Prof Nutt's new drugs group 'to rival' official panel
Five members of the Government's official drugs advisory panel are to join a new independent group set up by sacked drugs adviser, David Nutt.
Prof Nutt said the new group would be "very powerful" and would take over the role of the official Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD).
He said four of the five ex-ACMD members who resigned in protest at his sacking would also join the new body.
The Home Office said ACMD members were allowed to join another organisation.
BBC Home Affairs correspondent Danny Shaw said while it was theoretically possible for the drugs experts to be members of both groups, in practice it would make the framing of consistent drugs advice "rather tricky".
The new group - to be called the Independent Council on Drug Harms - is due to be launched at a meeting next week.
Prof Nutt said about 20 leading scientists and medical specialists had agreed to attend the meeting including a "significant bloc" of people from the ACMD.
He said: "We have a really very, very powerful grouping - more powerful than the ACMD in the past has ever managed to pull together."
Prof Nutt was sacked as ACMD chairman by the Home Secretary, Alan Johnson, last October for "lobbying" to change government policy on drugs.
Prof Nutt had publicly disagreed with the Government's decision to re-classify cannabis as a Class B drug and not to downgrade ecstasy.
Five ACMD members then resigned in the row that followed Prof Nutt's departure.
It has now emerged that two other ACMD members - Peter Martin and Dr Anita Nolan - have also stepped down, though the Home Office said their departures were unrelated to the Nutt affair.
Work 'slowed down'
The professor said the new body he was setting up would provide independent scientific evidence about the effects of drugs, and that its "goal" was to supplant what the ACMD was doing.
"I think in a way we will take over that particular role of the ACMD," said Prof Nutt.
"We're going to focus on the science and the ACMD can continue if it likes to deal with issues about treatment provision, about social policy etc."
The Home Office said that a new ACMD chairman will be announced in the next few weeks, but that it could take two to three months to fill vacancies left by the other resignations.
Our correspondent said the ACMD was crucial to government policy on drugs, because of the panel's statutory role on drugs policy.
A spokesman admitted that work on the ACMD had "slowed down" after Prof Nutt's sacking, and that a number of meetings had been postponed.
BBC News understands that little progress has been made on a crucial area of the ACMD's work - research into the harms of a new range of synthetic substances, including mephedrone.
The Home Office has said it is a "priority" to find out more about the dangers of the drug and that the ACMD would report back "early" in 2010.
But a working group, which was to have considered the evidence this month, has had to re-schedule its meeting, after the resignation of the chairman of the group, Dr Les King.
A Home Office spokesman said the ACMD's work was "still on course".