The United Kingdom Centre for Medical Research and Innovation

The new leader of the Greens knows how to keep mum

September 9, 2012
2 Comments

Robert Henderson

Natalie Bennett  has been elected leader of the Green party in England and Wales (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-19462474). I know  Miss Bennett through my participation in a campaign to prevent the building of the Francis Crick  Institute (FCI),  a gigantic research laboratory. The primary objections to the Institute (formerly the UK CENTRE FOR MEDICAL RESEARCH AND INNOVATION or UKCRMI) arose from the fact that research would be done on dangerous  diseases at  an  unreservedly inappropriate site – the FCI is being built  just behind the British Library and next door to the  new Eurostar  terminal at St Pancras.  Those wishing to discover more should go to my blog  https://ukcmri.wordpress.com/2010/12/16/objection-to-ukcmri-planning-application-for-a-research-centre-in-brill-place-london-nw1/.

Miss Bennett took a leading part in that campaign which lasted several years and ended in very predictable failure.  That was because the project had the wholehearted  support of both the Labour Government and the Tory Opposition. Normal campaigning on such  grounds as  danger and its contradiction of Camden Council’s public planning policy  was irrelevant, because  the supposedly impartial decision on who should be allowed to purchase the site  had  been taken before the bidding process  even closed. (There were several other serious bidders with alternative uses such as housing and commercial development). The decision was meant to be taken by the Secretary of State for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)  on the grounds of value for money. No one outside DCMS was meant to be involved.  The other bidders were spending their money (and these types of bids are very expensive) with no hope of success.

The one serious chance to stop the building of the Institute was to expose the illegitimate nature of the decision on who should purchase the site. This I did  using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  The information gained by this means revealed that Gordon Brown when Prime Minister had intervened to ensure that the consortium backing the FCI  bid got the land.  The documents showing Brown’s interference are at the bottom of this post.   They should be read in the context of powerful men getting their will done through expressing their desires rather than issuing direct orders. However, many of the documents are directly explicit about the involvement.

At the time of the campaign Miss Bennett was  editor of  The Guardian Weekly, a post she occupied  from December 2007 until March 2012.  She was in a  position to get the story of Gordon Brown’s illicit involvement in the bidding process into the mainstream media . I supplied her  with copies of  the documents showing Brown’s interference. Miss Bennett refused to use them, something more than a little surprising because  not only was she campaigning against the building of the FCI on the site,  the interference  was a category A political story and ostensibly one right up the Guardian’s street because it dealt with government  misbehaviour behind closed doors.   Miss Bennett  also failed to use the information when she was called before the Commons Science and Technology committee to give evidence.

I will leave it to the reader to speculate about  Miss Bennett’s motives for not using the information , but  here are a few objective facts relevant to the question:

1.  Despite being a  mainstream journalist, she refused to use information which  could have stopped the building of the FCI  and which was, regardless of her  involvement in the campaign against the FCI, the basis for a heavyweight  political story.

2. Miss Bennett’s politics are hard core politically correct. Here are a few  gems from her personal website http://nataliebennett.co.uk/ to give you an idea of her mentality and politics:

Home page: Natalie Bennett, Journalist, Writer, Green, Feminist

Resurrecting Our Foremothers:

The Prime Minister Miss Bennett refused to expose was someone very much to her political taste, namely, someone who headed a Government reeking with political correctness.

The honesty of her behaviour and words as leader of the Greens should be weighed in the context of her behaviour over the Francis Crick Institute campaign.

The honesty of her behaviour and words as leader of the Greens should be weighed in the context of her behaviour over the Francis Crick Institute campaign.

————————————————————————————————-

Gordon Brown’s involvement in the sale of the land to UKCRMI | February 21, 2011

To make  the matter as simple as possible to follow,  I have selected from the  documents in my possession which show Gordon Brown’s illegitimate involvement in the sale of  the land to UKCRMI six which form a paper trail from the period before the closing date for expressions of interest  to the announcement of the sale of the land by Gordon Brown.  Some of the  documents are lengthy. To prevent readers having to plough through them   I have highlighted  (by bolding) the passages in the documents which refer directly or indirectly to Brown’s interest.  Where a figure such as  [40] appears, that means redaction has occurred under the exemptions in the FOIA –  the number relates to the clause number of the exemption.  These documents  also give a good sketch of the background to the bidding process.

NB This document shows that  Brown was interfering even before the closing date for expressions of interest was closed.  The relevant date is not that on Rosemary Banner’s letter, but the enclosure which came with the letter, i.e., 1 August 2007. 

HM TREASURY

I Horse Guards Road London SWIA 2HQ

Rosemary Banner

Head of Information Rights Unit

Tel: 020 7270 5723

Fax:

rosemary.banner@hm-treasury.x.gsi.gov.uk

http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk

Mr R Henderson

24 June 2009

Dear Mr Henderson

Freedom of Information Act 2000: medical research centre   We wrote to you on 27 August 2008 conveying the conclusions of the internal review carried out in relation to your complaint to the Treasury about the handling of your April 2008 request for information under the Freedom of Information Act.

In light of your complaint to the Information Commissioner we have reconsidered the single item of information that falls within the scope of your request that has not already been disclosed. As a result of this re-examination we have identified additional information that we are now able to provide to you. Please see attachment at the end of this letter. For the avoidance of doubt we should make it clear that the Treasury continues to regard its original decision not to release this information as correct at the request and review stage. However, given the passage of time, we believe that the public interest in withholding has diminished and can now be released.

We have, however, decided to continue to withhold two sentences from this information under section 35(1 )(a) of the Act. These sentences continue to relate to ongoing policy. We have explained our position to the ICO regarding this, and are able to clarify that the redacted sentences contain information on a bid for funding from the MRC that the Department for Business Innovation and Skills are assessing in the normal way. Funding decisions have not concluded. As always the Government will publish actual funding provisions once a decision has been reached. Due to the way funding bids are negotiated and assessed this was been a live issue at the time of the request; internal review; and remains so at this present time. To be helpful we refer to evidence published by the select committee in December 2007. You will see that at that time the bid was £118 million.

http://www. parliament.the-stationery-office.com/pa/cm200708/cmselect/cmdius/1 85/1 85we02.htm

The Treasury is not able to comment as to what the final figure will be until a decision has been made, I reiterate that once decided it will be announced publicly.

Rosemary Banner

Head of Information Rights Unit

For HM Treasury

EXTRACT of relevant information extracted from a report prepared

1 August 2007

NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF MEDICAL RESEARCH (NIMR)   MRC concluded some years ago that the NIMR’s future location should be close to a London Teaching Hospital. With this in mind, MRC purchased at their risk for £28M in March 2006, but with Treasury’s knowledge, a one-acre site at the National Temperance Hospital location (NTH) in London.

MRC has recently learnt that its earlier preferred site for NIMR, a three-acre site adjacent to the British Library, has now become available. This larger site would have the major advantage of accommodating more translational research. Encouragingly MRC has most recently proposed that the site would be developed in partnership with Cancer Research UK (CRUK), Wellcome Trust and UCL as a potentially strong consortium. The Wellcome Trust have mentioned that they would be prepared to make a sizeable investment to help establish a new world class medical research facility in North London if they can secure DCMS-owned land and planning permission from Camden Council. At present the consortia has registered its interest in buying the site.

This project has had a very long gestation period, during which the arguments for the strong scientific case for relocating within London (which has a cluster of medical research and teaching hospitals) and the need to retain MRC’s highly skilled staff.

The recent preparation of a suitable business case has been further complicated of late by both the re-emergence of the British Library site as a possible location.

The PM is also most recently stated that he is very keen to make sure that Government departments are properly coordinated on this project and that if there is a consensus that this is indeed an exciting project then we do what we can to make it happen. This is extremely helpful from a DIUS and MRC perspective, but, formally a NIMR relocation project in London has yet to receive Lyons approval from Treasury (for either the first planned NTH site or the possible BL site).

MRC have employed Deloitte to prepare a full business case for the relocation project.

The scientific and operational case for a London location is strong in our view.

Key Dates for the Preparation and Appraisal of the NIMR Proposal

– July 2007 — Letter to Treasury to inform CST of MRC’s proposed bid for the BL site.

-July/August 2007 — Expression of interest in the BL site registered by  the MRC Consortium.

-September 2007 — further substantive discussions with MRC/Deloitte  on Lyons and emerging business case material.

-September 2007 — MRC NIMR project included by RCUK in the 2007 Roadmap consultation.

-October 2007 — first full draft business case prepared by MRC/Deloitte.

-October 2007 — MRC consortium formally bid to DCMS for the BL site.

-November 2007 — Full revised business case received and Lyons case consideration undertaken by Treasury.

-December — Progress submission to Ministers.

-December 2007 — MRC Consortium formed and, if successful in bidding, payment to DCMS for the BL site.

-December 2007 — MRC’s NIMR project prioritised by Research Council Directors for receipt of DIUS funding through the Large Facility Capital Fund.

-February/March 2008 — Submission to Ministers for approval of LFCF allocation to support the MRC’s NIMR project, subject to our final assessment of (a) the outcome of the Lyons case (b) the full business case and (C) prioritisation by RCUK of the use of the available LFCF,

April/May 2008 — DIUS Ministerial announcement of NIMR relocation project approval (subject to all the above).

Further Background to the National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) The NIMR is one of the MRC’s largest and oldest research institutes. The NIMR is recognised as once of the UK’s foremost basic research institutes with a strong scientific track record and reputation. NIMR currently  houses the World Influenza Centre (WIC), which was established by  World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1948. The Centre, works with a  network of collaborating laboratories to detect and characterise the emergence of new influenza virus anywhere in the world including avian virus H5N1. NIMR is also at the forefront of international research to discover how molecular changes in the virus affect its ability to infect people and cause disease.

The NIMR has been at its present site since 1950. If it were to remain there the buildings would need substantial refurbishment. It is currently a ‘stand-alone’ Institute not physically linked to any University, Medical School or Hospital. In 2003 the MRC set up an expert Task Force to examine the strategic positioning of the NIMR research within the MRC portfolio. The Task Force concluded that their vision for NIMR would be best delivered through an intramural — i.e. with the staff employed by MRC — research institute on a single site in central London in partnership with a leading university and hospital (they received proposals from King’s College and University College) and this would enhance: – The multidisciplinary nature of NIMR’s work, providing access to other biologists, physical scientists, engineers, and mathematicians – Opportunities to collaborate more closely with clinicians and strengthen the focus of translational research.

Remaining at Mill Hill was considered by the Task Force where the majority view was that this would not be a viable option as it would not deliver Council’s vision for a world class research institute carrying out basic, clinical and translational research in partnership with a leading university and hospital. The position was endorsed by the MRC Council. This disappointed some staff at NIMR and there has been much lobbying of Ministers and MPs and as a result the issue has received some media interest.

MRC Council selected UCL as its preferred partner for the renewal and relocation of NIMR in Central London, in close proximity to a major teaching hospital (University College Hospital) and relevant university departments, including chemistry and physics.

The MRC Council approved an outline Business Plan for the renewal and relocation of NIMR in July 2005. The Business Plan confirmed the feasibility of developing the renewed Institute on the National Temperance Hospital (NTH) site in Hampstead Road, which MRC bought (at its own risk but with Treasury’s knowledge), for £28M in 2006, suggesting that the new site could provide accommodation for up to 1,058 staff, including 248 from UCL and potentially 40 additional research staff.

MRC have recognised that their development of the business case needed to ensure a successful project and to satisfy the requirements of DIUS and Treasury requires additional skills to those residing within the MRC and most recently further advice has been procured by MRC from Deloitte for assistance with preparation of the business case.

It was also not our intention at review stage to withhold names of senior civil servants of the email provided at initial request. While we explained that the sender was Jeremy Heywood from the Cabinet Office we overlooked to state the other officials who were recipients of that email. They were: The Permanent Secretaries of DIUS and DCMS Ian Watmore and Jonathan Stephens; the Managing Director of Public Spending in HMT, John Kingman; and the Chief Operating Officer, DCMS Nicholas Holgate.

————————————————————————————

NB This document shows Brown’s  interest just before the short list of bidders was decided. 

RESTRICTED – POLICY & COMMERCIAL

To James Purnell Margaret Hodge, Jonathan Stephens,Ros Brayfield

From Nicholas Holgate

Date 18 September 2007 ____________

SALE OF LAND TO THE NORTH OF THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Issue: mainly for information but also to ask how you would wish to be involved in this transaction.

The Department owns 3.6 acres to the north of the British Library. With the completion of the new train terminal, we are able to sell it and have been conducting a competitive process so that Ministers can choose what represents best value, comprising not just the proceeds from sale but also the use to which the bidder intends to put the land.

2. We are bound to be concerned about proceeds:

a. There is an obvious obligation, on Jonathan as the department’s Accounting Officer, to secure the best return we can for the taxpayer;

b. the Government is close to breaching its fiscal rules and has set itself a demanding target for asset disposals. Your predecessor strongly rebutted the Treasury’s proposal that we should sell assets worth £150m by 2010-11 and it has not formally been debated since your arrival; but we are likely to have to raise some funds from disposals. In any case:

c. proceeds from this sale are earmarked to contribute towards the budget of the Olympic Delivery Authority for 2007-08.

3. Subject to Treasury agreement, we can nevertheless also take public value” into account. We are aware of two such bids one led by the Medical Research Council, with support from the Wellcome Foundation and others for a research facility; and one that wishes to remain confidential but which is essentially related to faith and education.

4. The facts are:

a. We have now received 28 bids in response to a prospectus. Amongst other things, the prospectus drew attention to the local planning policy guidance, which steers bidders towards a scheme that is roughly 50:50 commercial and residential development with 50% affordable housing. It is Camden Borough Council and the Mayor who will have the last word on what is in fact built on the site;

b. Our professional advisers have scored the bids on various criteria and are interviewing the top seven plus two others (the medical research bid is one of the two others) next week;

c. There is a significant financial gap between the top bids and the medical research bid.

5. Jonathan and I are meeting Jeremy Heywood (who is aware of both public value bids), Ian Watmore (Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills) and John Kingman (Treasury) tomorrow. We need to agree an orderly and appropriate process for selling the land, given the public value bidders, other Departments’ interest and the likelihood that the Prime Minister might wish to take an interest too.

6. We will report back to you then. Subject to your views and others’, one potential way forward is a. DIUS economists be invited to assess the public value of the medical research bid. We will need some such calculation if we sell at a discount. DCMS should not do this as we should display some neutrality between bidders . We decide whether we expect the medical research bid to match the best bid, improve their offer but not necessarily to match, or take a lower value on the chin. Given their backers, they can afford to match. But they may refuse to play; and/or we may not wish to be seen to be reducing their funding for good causes just to maximise proceeds;

c. We see whether there is a Government champion for the other bidder;

and

d. We then fairly characterise the two public value bidders and the best commercial bid (or bids, if they differ significantly in what they propose) to Ministers and No 10 for a decision.

Nicholas Holgate

Chief Operating Officer

————————————————————————————

NB This shows Brown’s interest a few weeks before the sale to UKCRMI was agreed.

BRIEFING NOTE FROM POLICY ADVISERS DATED 12 NOVEMBER 2007 TO THE PRIME MINISTER COPIED TO No 10 OFFICIALS.

THE NOTE WAS ENTITLED: PROJECT BLISS – CREATING A WORLD-LEADING MEDICAL RESEARCH FACILITY IN LONDON

Disclosable extracts:

We are close to being ready to announce Government support for the creation of a world-leading medical research facility in London.

The key component being finalised is the sale of land, which will allow the BLISS partner organisations (the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, the Wellcome Trust and University College London) to develop their detailed proposals for the creation of the centre.

We anticipate that the deal will be finalised over the next few days and we should be able to announce the outcome of the process In the next few weeks. On current plans, we would expect the sale to complete during December and preparations for development to begin straight away. The expectation is that the Institute would be up and running by 2012.

This is an important opportunity to demonstrate what the UK’s commitment to medical research really means in practice. And it fits very well with the focus of your intended health speech.

What would you be announcing?

• We would be committing Government support to the creation of a new centre for UK biomedical research, with 1,500+ scientists, at a level commensurate with the very best institutions in the world.

• The BLISS consortium brings together four of the leading medical research institutions in the UK – the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, the Wellcome Trust and University College London.

• The Centre responds to the vision, outlined in Sir David Cooksey’s review of UK health research presented to Treasury in 2006, of better integration and translation of research into patient and public benefit. The Centre will benefit from economies of scale, enhanced infrastructure, the critical mass to optimise collaboration, and the capacity to take scientific discoveries from the lab bench to the hospital bed.

• These four key partners, together with the expectation that other organisations would come forward to invest In the centre or to lease research space, bring a powerful combination of skills and capabilities — basic research, applied research, the capabilities to convert research and innovation for public and commercial use, and the skills and opportunities presented by access to a leading university and teaching hospital. The potential, In terms of understanding disease, and developing new drugs, treatments and cures, is huge.

How to announce?

The suggestion is that you announce this a few days before your health speech, planned for 6th December. We would suggest a visit to a high-tech medical site in the morning to get pictures, followed by a meeting at No lO with all relevant stakeholders (primarily the four partner organisations) at which you make the formal announcement and ‘launch’ the project. Let us know your thoughts on whether this is the right way to proceed with the BLISS announcement?

Background

The vision for the BLISS Centre has six themes:

Research innovation and excellence • Bring together outstanding scientists from two world-class research institutes (MRC NIMR and the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute), collaborating with UCL, to address fundamental questions of human health and disease. • Through Wellcome Trust funding, development of tools for integrative biology, with an emphasis on the development of advanced microscopy imaging and on the mathematicaland computational needs in this field.

• Increase scientific innovation through new links with the physical sciences, life sciences, mathematics, engineering and the social Sciences at UCLI

• Develop close links between the Centre and the outstanding hospitals nearby (Including the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases at Queens Square, Great Ormond Street, Moorfields and University College Hospital) and other major hospitals in London (including Hammersmith Hospital and the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre at Hammersmith, and the Maudsley Hospital and the Institute of Psychiatry)1 State-of-the-art research facilities

• Develop a multidisciplinary research complex operating in state-of-the-art facilities, with the size and diversity to be internationally competitive with the world’s top research institutes.

• Establish a new centre for development of advanced imaging technologies and analysis. A national focus for biomedical science

• Interact with other local centres of excellence to foster and facilitate collaboration between basic, translational and Clinical scientists1  Host national and international research meetings and conferences, facilitated by its proximity to national and International transport links and the conference facilities of the British Library. An effective interface with technology transfer and development

• Facilitate the effective development of therapeutic and diagnostic devices and drugs, by allowing the technology transfer arms of MRC and Cancer Research UK to work closely together.

• Drive innovation in developing tests and technologies through interaction between researchers and development laboratories.

Finding and developing the scientists of the future • Provide an attractive environment to secure and retain world-class scientists by providing an outstanding setting for research and collaboration. • Boost the recruitment and training of scientists and doctors of the future by providing an excellent environment for postgraduate and postdoctoral training, and for training outstanding clinical scientists committed to medical research.

Engaging with the public

• Educate the public on important issues in health and disease.

• Bring together and enhance partners’ public information and education programmes, with a particular focus on engaging younger people.

————————————————————————————

NB This document shows Brown’s involvement just prior to the sale of the land.

BRIEFING NOTE FROM NO 10 POLICY ADVISER TO THE PRIME MINISTER DATED 27 NOVEMBER 2007

COPIED TO NO 10 OFFICIALS

ENTITLED “MEETING WITH PAUL NURSE ON BLISS PROJECT”

You are meeting Paul Nurse who is likely to lead the BLISS institute, along, with Mark Walport, Director of The Wellcome Trust, and Harpal Kumar, Head of Cancer Research, two partners in BLISS

We are close to being ready to announce Government support for plans to create a world-leading medical research facility in London, led by the BLISS consortium made up of the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, the Wellcome Trust and University College London.

We have now effectively finalised negotiations on the sale of the 35 acre site, adjacent to the British Library: a price has been agreed with DCMS, and the deal is complete subject to agreement on how much of the proceeds DCMS will retain. We are therefore ready for an announcement next week on the sale of the land – but will not be announcing full details of the project overall, as there remain various Issues to resolve, including reaching agreement on business plans and gaining planning permission. We would therefore announce the Government’s support for the vision of the new centre – rather than definitive support for the centre itself. The Project BLISS consortium brings together four leading medical research institutions in the UK and will create a new centre for UK biomedical  research, with 1,500+ scientists, at a level commensurate with the very best Institutions in the world.

The Centre responds to the vision, outlined in Sir David Cooksey’s review of UK health research presented to Treasury in 2006, of better integration and translation of research into patient and public benefit.

The Centre will benefit from economies of scale, enhanced infrastructure, the critical mass to optimise collaboration, and the capacity to take scientific discoveries from the lab bench to the hospital bed. The Centre will create a place for:

• collaboration, between leading scientists and clinicians, working on some of the most pressing medical problems of our time;

• excellence, maintaining the quality of the UK’s life sciences research base;

• application, making links between research, medical practice and the pharmaceutical industry;

• innovation, translating research innovation into new treatments;

• learning, bringing forward a new generation of scientific leaders;

  •discovery, showcasing the challenges and potential of life sciences to a new audience.

• Using the close proximity to the British Library, the Centre will develop a public engagement and education programme.

Sir Paul Nurse

Sir Paul Nurse is President of Rockerfeller University, formerly Joint Director General of Cancer Research UK and winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize for Medicine. His appointment has not yet been publicly announced,but he is set to lead the project as chair the Scientific Planning Committee.

Briefing note from Bliss

————————————————————————————

NB This document from just before the sale of the land shows  the extent of Brown’s involvement with the suggestion that he would arbitrate.  

Sent: 27 November 2007 13:09

To: HOLGATE NICHOLAS

Cc: _[40]_____________

Subject: RESTRICTED – Land to the North

Hi Nicholas,

Jonathan spoke to Jeremy Heywood this morning. Jeremy said he needed the bid to be agreed by next Wednesday – 5 Dec (or Thursday  latest) as PM wanted to get MRC in then (or possible public announcement.

Jonathan explained that there are two issues from our point of view: .No revised formal offer has been received by DCMS .HMT are not being helpful of recycling returns – without an improved offer from HMT JS said it would he v hard to justify.

JR said he thought the offer was sent to us yesterday – have checked but  nothing in JSs post or email – JH will chase. JH also said he would go   back to HMT to see what more they can do, but that ultimately PM may have to arbitrate.

Cheers

[40]

[40]

Private Secretary  to Jonathan Stephens

Department for (Culture, Media and Sport 2-4 Cockpur Street, London

SWlY 5Dl1 email: [40]@culture.gsi.gov.uk tel: 0207211 fax: 020 72116259

————————————————————————————

NB This document shows Brown’s state of mind immediately after the sale of the land was agreed.

Treasury document

From – name censored

Sent: 04 December 2007 19:49

To: name(s) censored.

CC: name(s) censored)

Thanks for everyone’s help and support in making the announcement tomorrow happen. The PM is truly delighted that departments have been able to work together to secure this huge opportunity for Britain

RESTRICTED – COMMERCIAL


New Scientist reports on the Science and Technology Committee’s reservations about UKCRMI’s location

May 31, 2011
3 Comments

   The
S
Word: The policy and politics of science

Is Britain’s big biomedical institute in the right place?

00:00 25 May 2011

Roger
Highfield, editor of
New Scientist magazine

The project has been billed as the most exciting biomedical research initiative for a generation.

 Now plans to build the giant research centre in London have been given qualified backing by members of parliament.
The Science and Technology Committee publishes its report on the UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation (UKCMRI) which commends the scientific vision for the centre but expresses reservations about  the project’s location.

The case for the centre’s central London site near St Pancras station was far from overwhelming and it could have been built elsewhere, says the committee.

The  advantages of a central location for up to 1500 staff come at a price: the cost of construction is higher at St Pancras than any viable alternative site; a site incapable of expansion; and the concentration of medical sciences in the south of England.

The “initial investment” for the project has risen to an estimated £645 million but do not include the full cost of fitting out the UKCMRI.

The operating costs are estimated to be around £100 million a year, though the evidence before the committee suggests that they could be significantly higher.

The Committee’s concerns were assuaged by evidence from the government that the taxpayer will not be liable to any further costs above the £200 million already committed, should the project overrun:

Read more at

http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/thesword/2011/05/is-britains-big-biomedical-ins-1.html

———————————————————

Dear Mr Highfield,

I write in response to your “Is Britain’s big biomedical institute in the right place?”  There is an issue relating to the siting of UKCRMI of which you will be unaware: Gordon Brown when Prime Minister interfered with what was meant to be a bidding process so as to invalidate the process. He did this by actively promoting the sale of the land to UKCRMI even before the closing date for expressions of interest. The sale of the land was supposedly to be decided by the DCMS Secretary of State, yet Brown was instructing the various government  departments involved to facilitate the sale to UKCRMI. How do I know this? Through the use of the FOIA.

I have set up a blog http://www.ukcmri.wordpress.com/ which deals with Gordon Brown’s interference and the other objections to the site, especially the security of the institute and provides a good deal of background to the protests against the institute being placed on the site.

To allow you to get into the story quickly look at these blog posts first:

https://ukcmri.wordpress.com/gordon-brown%E2%80%99s-involvement-in-the-sale-of-the-land-to-ukcrmi/

https://ukcmri.wordpress.com/2010/12/16/objection-to-ukcmri-planning-application-for-a-research-centre-in-brill-place-london-nw1/

You may cite or reproduce  any of the  material on the blog. Should you wish it, I will make available to you all the documents I have received using the FOIA, although the most important ones are on the blog. I should also be happy to write an article on the matter for you.

Yours sincerely,

 

Robert Henderson


Notification of the contamination of the bidding process to the lead contractor

March 4, 2011
2 Comments
This email went to the entire executive board of Laing O’Rourke. The emails used were info@laingorourke.com, ray.o’rourke@laingorourke.com, des.o’rourke@laingorourke.com, bernard.dempsey@laingorourke.com, anna.stewart@laingorourke.com, roger.robinson@laingorourke.com, andrew.wilson@laingorourke.com, paul.neely@laingorourke.com

None of the emails bounced so there is a good chance some at least of the mean board will read the email.  Robert Henderson

—————————————————–

4 March 2010

 To: Ray O’Rourke – Chairman and Chief Executive Laing O’Rourke

 CC Des O’Rourke – Deputy Chairman

      Bernard Dempsey – Deputy Chairman

     Anna Stewart – Group Director of Finance and Commerce

     Roger Robinson – Chief Executive Officer, Europe

     Andrew Wilson – Chief Executive Officer, Australia and South East Asia

     Paul Neely – Company Secretary

Dear Mr O’Rourke, 

I see that Laing O’Rourke has just signed the contract to build the UKCRMI laboratory on land behind the British Library.  There is a complication of which I suspect you are unaware: the bidding for the site was a sham. There is consequently the possibility of legal action from the failed bidders and other interested parties.

I have used the FOIA to demonstrate that Gordon Brown fixed the result of the bid for UKCRMI by his personal influence.  He had done so even before the period for expressions of interest was over. 

To make the matter as simple as possible, I shall not at this stage send you all the documents relating to Brown’s interference, merely those which form a paper trail from the period before the closing date for expressions of interest  to the announcement of the sale of the land by Gordon Brown.   I have highlighted  (by bolding) the passages in the documents which refer directly or indirectly to Brown’s interest.  Where a figure such [40] appears, that means redaction has occurred under one of the the exemptions in the FOIA, the number referring to a paragraph or clause in the Act.  These documents will also give you a good sketch of the background to the bidding process.

Further relevant documents can be found at https://ukcmri.wordpress.com/2010/12/16/objection-to-ukcmri-planning-application-for-a-research-centre-in-brill-place-london-nw1/

I shall be happy to allow you full sight of the documents I have obtained under  the FOIA. 

You may wish to  reconsider the contract in the light of this information.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Henderson

See https://ukcmri.wordpress.com/2011/02/21/gordon-browns-involvement-in-the-sale-of-the-land-to-ukcrmi/ for the documents supplied with the above email


The failed bidders notified that the bidding process was a sham

February 24, 2011
3 Comments
Note: The email below has been sent to all the bidders for the land (a list is at the bottom of the email) apart from   Nottinghill Housing Association,   Minerva Property, London and Regional  Holdings Ltd ,  Princeton Investments Ltd, Tiger Developments Ltd, City Lofts Group  (went into administration), First Regeneration Homes, Splendid Hotel Group, Pantherlee Ltd, Leander. I obtained emails for all but the last four of those not contacted but these failed.
  
The email contact varies between strong (CEOs) and weak (email sent through the company website).  Robert Henderson
 
24 February 2010

Dear Sirs,

 Your organisation  took part in the bidding process for the DCMS land behind the British Library in Kings Cross.  In fact, you were not taking part in a bidding process at all but a charade  engineered by Gordon Brown in his position as Prime Minister.  How do I know this? I used the FOIA to ferret out the truth of the matter.

Brown fixed the result of the bid for UKCRMI by his personal influence.  He had done so even before the period for expressions of interest was over.  Your organisation devoted time and money to a bid which had no hope of success.  You have cast iron grounds to sue for damages and the recovery of your costs. 

To make the matter as simple as possible, I shall not at this stage send you all the documents relating to Brown’s interference, merely those which form a paper trail from the period before the closing date for expressions of interest  to the announcement of the sale of the land by Gordon Brown.   I have highlighted  (by bolding) the passages in the documents which refer directly or indirectly to Brown’s interest.  Where a figure such [40] appears, that means redaction has occurred under one of the the exemptions in the FOIA, the number referring to a paragraph or clause in the Act.  These documents will also give you a good sketch of the background to the bidding process.

Further relevant documents can be found at https://ukcmri.wordpress.com/2010/12/16/objection-to-ukcmri-planning-application-for-a-research-centre-in-brill-place-london-nw1/

You will also find a good deal of other material relating to other objections to the siting of UKCRMI on Brill Place in the UKCRMI wordpress blog. The security issues I raise are,  with Brown’s interference, the two most important objections to the siting of the laboratory on Brill Place.  In particular, the question of what biohazard 3+  represents  was not meaningfully addressed by the committee.

I shall be happy to allow you full sight of the documents I have obtained under  the FOIA and their use in any civil actions you may wish to pursue against any of the parties involved in the deception.  In addition, I am willing to give evidence on your behalf in any case which reaches the floor of the court. 

 Yours sincerely,

 

Robert Henderson

—————————————

See https://ukcmri.wordpress.com/2011/02/21/gordon-browns-involvement-in-the-sale-of-the-land-to-ukcrmi/ for the documents supplied with the above email


Gordon Brown’s involvement in the sale of the land to UKCRMI

February 21, 2011
6 Comments

To make  the matter as simple as possible to follow,  I have selected from the  documents in my possession which show Gordon Brown’s illegitimate involvement in the sale of  the land to UKCRMI six which form a paper trail from the period before the closing date for expressions of interest  to the announcement of the sale of the land by Gordon Brown.  Some of the  documents are lengthy. To prevent readers having to plough through them   I have highlighted  (by bolding) the passages in the documents which refer directly or indirectly to Brown’s interest.  Where a figure such as  [40] appears, that means redaction has occurred under the exemptions in the FOIA –  the number relates to the clause number of the exemption.  These documents  also give a good sketch of the background to the bidding process.

Further relevant documents can be found at https://ukcmri.wordpress.com/2010/12/16/objection-to-ukcmri-planning-application-for-a-research-centre-in-brill-place-london-nw1/

———————————————————————————— 

 NB This document shows that  Brown was interfering even before the closing date for expressions of interest was closed.  The relevant date is not that on Rosemary Banner’s letter, but the enclosure which came with the letter, i.e., 1 August 2007. 

HM TREASURY

I Horse Guards Road London SWIA 2HQ

   Rosemary Banner

Head of Information Rights Unit

Tel: 020 7270 5723

Fax:

rosemary.banner@hm-treasury.x.gsi.gov.uk

http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk

  Mr R Henderson

24 June 2009

 Dear Mr Henderson  

Freedom of Information Act 2000: medical research centre   We wrote to you on 27 August 2008 conveying the conclusions of the internal review carried out in relation to your complaint to the Treasury about the handling of your April 2008 request for information under the Freedom of Information Act.  

In light of your complaint to the Information Commissioner we have reconsidered the single item of information that falls within the scope of your request that has not already been disclosed. As a result of this re-examination we have identified additional information that we are now able to provide to you. Please see attachment at the end of this letter. For the avoidance of doubt we should make it clear that the Treasury continues to regard its original decision not to release this information as correct at the request and review stage. However, given the passage of time, we believe that the public interest in withholding has diminished and can now be released.

We have, however, decided to continue to withhold two sentences from this information under section 35(1 )(a) of the Act. These sentences continue to relate to ongoing policy. We have explained our position to the ICO regarding this, and are able to clarify that the redacted sentences contain information on a bid for funding from the MRC that the Department for Business Innovation and Skills are assessing in the normal way. Funding decisions have not concluded. As always the Government will publish actual funding provisions once a decision has been reached. Due to the way funding bids are negotiated and assessed this was been a live issue at the time of the request; internal review; and remains so at this present time. To be helpful we refer to evidence published by the select committee in December 2007. You will see that at that time the bid was £118 million.

http://www. parliament.the-stationery-office.com/pa/cm200708/cmselect/cmdius/1 85/1 85we02.htm

The Treasury is not able to comment as to what the final figure will be until a decision has been made, I reiterate that once decided it will be announced publicly.

  Rosemary Banner

Head of Information Rights Unit

For HM Treasury  

EXTRACT of relevant information extracted from a report prepared

 1 August 2007

  NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF MEDICAL RESEARCH (NIMR)   MRC concluded some years ago that the NIMR’s future location should be close to a London Teaching Hospital. With this in mind, MRC purchased at their risk for £28M in March 2006, but with Treasury’s knowledge, a one-acre site at the National Temperance Hospital location (NTH) in London.

MRC has recently learnt that its earlier preferred site for NIMR, a three-acre site adjacent to the British Library, has now become available. This larger site would have the major advantage of accommodating more translational research. Encouragingly MRC has most recently proposed that the site would be developed in partnership with Cancer Research UK (CRUK), Wellcome Trust and UCL as a potentially strong consortium. The Wellcome Trust have mentioned that they would be prepared to make a sizeable investment to help establish a new world class medical research facility in North London if they can secure DCMS-owned land and planning permission from Camden Council. At present the consortia has registered its interest in buying the site.

  This project has had a very long gestation period, during which the arguments for the strong scientific case for relocating within London (which has a cluster of medical research and teaching hospitals) and the need to retain MRC’s highly skilled staff.

  The recent preparation of a suitable business case has been further complicated of late by both the re-emergence of the British Library site as a possible location.  

The PM is also most recently stated that he is very keen to make sure that Government departments are properly coordinated on this project and that if there is a consensus that this is indeed an exciting project then we do what we can to make it happen. This is extremely helpful from a DIUS and MRC perspective, but, formally a NIMR relocation project in London has yet to receive Lyons approval from Treasury (for either the first planned NTH site or the possible BL site).

  MRC have employed Deloitte to prepare a full business case for the relocation project.

  The scientific and operational case for a London location is strong in our view.

  Key Dates for the Preparation and Appraisal of the NIMR Proposal  

– July 2007 — Letter to Treasury to inform CST of MRC’s proposed bid for the BL site.

 -July/August 2007 — Expression of interest in the BL site registered by  the MRC Consortium.

 -September 2007 — further substantive discussions with MRC/Deloitte  on Lyons and emerging business case material.

 -September 2007 — MRC NIMR project included by RCUK in the 2007 Roadmap consultation.

 -October 2007 — first full draft business case prepared by MRC/Deloitte.

 -October 2007 — MRC consortium formally bid to DCMS for the BL site.

 -November 2007 — Full revised business case received and Lyons case consideration undertaken by Treasury.

 -December — Progress submission to Ministers.

 -December 2007 — MRC Consortium formed and, if successful in bidding, payment to DCMS for the BL site.

 -December 2007 — MRC’s NIMR project prioritised by Research Council Directors for receipt of DIUS funding through the Large Facility Capital Fund.

 -February/March 2008 — Submission to Ministers for approval of LFCF allocation to support the MRC’s NIMR project, subject to our final assessment of (a) the outcome of the Lyons case (b) the full business case and (C) prioritisation by RCUK of the use of the available LFCF,

 April/May 2008 — DIUS Ministerial announcement of NIMR relocation project approval (subject to all the above).

  Further Background to the National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) The NIMR is one of the MRC’s largest and oldest research institutes. The NIMR is recognised as once of the UK’s foremost basic research institutes with a strong scientific track record and reputation. NIMR currently  houses the World Influenza Centre (WIC), which was established by  World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1948. The Centre, works with a  network of collaborating laboratories to detect and characterise the emergence of new influenza virus anywhere in the world including avian virus H5N1. NIMR is also at the forefront of international research to discover how molecular changes in the virus affect its ability to infect people and cause disease.   

The NIMR has been at its present site since 1950. If it were to remain there the buildings would need substantial refurbishment. It is currently a ‘stand-alone’ Institute not physically linked to any University, Medical School or Hospital. In 2003 the MRC set up an expert Task Force to examine the strategic positioning of the NIMR research within the MRC portfolio. The Task Force concluded that their vision for NIMR would be best delivered through an intramural — i.e. with the staff employed by MRC — research institute on a single site in central London in partnership with a leading university and hospital (they received proposals from King’s College and University College) and this would enhance: – The multidisciplinary nature of NIMR’s work, providing access to other biologists, physical scientists, engineers, and mathematicians – Opportunities to collaborate more closely with clinicians and strengthen the focus of translational research.

Remaining at Mill Hill was considered by the Task Force where the majority view was that this would not be a viable option as it would not deliver Council’s vision for a world class research institute carrying out basic, clinical and translational research in partnership with a leading university and hospital. The position was endorsed by the MRC Council. This disappointed some staff at NIMR and there has been much lobbying of Ministers and MPs and as a result the issue has received some media interest.  

MRC Council selected UCL as its preferred partner for the renewal and relocation of NIMR in Central London, in close proximity to a major teaching hospital (University College Hospital) and relevant university departments, including chemistry and physics.

The MRC Council approved an outline Business Plan for the renewal and relocation of NIMR in July 2005. The Business Plan confirmed the feasibility of developing the renewed Institute on the National Temperance Hospital (NTH) site in Hampstead Road, which MRC bought (at its own risk but with Treasury’s knowledge), for £28M in 2006, suggesting that the new site could provide accommodation for up to 1,058 staff, including 248 from UCL and potentially 40 additional research staff.

MRC have recognised that their development of the business case needed to ensure a successful project and to satisfy the requirements of DIUS and Treasury requires additional skills to those residing within the MRC and most recently further advice has been procured by MRC from Deloitte for assistance with preparation of the business case.

It was also not our intention at review stage to withhold names of senior civil servants of the email provided at initial request. While we explained that the sender was Jeremy Heywood from the Cabinet Office we overlooked to state the other officials who were recipients of that email. They were: The Permanent Secretaries of DIUS and DCMS Ian Watmore and Jonathan Stephens; the Managing Director of Public Spending in HMT, John Kingman; and the Chief Operating Officer, DCMS Nicholas Holgate.

———————————————————————————— 

 NB This document shows Brown’s  interest just before the short list of bidders was decided. 

RESTRICTED – POLICY & COMMERCIAL

To James Purnell Margaret Hodge, Jonathan Stephens,Ros Brayfield

From Nicholas Holgate

Date 18 September 2007 ____________

SALE OF LAND TO THE NORTH OF THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Issue: mainly for information but also to ask how you would wish to be involved in this transaction.

The Department owns 3.6 acres to the north of the British Library. With the completion of the new train terminal, we are able to sell it and have been conducting a competitive process so that Ministers can choose what represents best value, comprising not just the proceeds from sale but also the use to which the bidder intends to put the land.

2. We are bound to be concerned about proceeds:

a. There is an obvious obligation, on Jonathan as the department’s Accounting Officer, to secure the best return we can for the taxpayer;

b. the Government is close to breaching its fiscal rules and has set itself a demanding target for asset disposals. Your predecessor strongly rebutted the Treasury’s proposal that we should sell assets worth £150m by 2010-11 and it has not formally been debated since your arrival; but we are likely to have to raise some funds from disposals. In any case:

c. proceeds from this sale are earmarked to contribute towards the budget of the Olympic Delivery Authority for 2007-08.

3. Subject to Treasury agreement, we can nevertheless also take public value” into account. We are aware of two such bids one led by the Medical Research Council, with support from the Wellcome Foundation and others for a research facility; and one that wishes to remain confidential but which is essentially related to faith and education.

4. The facts are:

a. We have now received 28 bids in response to a prospectus. Amongst other things, the prospectus drew attention to the local planning policy guidance, which steers bidders towards a scheme that is roughly 50:50 commercial and residential development with 50% affordable housing. It is Camden Borough Council and the Mayor who will have the last word on what is in fact built on the site;

b. Our professional advisers have scored the bids on various criteria and are interviewing the top seven plus two others (the medical research bid is one of the two others) next week;

c. There is a significant financial gap between the top bids and the medical research bid.

5. Jonathan and I are meeting Jeremy Heywood (who is aware of both public value bids), Ian Watmore (Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills) and John Kingman (Treasury) tomorrow. We need to agree an orderly and appropriate process for selling the land, given the public value bidders, other Departments’ interest and the likelihood that the Prime Minister might wish to take an interest too.

6. We will report back to you then. Subject to your views and others’, one potential way forward is a. DIUS economists be invited to assess the public value of the medical research bid. We will need some such calculation if we sell at a discount. DCMS should not do this as we should display some neutrality between bidders . We decide whether we expect the medical research bid to match the best bid, improve their offer but not necessarily to match, or take a lower value on the chin. Given their backers, they can afford to match. But they may refuse to play; and/or we may not wish to be seen to be reducing their funding for good causes just to maximise proceeds;

c. We see whether there is a Government champion for the other bidder;

and

d. We then fairly characterise the two public value bidders and the best commercial bid (or bids, if they differ significantly in what they propose) to Ministers and No 10 for a decision.

Nicholas Holgate

Chief Operating Officer

———————————————————————————— 

NB This shows Brown’s interest a few weeks before the sale to UKCRMI was agreed.

BRIEFING NOTE FROM POLICY ADVISERS DATED 12 NOVEMBER 2007 TO THE PRIME MINISTER COPIED TO No 10 OFFICIALS.

THE NOTE WAS ENTITLED: PROJECT BLISS – CREATING A WORLD-LEADING MEDICAL RESEARCH FACILITY IN LONDON

Disclosable extracts:

We are close to being ready to announce Government support for the creation of a world-leading medical research facility in London.

The key component being finalised is the sale of land, which will allow the BLISS partner organisations (the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, the Wellcome Trust and University College London) to develop their detailed proposals for the creation of the centre.

We anticipate that the deal will be finalised over the next few days and we should be able to announce the outcome of the process In the next few weeks. On current plans, we would expect the sale to complete during December and preparations for development to begin straight away. The expectation is that the Institute would be up and running by 2012.

This is an important opportunity to demonstrate what the UK’s commitment to medical research really means in practice. And it fits very well with the focus of your intended health speech.

What would you be announcing?

• We would be committing Government support to the creation of a new centre for UK biomedical research, with 1,500+ scientists, at a level commensurate with the very best institutions in the world.

• The BLISS consortium brings together four of the leading medical research institutions in the UK – the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, the Wellcome Trust and University College London.

 • The Centre responds to the vision, outlined in Sir David Cooksey’s review of UK health research presented to Treasury in 2006, of better integration and translation of research into patient and public benefit. The Centre will benefit from economies of scale, enhanced infrastructure, the critical mass to optimise collaboration, and the capacity to take scientific discoveries from the lab bench to the hospital bed.

 • These four key partners, together with the expectation that other organisations would come forward to invest In the centre or to lease research space, bring a powerful combination of skills and capabilities — basic research, applied research, the capabilities to convert research and innovation for public and commercial use, and the skills and opportunities presented by access to a leading university and teaching hospital. The potential, In terms of understanding disease, and developing new drugs, treatments and cures, is huge.

How to announce?

The suggestion is that you announce this a few days before your health speech, planned for 6th December. We would suggest a visit to a high-tech medical site in the morning to get pictures, followed by a meeting at No lO with all relevant stakeholders (primarily the four partner organisations) at which you make the formal announcement and ‘launch’ the project. Let us know your thoughts on whether this is the right way to proceed with the BLISS announcement?

Background

The vision for the BLISS Centre has six themes:

Research innovation and excellence • Bring together outstanding scientists from two world-class research institutes (MRC NIMR and the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute), collaborating with UCL, to address fundamental questions of human health and disease. • Through Wellcome Trust funding, development of tools for integrative biology, with an emphasis on the development of advanced microscopy imaging and on the mathematicaland computational needs in this field.

• Increase scientific innovation through new links with the physical sciences, life sciences, mathematics, engineering and the social Sciences at UCLI

 • Develop close links between the Centre and the outstanding hospitals nearby (Including the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases at Queens Square, Great Ormond Street, Moorfields and University College Hospital) and other major hospitals in London (including Hammersmith Hospital and the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre at Hammersmith, and the Maudsley Hospital and the Institute of Psychiatry)1 State-of-the-art research facilities

 • Develop a multidisciplinary research complex operating in state-of-the-art facilities, with the size and diversity to be internationally competitive with the world’s top research institutes.

 • Establish a new centre for development of advanced imaging technologies and analysis. A national focus for biomedical science

 • Interact with other local centres of excellence to foster and facilitate collaboration between basic, translational and Clinical scientists1  Host national and international research meetings and conferences, facilitated by its proximity to national and International transport links and the conference facilities of the British Library. An effective interface with technology transfer and development

• Facilitate the effective development of therapeutic and diagnostic devices and drugs, by allowing the technology transfer arms of MRC and Cancer Research UK to work closely together.

• Drive innovation in developing tests and technologies through interaction between researchers and development laboratories.

Finding and developing the scientists of the future • Provide an attractive environment to secure and retain world-class scientists by providing an outstanding setting for research and collaboration. • Boost the recruitment and training of scientists and doctors of the future by providing an excellent environment for postgraduate and postdoctoral training, and for training outstanding clinical scientists committed to medical research.

Engaging with the public

• Educate the public on important issues in health and disease.

• Bring together and enhance partners’ public information and education programmes, with a particular focus on engaging younger people.

———————————————————————————— 

NB This document shows Brown’s involvement just prior to the sale of the land.

BRIEFING NOTE FROM NO 10 POLICY ADVISER TO THE PRIME MINISTER DATED 27 NOVEMBER 2007

COPIED TO NO 10 OFFICIALS

ENTITLED “MEETING WITH PAUL NURSE ON BLISS PROJECT”

You are meeting Paul Nurse who is likely to lead the BLISS institute, along, with Mark Walport, Director of The Wellcome Trust, and Harpal Kumar, Head of Cancer Research, two partners in BLISS

We are close to being ready to announce Government support for plans to create a world-leading medical research facility in London, led by the BLISS consortium made up of the Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, the Wellcome Trust and University College London.

We have now effectively finalised negotiations on the sale of the 35 acre site, adjacent to the British Library: a price has been agreed with DCMS, and the deal is complete subject to agreement on how much of the proceeds DCMS will retain. We are therefore ready for an announcement next week on the sale of the land – but will not be announcing full details of the project overall, as there remain various Issues to resolve, including reaching agreement on business plans and gaining planning permission. We would therefore announce the Government’s support for the vision of the new centre – rather than definitive support for the centre itself. The Project BLISS consortium brings together four leading medical research institutions in the UK and will create a new centre for UK biomedical  research, with 1,500+ scientists, at a level commensurate with the very best Institutions in the world.

The Centre responds to the vision, outlined in Sir David Cooksey’s review of UK health research presented to Treasury in 2006, of better integration and translation of research into patient and public benefit.

The Centre will benefit from economies of scale, enhanced infrastructure, the critical mass to optimise collaboration, and the capacity to take scientific discoveries from the lab bench to the hospital bed. The Centre will create a place for:

• collaboration, between leading scientists and clinicians, working on some of the most pressing medical problems of our time;

 • excellence, maintaining the quality of the UK’s life sciences research base;

• application, making links between research, medical practice and the pharmaceutical industry;

• innovation, translating research innovation into new treatments;

 • learning, bringing forward a new generation of scientific leaders;

  •discovery, showcasing the challenges and potential of life sciences to a new audience.

• Using the close proximity to the British Library, the Centre will develop a public engagement and education programme.

Sir Paul Nurse

Sir Paul Nurse is President of Rockerfeller University, formerly Joint Director General of Cancer Research UK and winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize for Medicine. His appointment has not yet been publicly announced,but he is set to lead the project as chair the Scientific Planning Committee.

Briefing note from Bliss

———————————————————————————— 

NB This document from just before the sale of the land shows  the extent of Brown’s involvement with the suggestion that he would arbitrate.  

Sent: 27 November 2007 13:09

To: HOLGATE NICHOLAS

Cc: _[40]_____________

Subject: RESTRICTED – Land to the North

  Hi Nicholas,  

Jonathan spoke to Jeremy Heywood this morning. Jeremy said he needed the bid to be agreed by next Wednesday – 5 Dec (or Thursday  latest) as PM wanted to get MRC in then (or possible public announcement.

Jonathan explained that there are two issues from our point of view: .No revised formal offer has been received by DCMS .HMT are not being helpful of recycling returns – without an improved offer from HMT JS said it would he v hard to justify.

 JR said he thought the offer was sent to us yesterday – have checked but  nothing in JSs post or email – JH will chase. JH also said he would go   back to HMT to see what more they can do, but that ultimately PM may have to arbitrate.

  Cheers  

[40]

  [40]

  Private Secretary  to Jonathan Stephens

Department for (Culture, Media and Sport 2-4 Cockpur Street, London

SWlY 5Dl1 email: [40]@culture.gsi.gov.uk tel: 0207211 fax: 020 72116259

———————————————————————————— 

NB This document shows Brown’s state of mind immediately after the sale of the land was agreed.

Treasury document

From – name censored

Sent: 04 December 2007 19:49

To: name(s) censored.

CC: name(s) censored)

Thanks for everyone’s help and support in making the announcement tomorrow happen. The PM is truly delighted that departments have been able to work together to secure this huge opportunity for Britain

RESTRICTED – COMMERCIAL


Choosing the short list of bidders

February 12, 2011
Leave a Comment

Note:  The document below (obtained under the FOIA)  opens a window on the way the latter stages of the bidding process were conducted.

Cluttons is a limited liability partnership of chartered surveyors.  Ralph Pearson is a partner. Atisreal International provides real estate property consultancy services in Europe. They  interviewed  bidders on behalf of the DCMS to compile the final  shortlist of five. The names of the shortlisted bidders were withheld by the DCMS.   Where a number such as [43] appears it refers to FOIA exemptions from the general need for disclosure.

It is very interesting to see that this document ends (see the very bottom of the document) by singling out UKCRMI (refered to as ‘The Partnership’) for special mention, viz:

“RECOMMENDATION

The Partnership (This is UKCRMI)

The financial bid of The Partnership is at too low a level for the Consortium to be recommended for shortlisting on a commercial basis.

They have confirmed this is their best financial offer.”

The fact that no other bidder is mentioned suggests that  Cluttons and/or Artireal had been pressed to find a way of justifying the selection of UKCRMI.

————————————————————————

From: Nanisha.Laudat@Cluttons.com on behalf of  Ralph.Pearson@Cluttons.com

Sent: 03 October 2007 11:28

To: [43]

Subject: Somerstown report on interviews with prospective purchasers

Attachments: Scoring spreadsheet for Somerstown – interview –

28.9.07.x1s; Summary of interviewees.doc

COMMERCIAL IN CONFIDENCE

John/Paul.

The interview process was completed on Friday afternoon and here is our report on the outcome.

It is structured as follows:

• Interviewed organisations

• Interview process

• Approach Co planning! public consultation

• Evaluation of proposals

• Results

• Recommendation

INTERVIEWED ORGANISATIONS

At the meeting held with DCMS on 12 September ii was agreed that following the evaluation of 28 proposals 9 of the organisations who had scored the highest following the submission of expressions of interest would be interviewed.

From this in the order of 5 organisations would be recommended for shortlisting and invited to make a formal financial proposal.

The 9 organisations involved have now been interviewed and comprise:

[43] Note by RH – all names redacted.

At interview [43] who were previously partnered by [43] arrived with a new partner [43] in the form of who had previously submitted a proposal but not scored sufficiently well to be included in the interview process.

INTERVIEW PROCESS

Interviews were held at the offices of Atisreal and Cluttons and for the most part lasted between I and 1.5 hours. They were structured in two parts. Firstly, various points were raised by ourselves to check and verify earlier assumptions. The areas covered were as follows:

• Background details to the company or consortium in question.

• Specific details on how the purchase would be funded,

• Conditionality.

• Development proposals.

• Clarification on overage/clawback.

• Extent of early consultation with Camden! local interest groups. •

Programme

The second part of the interview involved a presentation to the interviewee of the background to discussions with the British Library regarding the land swap and proposed new access road, the position with Union Railways. Easements, Cross River Train and issues relating to title, including the submission of a draft title report.

By way of a genera] comment the interviewing team (four or five were in attendance) were extremely pleased with the level of commitment and degree of detailed thought shown by each of the interviewees. In all cases senior people involved with the project attended, mostly with their architects and in sonic cases with a somewhat larger team of consultants.

 It is impossible to achieve total certainty on the willingness and ability of each organisation to complete a purchase, although the majority if not all of these organisations have the required resources.

It was also encouraging that no significant issues emerged in relation to background matters tabled on land swap, Union Railways, etc.

APPROACH TO PLANNING! PUBLIC CONSULTATION

A consistent theme running throughout the interviews was the approach of individual organisations to assumptions on the scale of development.

With one exception [43] each party proposed significantly larger massing than indicated within Camden’s Planning Brief, in some cases over double.

Either as a result of early consultation with the GLA or on the advice of planning consultants the interviewees proposed comparatively tall buildings (some 20 stories plus) along the eastern side of the site opposite the station but with much lower structures to Ossulston Street respecting the rights of light of the residents.

[43] and [43] who had both spoken with representatives of the GLA claim feedback to the effect this site is regarded by the Mayors Office as highly strategic and that comparatively high density development would be not only encouraged but required.

In terms of Camden Planners. the focus of future consultation would in most cases be restricted to the orientation of the scheme, mix of uses and issues such as public open space.

As agreed interviewed parties were encouraged to engage in early consultation with Camden and local interest groups.

Several organisations indicated they would wish to seek an early planning consultation but none considered it would be appropriate to engage with local interest groups until a sale had been completed.

EVALUATION OF PROPOSALS

A simplified scoring format was adopted compared to the one used for the initial assessment of expressions of interest.

Proposal were considered in relation to the following three primary factors:

Level of financial bid

50% of scoring was attributed to the level of the financial proposal which ranged from £65m to £105m.

This is significantly higher than the initial scoring level although as discussed with John we believe that determining value for the taxpayer should to a large extent relate to financial benefit in this particular case.

Also as discussed with John no marks have been attributed with reference to finding or financial rating as only organisations already able to demonstrate sufficient resource have been considered.

Overage/clawback

10% was awarded to the interviewee’s position on overage and clawback.

Most organisations made it clear they intended to build out the scheme rather than sell and were happy to accept clawback provisions involving 50% of any uplift (after holding and other costs) would be paid if the site is sold prior to obtaining a specific planning consent.

With overage, proposals varied considerably with each organisation willing to a greater or lesser extent to consider overage proposals based on the amount of accommodation for which planning consent is obtained above a benchmark, some on uniform basis and others with exclusions.

Reductions relating to the element of affordable.’ social housing.

Several organisations made specific proposals based on an amount per sq ft While others simply indicated their willingness to entertain any reasonable proposals you wish to impose.

Marks were awarded with reference to the following:

• The extent to which a specific proposal had been made and the level of that proposal. • General attitude to the principal [sic] of overage/clawback.

• The scale of development proposals. On this last point organisations proposing particularly large developments were marked low given the limited prospect for overage becoming payable while those with materially smaller schemes were attributed generally higher marks.

Deliverability

40% of the marks were attributed to deliverability. This was judged with reference to an amalgam of following aspects:

• Our assessment of the level of commitment of each organisation to completing a purchase.

• How they are funded (higher risk attributed to those dependent on ‘debt’ rather than ‘equity’) and the track record of completing on purchases of a similar scale without the benefit of a specific planning consent.

• The risk of development proposals not being supported upon further investigation leading to a reduction in bid level, prior to completion of a sale.

• The quality of scheme proposals.

• In ease of joint ventures, previous current experience of working together.

In the latter respect appropriate time was allotted to the consideration of individual scheme proposals.

All bidders could demonstrate significant consideration had been given to development proposals, including indicative plans, drawings and in one case [43] a model.

With the exception of The Partnership all proposals revolve around mixed use schemes ranging from 50:50 commercial/residential to others that had very limited commercial but a more significant proportion of student, hotel or other non commercial uses.

Other than in relation to massing all proposals could be argued to be broadly in line with the planning brief.

RESULTS

Using the scoring system described before the results are shown as per the original order in the first attachment and summarised as follows: On the left is the weighted score out of a maximum. of 100 points and alongside in brackets is the level of financial bid.

Score (Financial bid)

[43]75% (£102m)

[43]86% (£105m)

[43]56% (£81m)

[43]64% (£91m)

[43]19% (£65m)

[43]34% (£65m)

[43]68% (£90m)

[43]67% (£103m)

[43]22% (£75m)

Note by RH: all shortlisted bidder names chosen from those expressing an interest  redacted.

Shortly after the interview with [43] a revised financial bid of £lO3m was received as a result of input from their new commercial partner. On the basis the interviews held are integral to the selection process our recommendation is to allow this and the revised figure has been scored compared to the original financial bid of £71m Given the weighting in favour of price ti is not surprising the results are closely aligned. A summary of the main points arising out each interview is being prepared for your further background information and will be supplied shortly.

 RECOMMENDATION

The Partnership (This is UKCRMI)

The financial bid of The Partnership is at too low a level for the Consortium to be recommended for shortlisting on a commercial basis.

They have confirmed this is their best financial offer.


The full list of bidders

February 11, 2011
3 Comments

The information below was extracted from data released under the FOIA by the DCMS. There were 27 bidders (other documents suggest 28 bidders but none list the bidders).  With regard to the Camden planning brief the breakdown was:

 12 definitely complied with planning brief

 1  appeared to comply with planning brief

 7  did not  comply with planning brief (This includes UKCRMI)

 4  It was impossible to tell from the information provided

 2 No opinion was stated

 1 was an indeterminate comment (Thornsett Group)

Those meeting the planning brief included obvious serious players such as Redrow, Barratt Homes and Wimpey. Therefore, the DCMS cannot claim that there was no realistic chance of selling to a bidder who met the planning brief.

The bidders

1. Development Securities Plc  and Granger Plc (JV)

2. Oracle Group  

3. Minerva 

4 Tudorvale properties

5. City Lofts Group   

6.. Thornsett Group plc/CIT Group plc 

7. Terrace Hill Group plc  

8. The Partnership/ Cancer Research UK/Medical Research Council/The Wellcome Trust – this is UKCRMI

9. Henderson Global Investors (With First Base/ Notting Hill Housing Association).

10. First Regeneration Homes/  Princeton Investments Ltd/Tiger Developments Ltd

11. Splendid Hotel Group

12. Pantherlee Ltd  

13. Barratt Homes 

14. The Merchant Property Group/Capital and Counties

15. Redrow Regeneration ( Commercial partner – Commercial Estates Group)

16. Bee Bee Developments Ltd

17. Leander   

18. City & Docklands/ Scarborough Development Group (JV)

19. Taylor Wimpey Development London Region. Partnered by Bride Hall Developments

20. Criterion Capital Ltd

21. Places for People (RSL)  

22. Landmark Developers with The Ability Group

23. Marcol Group/Nicholas James Group Ltd

24. Community Housing Association  

25. Coexist Foundation  

26. St James Group (Berkley Group)

27. London and Regional  Holdings Ltd   

I attempted unsuccessfully to obtain from the DCMS the names of those who made it to the short list of nine (the names were withheld on the grounds of commercial confidentiality).


No 10 ‘interfered to push through £600m plan for virus superlab’

January 20, 2011
1 Comment
London Evening Standard
  
Mark Blunden
20 Jan 2011

Campaigners against a maximum security “superlab” in the heart of London are calling for a parliamentary inquiry claiming that there was political interference in the bidding process.

The UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation, behind the British Library in St Pancras, will be capable of containing flu viruses, malaria, tuberculosis, cancer cells and HIV.

Residents living close to the centre are calling for an inquiry into the £600 million project after Cabinet Office emails, seen by the Standard, revealed that the previous government was keen to “make it happen” before the tendering process had closed.

They also claim Camden council failed to inform residents fully of the severity of the diseases to be tested at the 3.6 acre site and is stonewalling their questions.

Today, it can be revealed that in July 2007, Jeremy Heywood, a Cabinet Office civil servant, emailed officials, including the Department of Health and the Chief Scientific Officer, stating: “The PM (Gordon Brown) is very keen to make sure the government departments are properly co-ordinated on this project – and that if there is a consensus that this is indeed an exciting project, then we do what we can to make it happen.”

The email, released under the Freedom of Information Act, was sent the week before the first bids were due in and six weeks before the shortlist was finalised.

Other documents reveal that among 27 competing proposals for the site were a multi-faith centre and hundreds of affordable homes in a borough with 18,000 people on its housing waiting list. Both of these proposals complied with Camden’s brief for the site, but it is alleged the superlab initially did not.

Resident Robert Henderson, a retired civil servant, 63, said: “Camden went against their own original plan for a mixed-use development.

“There’s been political interference with the bidding process as well as the grave security issues. There should be a parliamentary inquiry because £250 million of public money is at stake.”

Read more at

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23915802-no-10-interfered-to-push-through-pound-600m-plan-for-virus-superlab.do

Letter sent to Evening Standard 21 Jan 2011
 
Sir,
 
I can expand upon Mark Blunden’s report “No 10 ‘interfered to push through £600m plan for virus superlab'” (20 Jan) .  
I am the person who obtained the evidence of Brown’s interference using the FOIA. I have a mass of documents showing that Brown was pressing for the sale to UKCMRI before the formal  bidding process had ended and afterwards before a formal decision was made. Here is an example of the documents: 

  Sent: 27 November 2007 13:09

To: HOLGATE NICHOLAS

Cc: _[40]_____________

Subject: RESTRICTED – Land to the North

 Hi Nicholas,

 Jonathan spoke to Jeremy Heywood this morning. Jeremy said he needed the bid to be agreed by next Wednesday – 5 Dec (or Thursday latest) as PM wanted to get MRC in then (or possible public announcement.

Jonathan explained that there are two issues from our point of view: .No revised formal offer has been received by DCMS .HMT are not being helpful of recycling returns – without an improved offer from HMT JS said it would he v hard to justify.

JR said he thought the offer was sent to us yesterday – have checked but nothing in JSs post or email – JH will chase. JH also said he would go back to HMT to see what  more they can do, but that ultimately PM may have to arbitrate.

 Cheers

 Private Secretary  to Jonathan StephensDepartment for (Culture, Media and Sport 2-4 Cockpur Street, London SWlY) 

  This was a public bidding process. The decision was supposed to rest with the the Minister heading the DCMS. Brown as Prime Minister should have played no role in the decision. There were 28 bidders of whom 9 were placed on the short list. It would be interesting to know how they feel about the conduct of the bid.

  

Yours sincerely,

  

Robert Henderson


A list of the bidders for the Brill Place site

January 6, 2011
Leave a Comment

The information below was extracted from data released under the FOIA by the DCMS. Unfortunately, they provided this on sheets of A3 with the data spread across the longer side of the paper. Hence, it was impossible to scan it into a computer document in any useful form. Consequently, I have copy-typed the details of the names of the bidders, their compliance with the Camden  planning brief and the type of development proposed. I have left the DCMS wording intact. Please note that the documents the DCMS supplied are a shoddy piece of work with  gaps in the information provided, an inconsistency of  treatment and some unexplained abbreviations. In addition, the words “No details beyond the area of the plan” are my addition to clarify the position.

The list is of all the bidders who expressed an initial interest.  This  was whittled down to a short list of 9 from which UKMRI were selected. The DCMS has refused to release the names of those on the short list.

There were 27 bidders. With regard to the planning brief the breakdown was:

12 comply with the Camden planning brief 

1 appears to comply with planning brief

7  do not comply with planning brief

4 failed to provide enough information to make a judgement

2  resulted in no opinion stated

1 indeterminate comment (Thornsett Group)

Those meeting the planning brief  included obvious serious players such as Redrow, Barratt Homes and  Wimpey.  Therefore, the DCMS cannot claim that there was no realistic chance of selling to a bidder who met the planning brief.

The bidders, their proposed developments  and whether these met the planning brief

Securities Plc  and Granger Plc (JV)

No details beyond the area of plan  – 713,374 sq ft

Complied with planning guidance? No

2. Oracle Group                       

No details beyond the area of the plan 450,000 sq ft

Complied with planning guidance? Yes

3.Minerva                             

No details beyond the area of the plan – 750,000 gross

Complied with planning guidance? No

4 .Tudorvale properties               

Not stated (scheme does assume development of  720 flats and 650 studios for students)

Complied with planning guidance? Not stated

5. City Lofts Group                    

No details beyond the area of the plan – 434,466 sq ft

Complied with planning guidance? Yes

6. Thornsett Group plc/CIT Group plc

                                          2 Schemes

                                        Bridge Scheme

                                        Residential – 206k sq ft

                                        Office/Hotel – 190k sq ft

                                        Retail – 57 k sq ft

                                        Community – 15k sq ft

                                        Tower Scheme

                                        Residential – 320k sq ft

                                        Office/Hotel – 204k  sq ft

                                        Retail – 55k sq ft

                                        Office/Leisure – 51k sq ft

                                        Community – 29k sq ft

                                        Total 667k sq ft

                                        ‘Outreach facility ‘ for the British Library

Complied with planning guidance? Not stated

7. Terrace Hill Group plc            

Office – 286k sq ft            

Student – 108k sq ft

Residential (social) – 83k sq ft

Residential (private) – 77k sq ft

                                Total –  536k sq ft

Larger 677,000 sq ft potential scheme illustrated

Complied with planning guidance? Yes

8. The Partnership/ Cancer Research UK/Medical Research Council/The Wellcome Trust

No details beyond area of  plan –720,761 sq ft

Complied with planning guidance? No

9. Henderson Global Investors  (With First Base/ Notting Hill Housing Association).

No details beyond area of  plan –720,761 sq ft

Complied with planning guidiance? No

10. First Regeneration Homes/ Princeton Investments Ltd/ Tiger Developments Ltd

No details beyond area of  plan –972,946 sq ft (gross external)

Complied with planning guidance? No

11. Splendid Hotel Group               

837, 014 sq ft

50% Hotel/Offices

25% private housing

25% social housing

Complied with planning guidance? Not stated

12. Pantherlee Ltd                            

No details beyond area of  plan – 650,000 sq ft gross

Complied with planning guidance? No

13. Barratt Homes                            

No details beyond area of  plan –352,903  sq ft (NIA)

Complied with planning guidiance? Yes

14. The Merchant Property Group/Capital and Counties    

Not stated

Complied with planning guidance? Cannot tell from info provided

15. Redrow Regeneration    Commercial partner –  Commercial Estates Group

452,438 sq ft   50% residential, 46% offices ,4% mixed use

Complied with planning guidance? Yes

16. Bee Bee Developments Ltd         

No details beyond area of  plan – 330,00 net sq ft

Complied with planning guidance? Yes

17. Leander                                             

Commercial – 180k sq ft

Residential  –   180 sq ft (50:50 private/affordable)

Total 360k sq ft

Complied with planning guidance? Yes

18. City  & Docklands/Scarborough Development Group (JV)

Scheme not stated

Complied with planning guidance? Cannot confirm from info provided

19. Taylor Wimpey Development    London Region. Partnered by  Bride Hall Developments           

Residential (affordable) – 83k sq ft

Residential (private) – 97k sq ft

Student – 21k sq ft

Retail 41k sq ft

Office – 50k sq ft

Hotel – 55k sq ft

 Total 347k sq ft

 Enhanced scheme 415,000 sq ft

Complied with planning guidance? Yes

20. Criterion Capital Ltd              

3 x hotel towers  (21 storeys  ) 676 rooms                                                             

2 x residential blocks – 592k sq ft

Complied with planning guidance? No

21. Places for People (RSL)         

Up to 40 storeys

550 dwellings (350-400 per hectare)

50% affordable homes,

70% of which would be “affordable rent”   (should  be social rent)

 160,000 sq ft of commercial space

Complied with planning guidance? Yes

22. Landmark Developers with  Ability Group  `    

628,180 (GIA) sq ft

10 storeys

50%  Residential

50% retail/office/hotel

Complied with planning guidance? Yes

23. Marcol Group/Nicholas James Group Ltd            

No details beyond area of  plan – 486,800 sq ft

Complied with planning guidance? appears to

24. Community Housing   Association

Scheme unknown

Complied with planning guidance? Cannot tell from info provided

25. Coexist Foundation                 

No details beyond area of  plan – 440,893 (GEA) sq ft

Intending to create a world class centre for Judaism  Christianity and Islam

Complied with planning guidance? Yes

26. St James Group (Berkley Group)                                                                  

Area of plan 508,351 sq ft

54% Residential/46% Commercial (hotels/offices)

Gymnasium/swimming pool/public open spaces

Complied with planning guidance? Yes

 27. London and Regional  Holdings Ltd

No details beyond area of  plan – 568,200 sq ft

Complied with planning guidance? Cannot tell from info provided


    Calendar

    June 2017
    M T W T F S S
    « Dec    
     1234
    567891011
    12131415161718
    19202122232425
    2627282930  

    Search