Research appeal concerns charity

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A FUNDRAISING appeal for schizophrenia research chaired by a former policy adviser of Baroness Thatcher will be launched today amid concern it could jeopardise plans for a research centre into the illness, which affects some 250,000 people in Britain, writes Helen Nowicka.

The Schizophrenia Research Appeal is chaired by Sir Charles Powell, private secretary to the former Prime Minister, and Lady Thatcher is on its committee. The charity is the initiative of Robin Singer, director of Jardine Insurance Brokers and chairman of Invicta Leisure, whose 26-year-old daughter is severely schizophrenic.

The launch has concerned the mental health charity Sane, which is trying to raise pounds 3.5m to found a schizophrenia research centre with Oxford University and the city's Warneford Hospital. So far pounds 2.5m has been pledged of which more than half is conditional on Sane raising the outstanding pounds 1m by the end of the year. If it fails, Sane will forfeit another pounds 1.2m promised by the Medical Research Council and gifts from the university.

Yesterday Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of Sane, said the new appeal threatened the research centre. 'If we fail to raise our last pounds 1m because of the timing of their appeal then the pounds 4m we have been working towards for the last two years will be lost.'

But Mr Singer denied there would be any conflict between the two charities. 'We are very pro-Sane, as far as I am concerned we are complementary,' he said.