Sacked UK drugs adviser sets up independent group

Fri Jan 15, 2010 12:09pm EST
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By Stefano Ambrogi

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Britain's former chief drugs adviser, sacked for his outspoken views last year, launched an independent drugs advisory body on Friday he said would seek to tell the "truth about drugs" free of political interference.

Home Secretary (interior minister) Alan Johnson removed Professor David Nutt in October after he argued that ecstasy, cannabis and LSD were less harmful than alcohol and tobacco.

The government said Nutt, head of the influential Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) at the time, had overstepped his role and undermined its message on the dangers of recreational drug use.

His sacking caused outrage across the scientific community and caused a string of resignations from the council.

Nutt said the new body, the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs already had 14 members, including himself, drawn from a broad church of academics.

"What this committee will do is provide you with the truth about drugs, unfettered by any political considerations," he told reporters at the Science Media Center in London.

"This is the strongest grouping of scientists (on drugs)...that we have ever had in this country. It is the first truly independent committee, and as we've already seen, we are extraordinarily impressive and we will grow and become even stronger."

He said four out five experts who resigned from the ACMD in protest at his dismissal were members of the new body. He said they had joined because they were horrified by the treatment of the scientific community.   Continued...