Johnson has 'no regrets' over sacked drugs adviser

Alan Johnson remains unrepentant over the controversial sacking of his chief adviser on drugs and is surprised about the outcry from scientists over the decision.

When he meets the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs tomorrow, the Home Secretary will try to persuade it that it has a vital role to play and appeal to other members not to join the two who have already resigned in protest at the dismissal of its chairman, Professor David Nutt. Mr Johnson accused him of campaigning against the Government's decision to upgrade cannabis to a Class B drug.

Mr Johnson said the scientific community should realise that the sacking was an isolated case about "one chairman of one advisory group". He was surprised that scientists "could take that and correlate it into feeling we have let down the scientific community".

There is tension between the Home Secretary and the Science minister Lord Drayson, who is furious about Professor Nutt's dismissal and has welcomed a draft code proposed by 28 senior scientists saying ministers should be denied the power to sack advisers who publicly disagree with government policy.

Mr Johnson is cautious about rushing into a new agreement because of the row. "I would not want to see any change in the excellent relationship with 70 different committees through which we work with the scientific community driven by the perception we need a complete overhaul because of what happened with one individual on one advisory body," he said.

Mr Johnson added: "I don't regret the decision at all. I believe what we have seen in the debate since the decision is a question mark over whether scientists should be engaged in political decisions.

"If you take decisions on categorisation of drugs, there are social, ethical all kinds of other dimensions to it, as well as the scientific dimension.

"There is a very healthy debate to be had here. If the scientific community believes that what happened to Professor Nutt was in any way indicative of the Government not respecting scientific advice, we will seek to reassure them that is not the case. No government has done more for the scientific community than this Government."

The Home Secretary stressed that ministers had accepted the vast majority of the advisory council's recommendations. "We have the highest respect for it. I respect Professor Nutt and his views. I just felt he could not get to the point where most scientists get to – they put in recommendations, the Government makes decisions and then they move on, not returning to a bone and gnawing away at it. If that happens, the relationship is not going to work. That is why my decision is the right decision."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: .NET Developer / Web Developer

£35-45K (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a .NET Developer / Web ...

Recruitment Genius: Commercial Manager - Plasma Processing

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Commercial Manager is required to join a lea...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Property Manager

£18000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you looking for your first ...

Recruitment Genius: .NET Web / Software Developer - ASP.NET

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Small and agile digital marketi...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders