The United Kingdom Centre for Medical Research and Innovation

Camden’s response to my notification of planning permission irregularities | January 7, 2011

 on   Friday, 7 January, 2011, 14:29 (Councillor) <> wrote 
Dear Mr. Henderson
Thank you for your emails dated the 17th and 19th December regarding your concerns with the procedures surrounding the UKCMRI planning application which was heard at the Development Control Committee on 16th December 2010. I have looked into this matter and now am in a position to respond to the issues you raise.

Inclusion of Objections in the Committee Report

The committee report summarises all the issues raised by yourself and 36 other neighbouring occupiers at the site at paragraph 4.41, you can access the report at: .

You should find that all your comments are covered by the points listed albeit condensed into bullet form and generically with other peoples’ comments. The individual identity of those objecting or supporting the application was not given in the report; only groups and organisations were named.

Recording of individual votes of Councillors

It is not a requirement at committee meetings to record the individual votes of Councillors unless immediately after the vote is taken,  any two voting members request the vote to be officially recorded in the committee minutes. I can confirm that a recorded vote was not requested at the meeting of the Development Control Committee on 16th December and therefore information on who voted for, against or abstained was not officially noted in the Committee minutes. The relevant extract of the Council’s Constitution relating to this can be found in Part 4, section D.15 (page of 161) and I have attached a copy for your reference.

I understand that you have also written to the members of the planning committee asking them to confirm how they voted. As set out above they are not compelled to reveal how they voted although I believe some have responded. 

Challenging the Planning Decision

If you wish to challenge any planning decision on the grounds of Irregularity, you should follow the correct Judicial Review procedure. For this, a claim form must be filed promptly with the courts and in any event not later than 3 months after the grounds to make the claim first arose. This 3 month time limit for lodging a judicial review application will therefore run from the date of the grant of planning permission. This does not rule out the bringing of a challenge at an earlier stage if the court in its discretion considers that a useful purpose would be served by such a challenge. As the application has been referred to the Mayor of London for a final decision the 3 month time limit will run from the Mayor’s decision and not the committee resolution. However, as stated above, this may not preclude you from filing an application at an earlier stage as the court may still entertain it.

If you would like further advice on these legal matters, please do not hesitate to contact Camden ’s Principal Planning Lawyer, Aidan Brookes, by post at:

Legal Services

Camden Town Hall

Judd Street



Thank you again for raising your concerns and hopefully I have provided further clarification to you on this matter.

Yours sincerely

Cllr Nasim Ali OBE

Leader of Camden Council

  Cc: to all Camden Councillors


 Cllr Nasim Ali OBE

Leader of Camden Council

CC To all Camden Councillors

7 January 2011

Dear Mr Ali,

Challenge to the UKCMRI planning permission

Thank for your email which I received today. I have looked at the report at . It contains  the same information as given in the Public Document Pack for the Development Control  Committee Meeting of 16 December – this  was the document upon which  I based my challenge to the planning permission..  

As I told you in my previous emails, there is NO  mention at all in the  report of  my complaint that Gordon Brown  illicitly interfered with the bidding process for the site  or of the facts that (1)  the MRC have a level 4 licence for their Mill Hill site; (2) that  the Mill Hill site will be sold  when the Bill Place laboratory is built and (3) UKCMRI have confirmed that the Mill Hill work will be transferred to the Brill Place Laboratory. If you read paras   4.1 to 4.49 of the report you referred me to  you will find that this is the case.  Nor was any mention made orally to the two issues  during the Development Control Committee meeting.

I can only presume that neither you nor your staff has  bothered to  read either the relevant parts of my objection to the planning application or Camden’s own information.  You rather give the game away when you  write “You should find that all your comments are covered by the points listed albeit condensed into bullet form and generically with other peoples’ comments.”  You do not write “should” when you know something can be found for certain.

If you still want to maintain that my complaints about Gordon Brown and biohazard levels are covered by the report, send me the paragraph references in the report which you say mention those complaints.  If you are unable to do this,  please write to me and (1)  admit that the information was withheld from the Development Control Committee; (2) explain why it was withheld and  (3)  explain  what action you have taken or will take against those who  censored the information.  

If you cannot demonstrate that the information is in the report, the granting of  the planning permission is clearly irregular.  It is even conceivable that a criminal offence has been committed by excluding objections  which would be very  politically embarrassing. There would be  a crying  need for the planning application to be heard again. To suggest that a judicial review is the way forward is disingenuous,  because  you must be aware that a council tenant is not going to have the funds to mount such an action which could easily swallow up £40,000 per day in court in costs to both sides. What is required is action at the council level to re-hear the planning application.

I find the failure to routinely record individual councillors votes profoundly anti-democratic. Please explain to me how electors can hold councillors to account if such votes are not recorded,.

Yours sincerely,



Robert Henderson 


From: McGuinness, Andy
Subject: RE: UKCMRI – challenge to the granting of planning permission continued
Date: Monday, 10 January, 2011, 17:19

Dear Mr Henderson,

Cllr Ali has asked me to thank you again for your email to him and to say that he will be responding to the three points that you raise in your email in due course.
Kind regards
Andy McGuinness
PA to Leader & Deputy Leader of the Council

Telephone: 020 7974 5707


11.January 2011  

Andy McGuinness
PA to Leader & Deputy Leader of the Council

Telephone: 020 7974 5707

CC all Camden councillors
Dear Mr McGuinness,
Thank you for your email. Please ensure that I do not get another nonsense reply. 
The question of whether the issues of Gordon Brown’s illicit interference in the bidding process and the information relating to the biohazard levels contained in my objection to the planning application are or are not in the report prepared for the Development Control Committee is not a matter of opinion but a matter of fact.  Neither is in the report.   All you need to confirm this is read paras 4.1-4.49.  I suggest you do this and then report their absence to Cllr Ali.
Cllr Ali should be able to send a reply very rapidly because little  effort is required to discover the truth. It is shameful that my previous  emails did not cause anyone within the Council to actually read the report to see that what I was saying was the simple truth.
Yours sincerely.
Robert Henderson


Dear Mr Henderson,

Thank you for your email of the 7th January which was in response to my emailed reply to your earlier enquiries (17th and 19th December) regarding your concerns about the Council’s consideration of the UKCMRI planning application.

As I understand it the points that you raise fall into 2 principle parts and that you are concerned that there was no mention in the committee report or at the Development Control Committee meeting of these which are as follows:

1)       that Gordon Brown had illicitly interfered in the government’s bidding process for the Brill Place site to the UKCMRI’s advantage

2)       that the MRC will carry on their current level 4 licensed activities at Brill Place once they have sold their site and the UKCMRI laboratory is built.

In my previous email response to you, I had explained that your comments had been summarised generically in the planning report with the comments received from other objectors being condensed into bullet form. On enquiring with the planning case officer for the application, I understand that you had gone to the trouble of setting your comments out at some length and he assures me that your comments were indeed fully read. However, I am assured that the points you made were still substantially the same as those made by several others who had written in and could thus be satisfactorily summarised in a generic fashion. Indeed to have given special attention to your comments in the manner of the named groups and organisations listed in the report, would have been unfair to the 140 or so other individual objectors like yourself.

Accordingly your points have been covered under paragraph 4.41 of the report. Your concerns under part (1) above would fall under the subheading ‘use of public funds’ namely –“unfair bidding procedure/sale of site –giving preference to the UKCMRI”; and your concerns under part (2) under the ‘use related’ subheading being to do with the risk of outbreaks/leakage of viruses or other pathogens to the area that might arise from the types of research being carried out. These are clearly stated under paragraph 4.41.

 Whilst the summary of the objections does not expressly include your point about the existing level 4 license at the MRC’s Mill Hill site, paragraph 4.46 of the report responds in detail to concerns from objectors generally about biohazard containment issues. This conveys the applicant’s stated intention that the work to be dealt with at the Brill Place site would be categorised within Groups 1-3 out of the 4 standard biological hazard levels. There is no suggestion in the application that all the work currently undertaken at Mill Hill will go on to be undertaken by the UKCMRI and in any case as explained under paragraph 4.46 the containment categories are strictly controlled by the Government which would never be likely to allow any higher (level 4) category research at Brill Place.

With regard to the bidding process for the site and any involvement by Gordon Brown personally, there is no further mention in the report as this is in no way relevant to the planning issues to be considered by the Development Control Committee. However the mention in para 4.41 makes the Committee sufficiently aware of the concerns aired in this respect so that it could have enquired further about these if they wished.

Finally, I note your dissatisfaction with the absence of a recorded vote in this matter, however as already explained in my previous email to you the procedure taken at the Committee was fully in accordance with the Council’s Constitution. This is the document which sets out in full how the Council and its constituent Members are accountable to its electorate.

 I trust that the above now provides sufficient clarity as to how the consideration of the application has taken account of your concerns. I thank you again for raising these issues with me.

Yours sincerely

Cllr Nasim Ali OBE

Leader of Camden Council


24 1 2011

Cllr Nasim Ali OBE

Leader of Camden Council

Cc All Camden Councillors

Dear Mr Ali,

I note that unlike your previous email to me you have not copied it to councillors. That suggests to me you are somewhat embarrassed  by your response this time around. 

Do you honestly wish to claim that  a meaningful judgement on the fairness or otherwise of the bidding process could be made by the Development Control Committee  on the basis of this: “ Unfair bidding procedure/sale of site –giving preference to UKCMRI”?   The only way that councillors could make a meaningful judgement is to have the facts of Brown’s involvement put before them.

As for your claim that Gordon Brown’s involvement  was not a concern of the committee,  this is contradicted by the inclusion of “Unfair bidding procedure/sale of site –giving preference to UKCMRI” in the report. .  If it was not relevant why did was the objection included in the list of objections?  If it is relevant then how can Gordon Brown’s prejudicial involvement not be relevant?  If you wish to maintain his involvement was not prejudicial please explain to me how it could not be.  

If there is a question mark over the legality of the sale,  and there is prima facie evidence there is because of Brown’s involvement,  ownership of the site is not decided and consequently planning permission cannot not be legally granted because no valid planning application has been submitted for consideration.  If building was to go ahead and a challenge to the legality of the sale was successfully made, Camden could find itself being sued for very substantial damages for granting planning permission for which there is no legal basis.

You claim that all the objections  I made were submitted by others. I would doubt this very much,  because I am the person who obtained the FOIA material on Gordon Brown’s involvement  and it is improbable that  anyone else has obtained this material. I also doubt whether anyone has attacked the security matter to  the depth  I attacked it, including extracting a string of embarrassingly evasive replies from UKCMRI (these were in the appendix to my objection).  I want you to prove that my complaints against Brown  and security were made by other people.

As for the specific question of level 4 viruses, you admit this was not dealt with. Para 4.46  deals with something described as  “containment level 3+”.  I have been unable to track down any official reference to this term.  The suspicion must be that this is Level 4 material in disguise. Moreover, as the MRC site at Mill Hill has a level 4 licence and all their work is to be transferred to Brill Place if the centre is built,  it is a stretch too far to assume they will not transfer level 4 work there unless there is a legal bar to them doing so. There is no  such bar.

It is clear you have not read my objection yourself. I suggest you do so. That will show you how much has been missed.  

I await your reply with interest.

Yours sincerely,


Robert Henderson


  1. Brilliant blog!

    Comment by worried Camden resident — January 7, 2011 @ 7:45 pm

    • Thanks. Spread the word about the dangers of this project as widely as possible.

      Comment by Robert Henderson — January 12, 2011 @ 6:07 am

  2. […] 3. The failure of the officers of Camden Counci l who prepared  the brief for the planning committee  to include the details of Brown’s interference with the bidding process in the brief. See and… […]

    Pingback by Elite Mischief – Gordon Brown and The Francis Crick Institute | England calling — November 11, 2012 @ 4:44 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


    January 2011
    M T W T F S S
    « Dec   Feb »


%d bloggers like this: