Government's Chief Drug Adviser Sacked
The Government's chief drug adviser has been sacked after claiming ecstasy and LSD are less dangerous than alcohol.
Professor David Nutt, chairman of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, had also attacked the decision to make cannabis a class B drug.
It is understood Home Secretary Alan Johnson asked him to consider his position in the wake of the comments, saying he had "no confidence" in him.
However, Prof Nutt told Sky News: "I think 'asked to resign' is a euphemism for being sacked."
He said he was disappointed at the Government's move, blaming "unusual political times" and declaring it a "bad day for science".
"Politics is politics and science is science and there's a bit of tension between them sometimes," he explained.
Prof Nutt had sparked the controversy earlier this week by attacking what he called the "artificial" separation of alcohol and tobacco from other, illegal, drugs.
He also repeated his claim that the risks of taking ecstasy are no worse than riding a horse.
He has, however, made similar comments several times before.
And he told Sky News that the Home Secretary reaction on this occasion had been politically motivated.
He also stood by his views, accusing the Government of misleading the public over drugs.
"As a parent ... my children are much more likely to die or be seriously injured from alcohol than any of those other drugs," he told Sky.
The greatest concern for parents, he continued, should be ensuring that their children do not "completely off their heads" with alcohol.
"My view is that if you want to reduce the harm to society from drugs, alcohol is the drug to target at present," he concluded.
Shadow home secretary Chris Grayling said: "This was an inevitable decision after his latest ill-judged contribution to the debate but it is a sign of lack of focus at the Home Office that it didn't act sooner given that he has done this before."
However, Prof Colin Blakemore, former chief executive of the Medical Research Council, expressed concerns with the decision.
"The Government cannot expect the experts who serve on its independent committees not to voice their concern if the advice they give is rejected even before it is published," he said.
"I worry that the dismissal of Prof Nutt will discourage academic and clinical experts from offering their knowledge and time to help the Government in the future."
From Sky News
10:11pm UK, Friday October 30, 2009
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