Professor is banned from blood centre

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The Independent Online
The first professor of transfusion medicine at Cambridge University has been banned from entering the blood-transfusion service building in the grounds of Addenbrooke's Hospital.

Professor Jean-Pierre Allain, who served a two-year prison sentence in France for distributing HIV-contaminated blood, has been forced instead to use an office in the university's haematology department a few hundred yards away.

Meetings between Professor Allain and staff from the blood-transfusion service have to be held in the nearby maternity hospital for fear of breaching the ban, believed to have been imposed by the Department of Health. A spokeswoman refused yesterday to comment on the ban except to say that the professor is not employed by the blood-transfusion centre.

Relations between the university and the Department of Health have become soured over Professor Allain's appointment. He was originally made director of the East Anglian Regional Blood Transfusion Service, with his salary paid for by the DoH.

However, since his conviction in France in 1992, the service has been reorganised and Professor Allain's National Health Service appointment has been withdrawn. As a result, the university has had to find the £37,000 salary for the professor of transfusion medicine.

Now it has become apparent that the university has been put in the embarrassing position of having a senior academic and professor banned from a health department building on the hospital site where the medical researcher is supposed to work.

Professor Allain yesterday refused to comment in detail on the ban. "My situation here is undefined. The subject is a bone of contention between the university and the transfusion service," he said.

A spokeswoman for the National Blood Authority, the new organisation responsible for the national transfusion service, said: "Professor Allain is working for the university so there is no reason for him to go into the transfusion service building."

Professor Allain was convicted by the French courts of distributing HIV- contaminated blood when he was head of research and development at the French national blood-transfusion service in 1985. He claimed that he was made a scapegoat and did not get a fair trial, arguing that he did all he could to warn his superiors of the risk to patients. The university continued to pay his salary throughout his time in prison.

Professor Allain, however, still faces the prospect of more serious charges, which can carry a much longer prison term.