered on the basis that their efficacy is based purely on "the trappings of science".

    Idiot of the highest order.

  17. Richard 81

    Thanks Scott 19

    That article is going to give me a rage induced aneurysm.

  18. Toastan Buttar
    Thumb Up

    Nutt Sacking

    The new form of 'Tea-Bagging' ?

    Marvelous neologism !

  19. The BigYin


    Look, there are only three types of epople Labour will treat with respect

    1) Big business with loads of money and a bribe/directorship in the offing

    2) A foreign power (e.g. EU) with loads of money and a bribe/consultancy in the offing

    3) Another Labour MP

    That's it. Not scientists, not the general public. No one. Show them the money!

    Pretty much the same holds true for the Tories.

    Scum the lot of them, without exception.

  20. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    @ I love the smell of letters at dawn...

    Quality finishing line :-)

    I just enjoy the Streisand effect in full operation..

  21. bexley

    @Joel Mansford

    Joel, This isnt a matter of you get what you pay for.

    this is a fundamental issue of right and wrong. Our government, our servants are creating laws that have no moral or fact based value. They are creating laws based on their own opinions. they are not qualified to do this.

    The minister for drug (i cant remember the exact title) has decleared that he has never even smoked a joint. Lot's of other ministers have come forward to say that smoked a few joints in their youth etc...

    our home secretary and the drugs minister have not even had a smoke before so how can they feel qualified to create laws against it.

    i have a friend who smokes weed - he smokes it regardless of the legal status. While attempting to procure said drugs from a street vendor (a criminal) he ended up with a black eye. he then proceeded to purchase some of the legal Spice which has not been researched and may have serious health implications.

    so he

    a) got beaten up by a criminal

    b) the criminal is only in business due to the government's childish attitude to drugs and probably would be in a different line of work if things were different

    c) ended up smoking god knows what manufactured in asia to avoid the criminal elements and thus perhaps putting his health at more risk than it might have been.

    one could perhaps try to justify the government's attitude to drug prohibition if it was more joined up. how can we accept their views when they continue to treat alcohol and tobacco separately?

    i'm not advocating that we ban fags and booze,i just dont trust anyone that tell's me that it's totally fine to use these drugs as long as you have a responsible attitude - but smoke some weed and we'll lock you up and call you a criminal.

    It is true that there is a nasty criminal element involved in drug distribution. The war on drugs has failed, the public at large are still taking drugs. To remove the criminal element then the sensible and right thing to do is to take control of the drugs industry, license and regulate, paid for by the tax revenue generated by their cosumption.

    really, i am so tired of being told what i can and cannot do by politicians, i dont listen to idiot's at work, on my way to work, or at any other area in my life. Why should i listen to these idiots?

    i'm fed up with doing the wrong thing.

  22. dave 151

    @Eddie Edwards

    "There I was thinking Nutt started it, and the media carried it on."

    Not as clear cut as that I'm afraid. This is just the latest round in a long running spat.

    The Gov's drug classification system was loudly proclaimed to be based on scientific evidence of harm. Trouble is the evidence stubbornly refuses to support the policies the Gov feels it needs to have so as to hold onto the votes of the middle classes. Rather than quietly redefine the basis of the policy, say to reflect "social issues", Alan and Jaquie decided to ignore the evidence presented by the experts in the field.

    Nutt et al were just doing the job asked of them. Academics and scientists are very possessive of their work so to see their advice publicly ignored is a real kick in the gob. Hence the present state of affairs.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    The real solution

    As the real problem with the planet and its climate is too many people, repeal the Act, let them get as much as they want legally, tax it.

    I mean if people want to kill themselves why should we try to stop them or give them health care when they fail, just let them get on with it.

    RESULT no crime, loads of tax, reduction in population

    Win - Win - Win

  24. codemonkey

    What year is this?

    Is this really 2009? Why are we still asking, like children, to be taken seriously? Surely it is obvious that the gov don’t give a damn about humans, and are only focused on their focus groups and their profit margings?

    So we go back to the “ruler” and ask them to be more “pro-human”, and we expect them to say what?

    How many times do you have to ask the oppressor or challenge their ways before you realise that “doing it yourself” is going to be a lot easier in the short and long term. The other way, you just get yourself arrested.

    Get a grip. Do this our way :)


  25. Anonymous Coward


    > our home secretary and the drugs minister have not even had a smoke before so how can they feel qualified to create laws against it.

    I haven't murdered someone before but I still feel qualified to say there should be a law against it.

    Don't get me wrong - making decisions based on prejudice rather than scientific research is silly. But so is the idea that if you haven't personally tried something you can't say it's bad.

  26. Graham Bartlett



    If my boss asks me for my professional opinion, I tell him, and he says "OK everyone, Graham says this but because of other factors we're doing it my way", that's his choice.

    But if my boss asks me for my professional opinion, I tell him, and he says "OK everyone, Graham says we should do it my way", I'd be righteously annoyed. I'd be especially annoyed if I'd put a large chunk of my own time into doing it.

    The problem isn't that Johnson ignored his scientific advisors - that's his choice. The problem is that Johnson said his policy would be based on what his scientific advisors said, when actually it wasn't - and further to that, that he's pissed on (and hence pissed off) advisors who were doing the job for nothing because they believed they'd be helping the country by doing so.

  27. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Up

    @Scott 19

    Thanks for the article from the Daily Fail, I needed a laugh.

    I was going to post a comment on their pages about it, but then I got to the bit where they started referring to the Nazis and Godwin's Law was automatically invoked, saving me the time.

  28. Anonymous Coward

    Scientists vs Government

    Gov: Get a few scientists on board to lend credibility

    Scientist: Cool, i'll get published guaranteed !

    Gov: Shut up scientist and parrot the party line

    Scientist (naive!): But i thought i would be listened to and appreciated

    Gov: Piss off your 'aving a laugh, repeat after me

    Scientist: But if i say that all the non bought and paid for scientists will laugh at me and call me names

    Gov: Shut up and repeat after me or we slag u off in the press cos u a wrong un!.

    Scientists repeat experiments to prove it wasn't random, undergo blind trials and are mostly peer reviewed before they (mostly) want to put there name to it. Later everyone knows it was there bloody stupid idea.

    Goverments think up a crackpot idea implement it and wait to see if we will still vote for them or not, if not they try to blame it on someone else.

  29. Anonymous Coward

    @By Scott 19

    Another staggeringly quality article written by the Daily Mewel. :-0

    This whole case smacks to much of how much more mud can I sling at you than you me. They should bloody well grow up. We rely on these 'tards to run the country and give wise council - both sorely lacking here.

  30. The elephant in the room


    We must strive to see that this becomes the generally used term for firing someone who voices an opinion different to that of the establishment!

  31. bexley

    Anonymous Coward Posted Friday 6th November 2009 13:25 GMT

    yes i see your point, i guess i was trying to express my opinion that simply being a politician does not necessarily qualify one to make such decisions.

    this is the reason that we have independent advisory bodies staffed by people who are qualified and do have a better grasp of the issue at hand.

    i'll restate my comment

    without having the proper prior knowledge accrued by proper and appropriate experience, research and listening to the advice of those at the top of the field then i do not trust what these people are saying, nor do i respect it.

    it just beggars belief that these people are in a position to make such decisions that affect us all without having to slightest appreciation of the consequences of their actions.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    the headline made me choke on me ham butty, cheers!

  33. Andy Bright

    I watch this with interest..

    The screams, the cries and the anger. Yet for some reason come election season the same yokels are voted back in.

    My decision on whom to vote for is made from the following conclusions.

    If the current government was in any way competent, explain the economy, housing crisis, ID cards, DNA databases, complicity with US rendition, Iraq in general, a surveillance society, thought crimes and the creation of legislation based on "I had a good idea while walking the dog."

    If the opposition was in any way competent explain why I should trust them above a European government when they will certainly refuse to repeal or oppose any of the above.

    So that leaves me with the choice of voting for someone, anyone, that doesn't currently hold office.

    I know they can do a better job, have adequate experience and so forth because quite literally an infant school toddler would be more trustworthy and competent than any incumbent MP.

    The mentally ill could do a better job than a party whose solution to all these issues is to "I'm going to cancel Europe.. wibble.. drool.. buurrrp".

    Way to consign British business to irrelevancy on the world stage Tories, as well as removing the only checks and balances the British have on Parliament.

    Well having said all that you can still consider yourselves fortunate. I moved to a country that voted George W. Bush President.. twice... not to mention the hundreds of congressmen that willingly admit they don't believe in evolution. Quite literally they'll say that out loud on TV.. it definitely puts paid to the notion that the BBC produces the best comedy in the world.

  34. Anonymous Coward

    Well played

    Nutt sacking lol

  35. gfs

    Nutt Sacking

    The Nutt sack issue is clearly a hairy one for the government to handle. Handled incautiously this matter will inflate to a size out of all proportion to the original issue, and may well explode in someones face.

  36. Tonto Popaduopolos

    @ gfs

    This whole 'nuttsacking' thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

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