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Call for probe into NIMR claims

Minister urged to investigate claims that MRC chief coerced staff over relocation plans

Pat Hagan(pat.hagan@btconnect.com)

Britain's Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has been asked to investigate claims that Medical Research Council (MRC) Chief Executive Colin Blakemore threatened to sack a senior scientist at the National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), unless he agreed to a plan to relocate the institute.

Patricia Hewitt, a member of Prime Minister Tony Blair's cabinet, has been urged to conduct an inquiry after the accusation surfaced at a meeting last week of the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee.

Labour Member of Parliament (MP) Andrew Dismore, whose constituency of Hendon covers the current NIMR site at Mill Hill in north London, called for the inquiry because of the serious nature of the allegations.

Earlier this week, Dismore formally requested that Hewitt investigate whether Blakemore was guilty of "improper coercion" in an attempt to push through the MRC's plans for the NIMR. Hewitt has told the MP...

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