Biotech defies calls to sack McCullagh

BRITISH BIOTECH confirmed yesterday that it had no plans to sack Keith McCullagh, its chief executive, despite growing pressure to do so from some institutional shareholders.

The spokeswoman for the group said that it plans to rush out a circular to shareholders "as soon as possible" to counter allegations by Dr Andrew Millar, its former clinical research director who has attacked the way British Biotech has handled its drug development programme.

However British Biotech is not planning to unveil any management changes in the circular. Instead it will cover its approach to the research and development programme and include a year end cash balance.

However the group still appears to be on a collision course with some institutional shareholders who are unhappy with Mr McCullagh's present role.

British Biotech acknowledged yesterday that some of its directors could face legal action in the US from the Securities and Exchange Commission which has launched an investigation into allegations that press releases from the group painted an over-optimistic picture of the prospects for marimastat, a cancer treatment.