The United Kingdom Centre for Medical Research and Innovation

Links to all UKCRMI blog posts

November 11, 2012
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Just click on the post title and it will take you to that post
The new leader of the Greens knows how to keep mum
MPs back £660million medical research superlab
UKCRMI to become The Francis Crick Institute
MPs back £660million medical research superlab
New Scientist reports on the Science and Technology Committee’s reservations about UKCRMI’s location
Notification of the contamination of the bidding process to the lead contractor
O’Rourke wins prized £350m superlab contract
Report and commentary on the STC hearing of 2nd March 2011
The failed bidders notified that the bidding process was a sham
Gordon Brown’s involvement in the sale of the land to UKCRMI
Science and Technology Committee – Evidence from ministers about UKCRMI
Report and commentary on the STC hearing of 16 February 2011
Report and commentary on the STC hearing of 9 February 2011
Choosing the short list of bidders
The full list of bidders
Science and Technology Committee – Next UKCRMI evidence
Science and Technology Committee 9 February 2011
No 10 ‘interfered to push through £600m plan for virus superlab’
Notification of planning irregularities to Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson gives the go-ahead to UKCMRI laboratory
My submission to the Science and Technology Committee has been accepted
Camden’s response to my notification of planning permission irregularities
A list of the bidders for the Brill Place site
Letter submitted to the Camden New Journal 2 January 2011
Correspondence with Councillors about the vote
How councillors voted on the UKCMRI planning application
Councillors asked directly about who voted and how
The Evening Standard on security
Which councillors voted which way?
Challenge to the granting of planning permision
Objection to UKCMRI planning application for a research centre in Brill Place London NW1
Objection to planning application supporting documents
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UKCRMI to become The Francis Crick Institute

June 7, 2011
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Cancer Research UK

Cancer News

UKCMRI to be renamed The Francis Crick Institute

Thursday 26 May 2011

The UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation (UKCMRI), a world-class biomedical research institute planned for central London, is to be re-named The Francis Crick Institute in honour of one of the nation’s greatest scientists.

Construction work on the institute will formally start in early July and the change of name will coincide with this milestone.

Professor Crick, who lived from 1916 to 2004, is best known for the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA in 1953, alongside James Watson and collaborator Maurice Wilkins.

The trio were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for their work on “the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material”.

His name will be adopted as the permanent name of the UKCMRI, reflecting the centre’s vision to create a world-leading facility for medical science and innovation in London’s St Pancras.

The institute will initially build on the skills and research institutes of the MRC National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) and Cancer Research UK’s London Research Institute (LRI). University College London and the Wellcome Trust are founding partners and King’s College London and Imperial College London have signalled their intention to join the partnership.

As well as driving the development of treatments and methods for the prevention of cancer, the Francis Crick Institute will also have research programmes on circulatory conditions, infectious diseases, immune system disorders, and neurodegeneration and regeneration.

Read more at

http://info.cancerresearchuk.org/news/archive/cancernews/2011-05-26-UKCMRI-to-be-renamed-The-Francis-Crick-Institute-

 

 

 

 

 


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Report and commentary on the STC hearing of 16 February 2011

February 18, 2011
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HoC Science and Technology Committee (STC)

 Thatcher Room

Committee members present:  Andrew Miller (Chair)  Labour , Gavin Barwell  Conservative, Stephen Metcalfe  Conservative , David Morris  Conservative, Stephen Mosley  Conservative, Pamela Nash  Labour , Graham Stringer  Labour, Roger Williams, Liberal Democrats 

Evidence given  on Wednesday 16 February between  at 9.18am and 10.40 am

Evidence taken from the UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation (UKCRMI)

UKCRMI Witnesses

Sir Paul Nurse, Chief Executive and Director

Sir David Cooksey GBE, Chairman

John Cooper, Chief Operating Officer, UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation

Replay the evidence at http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Main/Player.aspx?meetingId=7703&player=silverlight

Declaration of interest

A committee member, Gavin Barwell,  made a declaration of interest , namely,  he is paired with Sir Paul Nurse’s daughter Emily in the MP pairing scheme of the Royal Society. Details of the scheme can be found at http://royalsociety.org/General_WF.aspx?pageid=7277&terms=MP+pairing+scheme&fragment=&SearchType=&terms=MP pairing scheme

Dearie  me, what a coincidence that one of the committee should be paired with the daughter of the head of UKCRMI.

The general conduct of the evidence

There was a good deal of duplication of the material which was covered in the evidence given on 9 February.  I have concentrated only on new material both where a subject was not raised previously or where a subject was raised but something new was added .

Paul Nurse did most of the talking for UKCRMI, probably as much as 75%.

 The evidence given  fell primarily under the heading of waffle.  The air was filled with the type of meaningless beloved of the Great and the Good:  “most exciting biomedical initiative for a generation”   in Britain; the rest of the world look on the project with Envy”; “rhe project is the envy of the world”; “attracting the best from around the world””, “creating an area of brilliance” and “Brilliant people” . You get the idea.

The vast majority of the waffle – perhaps 85% –   was delivered by Paul Nurse in what I will admit was an engaging manner, but it was still waffle.

The MRC Business Case

At the previous meeting, the head of MRC John Savill, had revealed that the business case had been accepted by BUS but that as yet he had no details of any conditions the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) might have imposed  along with the acceptance. Very convenient because it meant that he could not be questioned about the detail of the acceptance.  As of yesterday, the committee has not received a copy of the business plan.

Under questioning, Cooper conceded that there were conditions imposed by BIS when they accepted  the MRC’s business case.  However, he  refused to say what  they were because he was unsure of the position with regard to business confidentiality.  He assured the committee “That none of those conditions have given me cause for concern”.   Incredibly, the  STC failed to press him on this matter, they did not  insist on the forwarding of BIS  approval letter  to the STC .  The first rule of investigation is simple: if someone does not want you to see a something, that is something you need to see.  

This episode was the most significant  thing to come out of the hearing.  There is something there which is either more significant than Cooper admits and/or strikes at the general raison d’etre for the siting of the laboratory in central London.

The position of Paul Nurse

There was concern expressed by the STC that  Nurse might not be able to give his all to  the job of UKCRMI CEO  because of his other commitments.  Nurse said his position was as follows:

–          He works “quite hard” (RH comment  I kid you not, he actually said this).

–          He has resigned from his post at Rockefeller University,  although he is continuing  to act for them until his successor takes over in March 2011. 

–          His position at the Royal Society is part-time.

–          He  remains a functioning research scientist and is presently arranging for his (personal) Rockefeller laboratory to be transferred to England.

–          Until the  laboratory was built, his role with UKCRMI would not involve operational decisions, merely planning ones.

–          He had great confidence in the rest of his management team to support him.

In the light of these considerations, Nurse said he was certain he could fulfil the role of CEO.  Unfortunately, the STC left it at that.  I think anyone might have doubts about Nurse’s  ability to give  enough time and concentration to managing a highly complex scheme whilst doing his own research and heading the Royal Society, a post which involves a fair bit of media work, speaking and general representation of the society, some of it abroad.  I suspect that John Cooper will be the  man really running the show.

Nurse has a contract for 5 years (the delivery of the facility) renewable at the discretion of the UKCRMI board for another 5 years (operational time).

Once the new laboratory  is up and running,  Nurse said he would be charge of allocating resources. 

At various points in the evidence  Nurse accepted “ultimate responsibility”  for the success of the project, both in its building and operational  outcomes when built, and for security.

The origins of the UKCRMI scheme

Nurse claimed he was its progenitor, having hatched the idea in 1999 when he was working for CR-UK. Nothing came of the idea at that time and it was not until 2004 that he became involved again, this time with the Medical Research Council.

One point of interest did come out of this passage of the evidence. Nurse said that in 1999 he was thinking in terms of siting the joint-venture in the Millennium Dome.  This undermines further the claim that the  site has to be in central London to get the benefit of the “cluster effect”.

Cost of the building

The STC again expressed concern over the cost of the building. UKCRMI countered this pointing out the buildings’ likely longevity (Nurse said 60-80 years, Cooper 50-60 years). Nurse also claimed that its initial  cost (£650 million for the building and £65 million for the equipment) represented only 3 or 4 years operational costs.  This did not quite square with the £100 million  base running costs pa plus perhaps £15 million for other sources which Nurse anticipated.

Cooper attempted to make the figures square by saying the £650 million covered the purchase of the land (£85 million), work in kind undertaken by Cancer-UK  and professional fees.  He put the cost of building at £400m+  not £650 million. This was something of damp squib because however the money was spent, it was still spent.

Cooper put the lifespan of the laboratory at 50-60 years; Paul Nurse thought it would be 60-80 years.

Delivery on time and within cost

Cooper said that a contingency for inflation was built into the costing. This happened “a year to 18 months ago.” He was not vulgar enough to say what this figure was,  but assured the committee it was in line with the way inflation had played out since the contingency was set.  No one on the committee pressed him further.

After a good deal of unseemly preening by both Cooper and Nurse about how they had previously run such projects successfully,  Nurse admitted there was no plan B if the project ran into severe cost or time overruns.

Cooper had a nasty moment when he admitted that a project he had run had experience problems, but when questioned about this he said it had not been a project he had been involved with from the outset.

The laboratories at Mill Hill (NIMR) and Lincoln’s Inn (CR-UK)

Nurse claimed that Mill Hill  (built in the 1930s) was on the verge of   obsolescence and Lincoln’s Inn (built in the 1950s) would be within the next ten years.  He attributed this to their age.  The committee failed to ask for details of why they were obsolescent or why they could not be renovated.

The problem for UKCRMI  with this stance  is that even if what Nurse says is true, a new laboratory could be built on the Mill Hill site to house both existing laboratories (plus the Clare Laboratory – see below).  It is no argument for moving the laboratories to Brill Place.

The size of the proposed laboratory

Cooper said it would measure 90,000 square metres externally and 83,000 metres internally.  

Why must the laboratory be in central London?

An already  weak case was weakened  further by Nurse’s comment that he had thought of putting such a research laboratory in the Millennium Dome and the fact (not mentioned in last week’s evidence) that Cancer-UK laboratory at Clare Hall near  Potters Bar (Hertfordshire) was part of UKCRMI and would remain in operation to house some of the animals used by UKCRMI.  (Potters Bar is around 9 miles from Kings Cross; Mill Hill around 6 and a half miles. )

Nurse completely  let the cat out of the bag  when he said that young scientists would not come to the UKCRMI laboratory unless it was in central London because quote “They like central London. That’s the way it is. They don’t want to live in Mill Hill”.

This raises a very interesting point. Nurse said that when the Laboratory was up and running there would be 250 postgraduate scientists and 500 post-doctoral  scientists working there which would constitute the large  majority of the scientific staff.  Their ages would be between 21-34.  Scientists  are not generally well paid and young scientists are almost invariably on mediocre salaries. How on earth would these people be able to afford to live in central London? Shock horror! They will probably have to live in places such as Mill Hill.

Nurse also improbably claimed that being at Mill Hill added an hour or more to journeys  to other parts of the UK compared with a site in central London. The train journey between Mill Hill and St Pancras takes 17 minutes. 

Nurse’s final throw of the dice on this subject was to claim that using a site such as Mill Hill made it impossible to get the interaction between people from different disciplines. This will come as a shock to those working at Mill Hill because the NIMR website lists this research:

Research groups by theme

Biophysics

Biochemistry

Cancer

Chromosome biology

Cell biology

Evolutionary biology

Developmental biology

Immunity

Genetics and genomics

Neurosciences

Mathematical biology

Physiology and metabolism

Systems biology

Stem cell biology

Structural biology

Infectious disease

http://www.nimr.mrc.ac.uk/

Several members of the committee asked why the site had to be in London  at all and suggested that it could have been placed in places such as Birmingham or Manchester.  Nurse  said it was impracticable because it would be seen as provincial and consequently would not be a magnet for all the “best and the brightest” he was so keen to attract.

 Near the end of the session, Graham Stringer (Labour) suggested that the plan to put the laboratory in central London seemed to be a case of “the great and the good” deciding that this is where it should be and then post hoc framing the  arguments for its siting there rather than elsewhere.  Nurse vehemently denied this.  

Biohazard Levels

Nurse stated categorically that no Level 4 work would be done  on the site because any  level 4 work  would be undertaken elsewhere. This did not clarify the position on the mysterious 3+ biosecurity level which appears to have no formal sanction. If all the work is to be at Level 3, why the need for the 3+ security level?  Unfortunately, the STC made no attempt to ferret out what level 3+ means.

Security

Nurse said that UKCRMI intended to recruit the “brightest and best” from around the world. This has security implications because anyone born abroad or has lived abroad for a long time cannot in the nature of things be meaningfully security vetted.  The fact that these will be scientists does not mean they cannot be terrorists, vide the NHS  doctors who attempted to bomb Glasgow airport.  

No one on the committee raised this point

Animals

Nurse said it would 99% mice,  plus a few rats, fish and flies.   The Clare Hall Laboratory will continue to house many of the mice.

Staff careers

Nurse anticipates young researchers being recruited, spending 12 years at UKCRMI before carrying   UKCRMI projects and working methods to other research bodies.    Nurse also floated the idea that when they did leave UKCRMI, researchers would be allowed to take  for free the equipment they were  using for their experiments at UKCRMI plus funding for a year to carry on their research. The idea of this is that it would “seed”  the new work and ideas at different institutions.

Intellectual property rights

Cooper said that although  the rights would be held by the UKCRMI board,  it was unlikely they would produce much money.  This  judgement he based on the experience of other institutions engaged in scientific research.  Nurse backed him up.

Nurse said the arrangements for intellectual property rights for scientists remained to be negotiated.

Liaison with local residents

Cooper claimed that 11 significant changes had been made to the design of the building as a result of discussions with the local residents. He did not elaborate. 

Cooper said that three liaison groups were to be set up for: 

–          The period of construction

–          For proposed living centre

–          General matters

It is noteworthy that at no time has UKCRMI made any offer of compensation for disturbance to the local residents who will be directly affected by years of building work and the associated problems generated by transporting people and materials to and from the site.  That is a pretty strong pointer that they do not give a damn about the residents.

General comment

The committee was generally much less sharp in their questioning than the week before , although Stephen Metcalf again asked difficult questions and had some idea of how to build a line of questioning. Nonetheless, there were a number of disturbing incidences of not pushing very obvious matters such as the details of the BIS approval letter’s conditions.  I cannot really believe that this happened simply because of the inadequacy of the committee members. Rather, it suggests they have either been warned off causing trouble or are simply doing so off their own bat.

 (For those unfamiliar with Commons Committees a little bit of information. The members of a committee do not just ask what they want. They are each allocated a topic to question upon. The allocation is made by the committee clerk. This can make the questioning seem rather stilted as questions which naturally flow from points raised are dropped by the member because they do not come within his allotted area.)

If this committee does not recommend the project I shall very surprised .


How councillors voted on the UKCMRI planning application

December 23, 2010
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Only one councillor (Andrew Marshall) has confirmed to me that they voted in favour of the planning application. Credit to him,  but I really wish the other seven who voted in favour had been willing to identify themselves. If you vote for unpopular measures, you should at least have the courage of your convictions and stand up for them in public.

Notwithstanding the failure of all but one of those who voted in favour  to identify themselves, by a mixture of subtraction of those know to have voted and a little help from friends,  I think I now have the correct vote breakdown, viz:

Those voting against

Claire-Louise Leyland, Conservative (Belsize)

Paul Braithwaite, Liberal Democrat (Cantelowes)

Sean Birch, Labour (Gospel Oak)

Matt Sanders, Liberal Democrat (Haverstock).

 Those voting  for

Milena Nuti, Labour (Bloomsbury)

Sue Vincent, Labour (Holborn and Covent Garden)

Sarah Hayward, Labour (King’s Cross)

Roger Freeman, Conservative (Swiss Cottage)

Heather Johnson, Labour (Regent’s Park)

Andrew Marshall, Conservative (Swiss Cottage)

Gillian Risso-Gill, Liberal Democrat (West Hampstead)

Jenny Headlam-Wells, Labour (Kentish Town).

 Those abstaining

Flick Rea, Liberal Democrat (Fortune Green)

Those present but failing to register any vote (including failing to abstain)

Thomas Neuwark,  Labour (Camden Town with Primrose Hill)

Absent

Georgia Gould, Labour (Kentish Town)

Valerie Leach, Labour  (Highgate)

If any of these identifications are wrong please let me know.

NB I have moved Cllr Leach on her advice from being present but not voting to absent.

On the general subject of  councillors votes being recorded,  it  is essential that votes be recorded and made easily accessible to the public because otherwise judgements of councillors cannot be made.  It is rather shocking that it is not done.


Objection to planning application supporting documents

December 16, 2010
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Document 1

Extracts from the DCMS’ “Somerstown St Pancras A New Chapter”

Page 8

PLANNING

Local Planning Policy Context

The site comprising the British Library and DCMS land, in total about 7.4 acres, is referred to in the Land Use Proposals schedule of the 2006 Adopted Camden UDI and the Midland Road Planning Brief 2003.

These provide relatively up to date Development Plan policy guidance, and interpretation of policy in respect of the Planning Brief, which whilst approved prior to the replacement UDP 2006, has remained consistent with it, and is endorsed by the UDP as Supplementary Planning Guidance.

The Planning Brief identifies the previous split of ownerships and control, being approximately 4 acres of land owned by DCMS, of which 1.3 acres was leased to the British Library, leaving a 2.7 acre site in temporary use for the CTRL construction site, and about 3.4 acres of British Library owned land, including the Tank Farm, and site for the Conservation Centre which has now been built.

The overall objectives of the Planning brief seek to realise the full potential of the site, being opposite the Eurostar terminal and King’s Cross development and also to achieve a comprehensive approach where the development of every part is compatible with the vision of the whole, and is of the highest quality.

The Land Use Proposals schedule of the UDF and the Planning Brief, encourage British Library related development (achieved via the ‘land swap’), and a mixed use development on the reminder of the site with a priority for residential, which should be at least 50% of the new floor area created (excluding British Library floorspace), and of that, at least 50% affordable housing. Office uses, and ground floor retail and active frontages are encouraged for the Midland road frontage. Community uses are also encouraged, including an area of open space, the location of which is shown indicatively in the Planning Brief.

Building lines are to respect the existing British Library buildings, with a set back to follow the buildings opposite on Ossulston Street, involving 5 floors of development. However taller building& may be justified if they respect the locality and adjacent Conservation Areas and Listed Buildings, and the St Paul’s Heights Background Consultation Area which affects the western part of the site.

Proposals should have regard to pedestrian linkages to the wider area and permeability, including the potential Cross River Tram stop. Home Zones’ areas are encouraged, and minimal parking provision is sought, including potentially car free housing.

Development Potential

Camden Borough Council will consider the development potential of the site with regard to the Camden UDP policies and proposals, and the  supplementary guidance from the Midland Road Planning Brief.

However, the policies of the London Plan, and National Planning Policy guidance will also be taken into account. Dependent on the nature of proposals, these may be of a type and scale, which are referable to the Mayor.

On the basis of the local planning policy guidance, the land outside of  that to be retained for British Library use, has clearly defined potential for a significant mixed-use development. As a starting point the local planning policy guidance could support a scheme of approximately 50:50 commercial and residential development with approximately 50% affordable housing.

The built envelope for development is determined effectively by the building lines along the site frontage, and with potential for full site coverage, other than for open space and surfaced areas, and with indicative heights of 5 floors of development.

However, given the strategic importance of the location adjacent to Kings Cross/St. Pancras Stations there is considerable scope for high density development. In this respect there is potential for tall buildings on the east side of site outside of the St. Paul’s Heights restrictions subject to suitable quality of design, site constraints

The indicative scheme prepared by EPR Architects reflects the stated planning guidance of offices with retail and residential. Outside of St Paul’s height restrictions, a taller commercial building is proposed in line with an intensification of uses encouraged within the London Plan.

Other uses will be considered by the planning authority having regard to quality of design, public realm, accessibility, permeability issues etc.

Page 14 

TENURE AND DIRECTIONS ON EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST

Tenure

The site is to be sold freehold by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). Upon completion a lease will be granted back to DCMS for the period until end August 2008 when vacant possession of the site will be available.

Union Railways

Union Railways (UR) is the operating company of London and Continental Railways.

Various arrangements applicable to the site are as follows:

Midland Road

UR have an obligation to reinstate Midland Road in accordance with highway drawings shown on the website.

UR will shortly be lodging a planning application in relation to detailed proposals for works relating to pavements and other matters.

Vacation of the site

An agreement will be entered into with UR formalising arrangements for their vacation of the site.

The main aspects involved are as follows:

• An obligation to maintain the substantial wall fronting Ossulston Street and Brill Place (it should be noted the local planning authority has verbally confirmed the wall itself is of little material interest in planning terms and that an application for its demolition is likely to be acceptable).

• Portakabins and all other structures above ground together with temporary services are to be removed with the exception of one portakabin for security purposes.

• The site to be left in a tidy condition.

• Arrangements for handing over of lighting and CCTV apparatus for security purposes to be controlled from a site hut.

Methods of sale

The disposal of this development site will be handled in two stages. Initially ‘expressions of interest’ are invited, direction on which is provided later.

It is most likely a shortlist of purchasers will be selected to progress to the second stage and invited to make a formal financial proposal by the end of September.

DCMS reserves its position in relation to the following matters:

• The right to deal with one party following expressions of interest (stage one).

• While it is expected the decision on shortlisting and the selection of a purchaser will be based primarily on price DCMS reserves a right to accept a price that does not represent the highest financial bid.

• DCMS also reserves the right not to accept any bid.

In terms of conditionality, DCMS will not entertain any proposals that are conditional upon obtaining planning consent or involve reference to any third party matters.

Government guidelines dictate that arrangements will need to be included that provide for overage or clawback payments, if appropriate.

Expressions of interest

Detailed arrangements in relation to expressions of interest are to be published in due course, but will include the following:

• Full details of the proposed purchaser in terms of their constitution, track record, financial strength and the key individuals involved.

• Where the purchaser is a consortium these details will be required in relation to each member of the consortium.

• Details of the principal consultants.

• Confirmation of likely funding arrangements and availability.

• Indicative proposals for the site, including reference to mix of uses and density massing.

• Development programme/timetable.

• Indicative purchase price.

• Any unusual or special factors that should be taken into account.

Prospective purchasers are encouraged to focus on the quality rather than quantity of their submission.

Timetable

Expressions of interest should be submitted in a sealed envelope to either joint agent by 5pm on Thursday 2nd

August 2007.

Selected parties may be called to interview before confirmation of the stage two shortlist and will then be invited to make a formal detailed proposal by late September 2007.

Caveat

The information contained within these sales particulars is designed to assist purchasers in understanding the site’s development potential. It should be noted studies undertaken by consultants are of a preliminary nature and as such no warranty is offered, nor should the information be relied upon. 

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Document 2

Camden New Journal

Camden News – by PAUL KEILTHY

Published: 31 July 2008

 Superlab developers slammed

THE Medical Research Council (MRC) has been accused of acting “like

property speculators” after blocking plans to turn a derelict hospital site into social housing. The MRC, which owns the National Temperance Hospital in Hampstead Road, Euston, has reac­ted angrily to suggestions from council planners that the site is suitable to be turned into new homes. As a planning brief for land around Euston station was discussed by senior councillors at a meeting last Wednesday, the MRC said it wants to “keep its options open”. Campaigners hoped the hospital would be given over to housing in compensation for the MRC’s decision to break previous council plans for homes on the 3.6-acre Brill Place site in Somers Town, where it plans to build a £500million “superlab” researching cancer and infectious diseases. Describing the council’s newly unveiled plans for the Euston area as “unsound” and “dangerous”, the MRC’s property chief Keith Tucker said in a letter to the Town Hall that the process would produce planning guidance that was “undermined, its legality questioned and little or no weight would be given to it by developers”. Mr Tucker added: “If our plans for the UKCMRI [UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation] at Brill Place are not successful then the National Temperance Hospital site will be used for that purpose; either as a refurbishment or redevelopment.” In documents disclosed at last week’s meeting of the ruling cabinet to discuss the Euston planning brief, a quickfire response by the council’s planners was revealed, dismissing Mr Tucker’s criticisms and reminding him that the rief was open to consultation.

Housing campaigner Candy Udwin said: “There have to be questions over why the MRC appears to be one of the largest property speculators in the area. Medical research is obviously very important but the MRC now owns quite a lot of vacant land in the area. Some of it should be used for housing.”

Regent’s Park councillor Theo Blackwell said: “The MRC are being very naïve about how they’re approaching this – they seem to be acting like property developers rather than a public body.” On Tuesday, an MRC spokeswoman said: “The MRC has not yet made a final decision on use of the National Temperance Hospital site, in the meantime the MRC wishes to keep its options open.”

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Document 3

http://www.nimr.mrc.ac.uk/research-facilities/level-4-high-containment-virus-laboratory/

PhotoGraphics

Computing and telecomms

Web Team

Safety and security

Level 4 high containment virus laboratory

Within the complex of buildings that make up NIMR is a suite of laboratories for handling viruses with high pathogenic potential for birds, humans or other mammals. Its presence is necessitated by the work of the World Influenza Centre (WIC) that involves the handling of influenza viruses from all over the world such as the novel H1N1 virus prior to its emergence as a full-blown pandemic virus.

In addition poorly characterised viruses are also received. Some of these viruses, notably viruses from zoonotic H5N1 infections, will have considerable pathogenic potential in both birds and humans. Work with poorly characterised viruses and viruses that might, or do, have pandemic potential requires a high degree of containment to prevent the spread of influenza viruses into birds or the environment as well as operator protection to minimise the risk of handling viruses potentially harmful to man.

The facility is built to Health and Safety Executive requirements and DEFRA regulations under the Specified Animal Pathogens Order. It was used for the growth and characterisation of samples of the pandemic H1N1 sent from around the world, and to generate under high containment reference post-infection ferret antisera to the emerging pandemic viruses for virus antigenic analyses. It has also been used for the isolation and characterisation of multiple human isolates of H5N1 avian influenza virus, for example from the Turkish outbreak in humans in 2006.

The laboratory capacity has been extended (to 160 m2) to have two standard high containment laboratory areas and two laboratories equipped to handle infected small animals under high level containment. With the enhanced capacity, in addition to the virus surveillance and characterisation studies of the WIC, simultaneous studies of the mechanisms of disease causation by avian or other influenza viruses can be carried out.

Features of the facility

A negative pressure air regime with HEPA filtered input and double HEPA filtered extract

Waste treatment with heating of liquid waste and autoclave sterilisation of solid waste within the body of the facility

Class III and Class I/III Microbiological Safety Cabinets for handling samples Class III cabinets for handling infected small animals Sealable so as to permit fumigation

Strict codes of practice including the requirement for all workers to undergo a complete change of clothing before entering the laboratory and to shower when leaving

Level 3 laboratories

In addition to the level 4 facility, there are 11 level 3 laboratories scattered among the main buildings and biological research facilities of NIMR. These laboratories allow the safe handling of a number of pathogenic organisms, permitting studies of the microbiology and immunology of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the invasion of blood cells by the malaria parasite and the growth of the retroviruses that cause AIDS.

© MRC National Institute for Medical Research

The Ridgeway, Mill Hill, London NW7 1AA   

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Document 4

SALE OF THE LAND TO THE NORTH OF THE BRITISH LIBARY TO THE

UK CENTRE FOR MEDICAL RESEARCH AND INNOVATION – Q&A

(DCMS document)

Q1. Who is in the Consortium?

Al. The consortium includes the Medical Research Council (MRC), The

Wellcome Trust, Cancer Research UK and University College London.

Q2. What have the Consortium paid for the site?

A2. The Consortium have paid £85 million for the site.

Q3. Was the Consortium’s bid the highest received by the Department?

A3. No. We made an allowance for the value to the public of creating a world- class centre for inter-disciplinary medical research in the heart of London.

Q4. What assessment was made of the Public value?

A4. MRC anticipates that some £205 m of additional investment will be secured from consortium partners for the development of the UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation. This is investment which would otherwise be Lost to the public purse. This additional investment in the work of the National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) will support the delivery of high quality research on:

 The origins of the AIDS epidemic, detecting tuberculosis (TB) infection, variations in the structure of the bird flu virus H5N1 all of which could Lead to more effective breakthroughs in drug development. Scientists at NIMR have also:- (With the University of Hong Kong) isolated the gene responsible for sensory development in the inner ear, which may lead to significant advances in the development of treatments for the deaf and those with severely impaired hearing; and determined the structure of the enzyme that regulates cellular energy levels which could lead to new drugs for type II diabetes, an illness that affects more than two million people in the UK. Taken together, these important results emerging from the UKCMRI could substantially improve the quality of life and allow those who benefit from the findings to continue to make their important contribution to the economy.

Q5. Does the selling of the land mean that the Centre will go ahead?

A5. No. The Consortium will need to obtain planning permission from the

appropriate authorities for their proposal.

Q6. Have the views of Local residents been taken into account?

A6. We have listened to the case made by them. This has been considered against the public value case of creating a world class centre for medical research is

Q7. What happens if MRC sell the land on?

A7. The profit from any future sale would be passed back to the Department.

Q8. Was the decision made to sell the land to the MRC from the start of the process?

A8. No. There has been a competitive sales process to which MRC submitted an expression of interest. Their bid has been considered against the other bids received.

Q9. What was the highest bid?

A9. This is a commercial matter for the other bidders: subject to their views, we can release a figure in due course.

Q9. What is the position on the and swap with the British Library?

A9. An agreement has been reached with the British Library on the land swap. Heads of term have been agreed.

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Document 5

  http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmselect/cmdius/360/360i.pdf

Daily Telegraph                  

Terror threat sparks scientist check

By Richard Alleyne

Published: 12:01AM BST 31 Mar 2008

Police and secret service officers are carrying out background checks on thousands of scientists without their knowledge, amid fears terrorists are targeting British laboratories to obtain deadly viruses.

Terrorists ‘may still serve half jail terms’

The vetting, which includes checks on family backgrounds, political views and associates, is part of a review of some 800 laboratories in hospitals, universities and private firms where staff have access to incurable viruses such as ebola.

Whitehall sources confirmed the operation by MI5 and the National Counter Terrorism Security Office. A series of spot checks and detailed inspections are also being led by experts from the Health and Safety Executive.

Last week, Dr Paul Logan, of the HSE’s Biological Agents Unit, told a Commons sub-committee on biosecurity: “We work closely with the security services. We advise them on toxins and pathogens. They are looking at very different things at the moment in terms of vetting of staff, looking at physical security and how easy it is to break into premises and the wider security issues.”

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Document 6

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/oct/10/terrorism-islam-abdulmutallab-nick-cohen

How radical Islam seduced the academics

The Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab case highlights the pusillanimity of those who should be confronting extremism

  Nick Cohen The Observer, Sunday 10 October 2010 Article history

 A few months ago, I sat in a magnificent Victorian lecture hall at University College London. It was once one of finest centres of intellectual inquiry in Europe, thanks to the efforts of its founder, the sternly anti-clerical philosopher Jeremy Bentham. It did not take me long to realise that fear of clerical fascism had led Bentham’s trembling successors to abandon intellectual inquiry and basic intellectual standards along with it.

I had come along with hundreds of others because, on Christmas Day 2009, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a former UCL student, tried to detonate plastic explosives hidden in his underwear and kill the 278 passengers and crew on Northwest Airlines’ flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. After such a narrow escape from mass murder, I thought that no one could deny that the universities needed to confront campus sectarianism. I reckoned without the limitless capacity for self-delusion of British academe.

By the time UCL organised a public debate on the Abdulmutallab affair, reporters had established that the Nigerian student had lost himself in London’s political netherworld, where the white far left meets the religious far right. As president of UCL Islamic Society, Abdulmutallab had presided over an “antiterror week”, which featured a promotional video of clips of violence, accompanied by hypnotic music. The film-maker had inserted footage of George Galloway saying the west believed Palestinian blood was cheaper than Israeli blood, and Amnesty International’s latest pin-up, Moazzam Begg, alleging the Americans tortured him at Guantánamo Bay.

“When we sat down, they played a video that opened with shots of the Twin Towers after they’d been hit, then moved on to images of mujahideen fighting, firing rockets in Afghanistan,” one member of the audience told the New York Times. “It was quite tense in the theatre, because I think lots of people were shocked by how extreme it was. It seemed to me like it was brainwashing, like they were trying to indoctrinate people.”

The London Times found that one cleric who had lectured the UCL Islamic Society was on record as saying of the Jews (inevitably): “They’re all the same. They’ve monopolised everything: the Holocaust, God, money, interest, usury, the world economy, the media, political institutions… they monopolised tyranny and oppression as well.” Alongside the racism came the concomitant sexism, homophobia and hatred of the western world. Channel 4, for instance, had caught another visiting imam on camera saying that the testimony of women was worth half that of a man. As for gays, he added: “Do you practise homosexuality with men? Take that homosexual man and throw him off the mountain.”

You might have thought that in light of the above, academics would have wanted to protect their students. In particular, they should have wanted to protect Muslim students from going the way of Abdulmutallab.

Instead of facing the problem squarely, they pretended it did not exist. Philippe Sands, a law professor who is always alleging that Tony Blair is a “criminal” for overthrowing Saddam Hussein’s genocidal tyranny, appeared undisturbed by the existence of actual criminals among his university’s alumni. He didn’t want to spy or snoop on his students, he said, and did not see why anyone should want him to. Other speakers followed the example set by the UCL’s provost, Malcolm Grant, and avoided discussing extremism in the university by the shabby trick of denouncing those who wanted to talk about it as “Islamophobes”.

Given the precedents, the report from the official inquiry was predestined to be a lame effort. As expected, it concluded last week that university life played no part in the radicalisation of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. I could attack it by emphasising that UCL had chosen to put on the inquiry team Muhammad Abdul Bari, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain. Dr Bari is high up in the Jamaat-e-Islami-dominated East London Mosque.

I can best describe the political character of the sect by telling you that the authorities in Dacca have indicted Jamaat’s Bangladeshi leaders on charges that they aided and abetted the Pakistani army’s crimes against humanity during the Bangladesh war of independence. Among the communalist imams who regularly rolled up to his mosque’s rooms was one Saudi preacher who denounced Jews as pigs and Hindus as idol worshippers. Given that Bari was reluctant take up an invitation from Panorama to disassociate himself from the cleric, the inquiry’s failure to be shocked by the company Abdulmutallab was keeping is not such a surprise.

We are always told to condemn less and understand more. So, instead of criticising, I will empathise with the academics and try to appreciate why supposed liberals such as Sands will not confront anti-liberal movements when they are raging around their workplace. Ignorance is a part of it. I doubt one lecturer in 10 at UCL knows anything about the ideologies of Jamaat and the Muslim Brotherhood. The Afghanistan and Iraq wars and the assault on civil liberties may play their part, too. When lecturers who oppose all three meet students and preachers who promote hate-filled ideologies, they may not argue against them with the vigour with which they would argue against the white far right because at some level they think the hate is the fault of the west.

I do not need to overcomplicate the question, however. Vice-chancellors and their staff do not engage in robust debate with extremists and try to show vulnerable students the moral and intellectual virtues of liberalism because they are frightened. By far the most revealing comment on Abdulmutallab did not come from Philippe Sands or Malcolm Grant but from UCL’s professor of English, John Sutherland.

He described how a friend of his, “an eminent scientist”, strolled in to take a look at an art exhibition organised by the UCL Islamic Society. “‘Was he a believer?’ asked an obviously Muslim student. ‘No,’ replied my friend, ‘he didn’t believe in any god, as it happened.’ ‘Then,’ the young man confidently informed him, ‘we shall have to execute you.’ My friend laughed it off after lodging a mild complaint. It could, of course, have been Abdulmutallab who made the threat.”

I am willing to bet that the laughter of the eminent scientist was of the tinny and nervous variety. I will wager further that equally tinny and nervous laughs are being heard on campuses across Britain.

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Document 7

The BLISS Project Concept and Vision

The BLISS Centre for Medical Research responds to the vision, outlined i Sir David Cooksey’s review of UK health research presented to Teasury in 2006, of better integration and translation of research into patient and public benefit. BLISS will create a new centre for UK biomedical research, with 1.500 scientists, creating a new European centre for biomedical research in Europe at a level commensurate with the very best institutions in the world. The Centre will benefit from economies of scale, enhanced infrastructure, the critical mass to optimise collaboration1, and the capacity to take scientific discoveries from the lab bench to the hospital bed. The potential, ri terms of understanding disease, and developing new drugs, treatments and cures, is huge. 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 mathematical and computational needs in this field.

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

 • Develop close linksbetween 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).

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 worlds 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 scientists. • 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 International research commissioned by the MRC suggests that the  optimum capacity of a modern biomedical facility is around 1,000 people, which would he achieved by the BLISS Centre • 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.

The proposed facility

This location and the capacity for collaboration that it offers have a number of advantages:

I. The site is close to a number of leading UK research institutes,

universities and teaching hospitals, and is located at the edge of the

Bloomsbury cluster, identified in the Mayor of London’s London Plan as

‘mixed use with a predominantly academic character’2.

2. London is a global centre for life sciences: the city has more than 6,000 people working within the pharmaceutical sector, 1,350 academic staff working in top-rated biological sciences and clinical departments, attracts 70 per cent of NHS research funding and has 121 hospitals3. The

benefits of this concentration of expertise include access to the best quality expertise, and a wide range of potential collaborations, with other research scientists, with clinicians and with industry.

3. London is hugely varied in terms of its population and offers major advantages in terms of its population size, patients, clinicians and clinical facilities. NHS London Strategic l-lealth Authority (SI-IA) has a greater diversity of population than any other strategic health authority in the UK in terms of ethnicity and wealth.

4. The proximity of the site to an international rail transport hub, with high-speed rail links to Paris and other continental cities, will enable better collaboration with institutions from across Europe, and access to a wider labour pool (around two thirds of the institutes’ staff are from outside the UK), as well as providing easy rail access to biotechnology and bioscience firms located in the London-Stansted-Cambridge growth corridor.

If the Partners bid for the British Library site is successful, the BLISS Centre will accommodate a new landmark laboratory complex, which will reflect the partners’ commitment to excellence in the quality of its architecture. The partners will achieve economies of scale through the provision of shared infrastructure and scientific services and equipment. There will be dedicated space for technology transfer and additional lab space to enable the findings of the research teams within the Centre to be developed and translated into clinical applications by scientists from pharmaceutical companies and other partners.

BLISS funding

The planned investment by the MRC which would be of the order of

[43](to provide facilities for the National Institute for Medical Research, MRC Technology and for additional laboratory space for collaborations with industry) is likely to he matched by investment of a similar order by CRUK and the Wellcome Trust. The funding from UCL is £46m. If the project does not go ahead there is no guarantee that all of the funding from the two research charities would be spent in the UK

BLISS benefits

The location of the BLISS Centre at the British Library site in London offers clear benefits to scientific practice, to the economy and to local

communities. Its research programme will make a tangible difference to the lives of people across the UK and the world, while providing a boost to the UK economy.

A boost for scientific research and medicine

Biomedical research drives improvements to public health by establishing the processes and mechanisms involved in normal development (from the level of cellular physics to whole organisms>, and identifying how these mechanisms are undermined by disease states like cancer and infection.

These discoveries can be used as the basis of new diagnostic methods, new treatments and new preventative approaches.

The BLISS Medical Research Centre will strengthen research in critical areas of research, from systems biology (which uses large data sets to

research how different pails of a cell or organism interact), to structural biology (which develops understanding of biological processes at an atomic level of detail), to research on how disease genes function and interact with environmental factors to CSUSC illness.

The BLISS partners have complementary expertise in a range of areas.

By bringing their research capacity together they will he able to advance understanding and treatment of many of the biggest health challenges that we face today, including:

• The identification, prevention and treatment of cancers

 • New multiple-drug-resistant strains of common pathogens (e.g., MRSA)

 • Previously unknown pathogens (e.g., SARS)

 •Pathogens with pandemic potential, (e.g., influenza, malaria, tuberculosis and HIV).

A boost for the economy

The UK is a global leader in biotechnology and pharmaceutical research:

its biotechnology sector is second only to the USA4, and the UK leads the G8 countries in the productivity of 4. Think London 2005 publicly performed R&D5. The location of the BLISS Centre for Medical Research in London offers benefits to the London and UK economy:

 • The strengthening of London’s biomedical science base will help to attract and retain investment by multinational pharmaceutical and medical equipment firms;

• The provision of incubator space within BLISS will help to meet the needs for 20- 30,000 square feet of such space identified in the London Development Agency’s Life Sciences Strategy6

 • The enhancement of the academic/scientific Bloomsbury cluster of research institutes will boost the ability of London, and the south east of England, to attract and retain inward investment and the highly skilled scientists that are critical to such investment;

 • An assessment of different potential locations for the Centre found that a London location would have a higher net impact on job numbers than alternative cities7 and

 • The focus on training within the BLISS  Centre will help to bring forward the next generation of scientists who can maintain the UK’s competitive position in life sciences and biotechnology.

A boost for the community

The site chosen for the BLISS Centre sits in one of central London’s most important growth hubs, and alongside some of central London’s most marginalised communities. While many of the scientists working at the partner institutions are drawn from a labour pool that is international in nature, there will be tangible economic and social benefits for the surrounding area:

 • More than 200 support staff jobs will require different skill levels than research staff jobs, many of them offering great opportunities for career development within a vibrant, growing and nationally important industry sector;

 • In addition to these jobs, the construction of BLISS will lead to spin off development, in terms of suppliers, development partners and pharmaceutical companies;

• BLISS will work actively with local schools and communities to develop public understanding of and interest in science, and to promote the study of

science among local children building on existing programmes run by the partners; and The BLISS partners Medical Research Council (MRC) – http://www.rnrc.ac.uk

The MRC is dedicated to improving human health through excellent science. It invests on behalf of the UK taxpayer. Its work ranges from molecular level science to public health research, carried out in universities, hospitals and a network of its own units and institutes. The MRC liaises with the Health Departments, the National Health Service and industry to take account of the public’s needs. The MRC was set up in 1913 to administer public funds for medical research. The MRC receives an annual grant-in-aid from Parliament through the Department for Innovation Universities and Skills (formerly from the Office of Science and Innovation (OSl)), arid funds from other sources including government departments, PSA target mellics lot- the UK research base, Department of Trade and Industry/Office or Science and Innovation, March 2007 l3ioLondon:

London life sciences strategy and action plan, LDA, 2003 DTZ/NIMR, 2006 international agencies, industry and medical research charities. In 2006/07, the MRC spent £477m.

The Wellcome Trust – http://www.wellcome.ac.uk

The Wellcome Trust is the largest charity in the UK. It was set up in 1935 with a bequest from Sir Henry Wellcome. It now has an endowment of £1 3b. The Trusts mission is to foster and promote research with the aim of improving human and animal health, Its constitution and mission allows us to respond flexibly to medical needs and scientific opportunities. As well as tackling immediate priorities, its independence and long-term perspective enable it to support research that will benefit future generations, It also seeks to improve understanding of the ways science and medicine have developed, and how research affects people and society today. In 2005/06, the Trust spent £484m.

Cancer Research UK (CRIJK) – http://www.cancerresearchuk.org

CRUK was formed in 2002 when the Imperial Cancer Research Fund and the Cancer Research Campaign merged. It is one of the UK’s largest charities, currently funding 4250 scientists, doctors and nurses in its own institutes, universities and hospitals. Its main role is to carry out world-class_research to improve the understanding of cancer and find out how to prevent, diagnose and treat different kinds of cancer. CRUK takes proactive approaches to educate the public about cancer risks, and provide authoritative information to improve the understanding of cancer and its complexity amongst the general public. CRUK works with other research funders, the NHS and with industry, including its technology transfer company CRT, to ensure that its research is translated to patient benefit. It raises funds directly from the public, through donations shops and legacies. In 2006/07, CRUK spent £315m.

University College London (UCL) – www.ucl.ac.uk UCL is the oldest multi-faculty constituent college of the University of London. It is one of Europe’s largest and most productive centres for biomedical science. Biomedical research is enhanced by extensive collaborations with those in the physical sciences, engineering and the humanities. The School of Life & Medical Sciences links the Faculty of Biomedical Sciences, which covers UCL medical institutes and departments, with the Faculty of Life Sciences, which comprises UCL’s biomedical science departments. The Royal Free and University College Medical School provides an outstanding clinical research environment, A General Biomedical Research Centre at University College Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and two Specialist Biomedical Research Centres, at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust and at Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Trust, funded in national competition by the Dot-I,  provide exceptional facilities for translational medical  research. UCL consistently ranks among the top five university institutions in the UK league tables and in the top 25 universities across the world, with an annual turnover of over £550 million.

October 2007

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Document 8

daily telegraph

Man dies in government cancer drug trial

A man about to get married has died in a government-funded medical trial after receiving seven overdoses of drugs.

By Jon Swaine

Last Updated: 7:50PM BST 21 Sep 2008

Gary Foster, 27, was repeatedly given twice the amount of chemotherapy  he had been prescribed. He was due to be married this month. Reports have said his death was caused by an error in the setting up of the trial on the computer system at University College London Hospital (UCLH). A second patient was affected by the same mistake, but survived. When the MRC suspected patients had been given overdoses, instead of calling the hospital immediately it wrote a letter – which a nurse at UCLH failed to open until two days after Mr Foster had died. Mr Foster’s mother Colleen said: “Gary was slowly poisoned to death. “We just thought Gary was getting tired because of the chemotherapy.” The incident raises fresh questions about the safety of medical testing in Britain.

 Two years ago six men almost died in the so-called “elephant man” case at Northwick Park Hospital, North London. Their bodies swelled horrifically after they were given the experimental drug TGN1412. UCLH has been forced to suspend the trial, called TE23, which tests whether a combination of five drugs is better at treating testicular cancer than the standard treatment of three drugs. It has, however, being continued at other UK hospitals. Mr Foster, a graphic designer, had just been diagnosed with testicular cancer. He was told he had a 60 per cent chance of survival. The disease has a 95 per cent survival rate when caught early. Mr Foster was told about the TE23 trial and told that if he was accepted on to it, his chances of survival would increase. His fiancée, Paula Collins, 35, told The Sunday Times: “When Gary became involved in the trial, we thought it was fantastic news because we thought Gary’s chance of survival would be greater and the care would be better. “The trial sister said: ‘Good news, Gary, you have been selected for the trial.’ At UCLH they said, ‘Don’t worry, testicular cancer is curable. We will monitor Gary for 10 years – you don’t have to worry.’ They made us feel so confident.”

Mr Foster received the drugs during visits to UCLH between June and September 2007. On seven occasions, he received 30,000 units of bleomycin – of one of the five drugs – instead of 15,000.

A third patient died at a different hospital after receiving an overdose of the same drug due to an error by a nurse or doctor. However the Medical Research Council (MRC), the government body which ran the trial, said the drug was not the direct cause of his death. An inquest heard Mr Foster began to show signs of deterioration after taking the drugs.

Eventually he developed a dry cough, a symptom of damage to his lungs that had been caused by the overdose of bleomycin. The lung damage was eventually fatal. The inquest heard the cough should have been recognised by doctors and nurses as a warning sign. However, he was given a final dose. Miss Collins said: “We had dreams and lots of plans together. Gary also had his own ambitions. We were supposed to be getting married. He was such a lovely person. He was so well liked and had so many friends.” “We do need trials but there need to be more controls,” Collins added. “I would encourage other people thinking about taking part in trials to proceed with caution. I would hate to think of anyone else going through what we have gone through.” “Checks should have been carried out. It is incomprehensible that they were dealing with the most dangerous medicines and they were so blasé. It was so slapdash.” Mrs Foster said: “An overdose gives the impression that it was a one-off. It was seven times. “Every week my poor Gary was going into hospital, we thought he was getting better but, actually, he was being slowly poisoned and poisoned to death.” In a statement, UCLH said: “We would like to reiterate our deepest sympathy and condolences to the family and friends of Mr Foster.” It said it has introduced measures to make medical tests safer. The MRC said it had reviewed its trial procedures as a result of Mr Foster’s death and subsequently introduced additional checks.

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Document 9

BBC  ONLINE  17.10.08

Farmers bring foot-and-mouth case

By Pallab Ghosh, Science correspondent, BBC News

The two laboratories at the centre of last year’s foot-and-mouth outbreak and the government are to be sued for damages, the BBC has learned. If the High Court case brought by 14 farmers is successful, the labs and the government could face further claims that could total more than £100m.

The outbreak occurred in Normandy in Surrey at the beginning of August 2007. Both labs have consistently denied any failure in their duty of care, and the government has denied any negligence.

The losses being claimed are principally due to the export ban imposed on the UK, movement restrictions put in place during the outbreak and lost turnover due to the disruption of farming businesses.

Broken drain

Two official investigations into the outbreak concluded that the most likely sources of the foot-and-mouth virus were two nearby laboratories at Pirbright which stocked samples of the same form of virus that had infected local animals.

Philip Connolly, spokesman for Merial Animal Health Limited These were the Institute for Animal Health, which is a publicly- funded research organisation, and Merial Animal Health Limited, a privately run vaccine production company.

The investigators concluded the virus had escaped from the broken drainage system which served both laboratories; but they were unable to pinpoint which of the two facilities as responsible for the leak.

The inquiries also criticised the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) which is responsible for running the Pirbright site.

It emerged that Defra knew the two laboratories considered the old

effluent drains ought to be renewed. Defra was at the time responsible for inspecting the laboratories.

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Document 10

To all Camden Cllrs

The proposed Medical Research Centre behind the British Library

The Camden Development Control Forum held 10 2 2010

Points arising for the meeting

It was clear from the responses of the CEO of UKCRMI John Cooper that the consortium had absolutely no intention of meaningfully engaging with the local residents. He did this not only by  behaviour such as flatly dismissing any questions which dealt with the glaring discrepancy between the various Camden planning briefs and what the consortium proposes, ie, no  UKCRMI funded  social housing on the Brill Place site, the National Temperance site or anywhere else, but by his manner which was condescending in the extreme (He managed eventually to provoke a member of the audience to a spirited protest about his manner).

When we eventually got to the question of security, Mr Cooper, in response to a question from me, made the truly incredible statement that the siting of the Centre next to prime terrorist targets such as the Eurostar Terminal and the British Library did not increase the terrorist threat to the Centre one jot. The statement was particularly absurd because of the public  puffing of the planned Centre by Gordon Brown which attached overt political significance to the project.

The other two consortium representatives, Sir Paul Nurse and Sir Sir Leszeck Borysiewicz (thankfully known as Boris) had a more acceptable manner,  but their message was essentially the same, namely, that the Centre should be built as they wanted it with no more than a few token waves at local residents such as a “Healthy Living ” centre, the details of which, risibly,  they could not describe because they did not know as yet what they would be. It was telling that there was no mention of disturbance payments to those living close to the site.

The reasons given for why the centre had to be on the site – the ready access to and close proximity of scientists and other interested parties –  were distinctly unpersuasive. The game was rather given way when a member of the audience suggested to John Cooper that all those considerations could be met by switching the building to the Kings X central site, a site which might well be available now because of the recession. Mr Cooper’s response was not that it would be physically impossible, but that the amount of time, money and efforts expended in developing a plan for Brill Place would make this impossible. This strongly suggests that the Consortium has assumed that both the sale of the land to them and planning approval were done deals long before the approval to sell the site to them, a suspicion strengthened by a Treasury memo which states that Gordon Brown was personally involved in the bidding process, viz:

“EXTRACT of relevant information extracted from a report prepared 1

August 2007

NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF MEDICAL RESEARCH (NIMR)

…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)…”

These important markers laid down:

1. The building is scheduled to take 4 years, 2 years for the structure and 2 years for the interior outfitting. Large building projects almost never meet their initial time scale, so it would not be unreasonable to expect the construction to take 6-8 years -I would remind councillors of the grotesque overrun on the British Library construction.

2. The intention is for there to be no 24 hour working with the hours of work being Monday-Friday (8am – 6pm) and Saturday (8am – 1pm). Of course, this does not stop them changing their minds later if there is not a legal bar to changes built into the planning permission.

3. There will be an estimated 1,200 research staff and 300 support staff working in the Centre.

4. A Construction management plan dealing with the practical aspects of the construction  will accompany the planning application and have to be approved in the planning process.

There will be particular problems of access. After the meeting I spoke with the construction project director Andy Smith about the British Library’s planning application to switch their main vehicle access from St Pancras Way to Ossulton Street. Mr Smith said that the consortium was in discussions with the British Library and Camden’s town planners about this application and how it impacted on the proposed building. If the planning application is granted,  the British Library  generated traffic plus the traffic from the UKCRMI  building site would result in a massive increase in the traffic along Ossulton Street, a narrow road allowing only one traffic lane each way.

I also gained this information during a post-meeting talk with Boris (Sir Leszeck Borysiewicz):

5.The highest security rated viruses to be licensed for testing would be Bird Flu’ viruses.  Of course, once the Centre is built this might well change.

6. He said that disturbance payments had not been  considered. I suggested he raised the matter. He said he would.

7.  UKCRMI will become a registered charity and be unequivocally responsible for running the Centre.  This is important because it is all too  easy to envisage a disaster (terrorist or bio-security lapse) happening and there being no one body unequivocally has responsibility. For example, ownership of the site could be put in a holding company and then leased to the charity. Who would you sue in the event of, say, a serious bio-security lapse?

What must be  remembered above all other things

A terrorist attack  or major bio-security lapse could have devastating effects on the local inhabitants – those in Ossulton Street directly opposite the site are around 100 feet away from the site-  temporarily close the Eurostar Terminal and two of London’s major railway termini and leave a long term dissuasive effect on would-be visitors to the area to the detriment of the local economy.

The meeting  was manipulated by:

1. Asking people to signal their intention to attend. This allowed the organisers to flag up anyone deemed to be trouble.

2. Asking people to submit questions in writing in advance of the meeting. This allowed those answering the questions to be prepared and for the time to be allotted to any topic to be determined by the chair of the meeting – see 5. below.

3. Taking up much of the time allotted to questions by reading out questions which had been submitted in writing. This together with the responses from the UKCRMI representatives left little time for un-notified questions from the floor.

4.  The agenda was set by the organisers and was much too narrow to allow discussion of many of the issues which trouble opponents of the project, for example, the manner in which the DCMS bidding process was conducted.

5. The sequence in which topics were taken was such as to prevent proper discussion of one of the most important topics relating to the project, namely,  security.  An hour was allowed for questions. After 55 minutes the chair had not raised the question of  security. Had I not vigorously protested at that point about the failure to raise it, I suspect it would not have been discussed at all because time would have run out. The putting of contentious matters at the end of an agenda to reduce discussion of them is a very old trick indeed.

6. Advertisement of the meeting was sketchy. Only 1,500 notifications were sent out and a decidedly limited number of public advertisements appeared. Large numbers of local people were unaware of the meeting.

Such manipulation does the Council’s cause no good for it merely inflames the opposition.

Robert Henderson 11 2 2010

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Document 11

Sir Leszek Borysiewicz

CEO

Medical Research Council

20 Park Crsecent,

London W1B 1AL

11 2 2010

Dear Boris,

  The proposed medical research centre behind the British Library

As promised during our conversation at the Development Control Forum (DCF) on 10 February, I send you my complete correspondence with Lara Alden of the London Communications Agency – see below. I failed to get a meaningful  answer to many of the questions raised and silence reigned after my email of 8 June 2008. I would be grateful if you could provide substantive answers both to the outstanding questions and to the new questions arising from the DCF which are directly below.

Security

It was plain from the response I got from John Cooper during the meeting and my  subsequent private conversation with you,  that the consortium has given precious little thought to security, something epitomised by the fact that you have not yet decided whether the general physical security should be directly employed or put out to contractors.

If contract labour is used,   UKCRMI will have no meaningful control over either the vetting of the people or their working practices, because a sub-contracting situation, the employees of the contractor obey the contractor not the employer of the contractor. There are also legal implications in the event of a security lapse. Who do you sue or prosecute, the contractor or the employer of the contractor. A good example of this problem in a security sensitive environment is provided by Heathrow. This has had a number of highly embarrassing incidents where contract staff in sensitive areas have been shown to either not have been vetted or have been vetted without discovering facts which should disqualify them from working.

There are also the inherent problems with security staff. Those providing general physical security are normally lowly paid and consequently  poorly motivated.  The low pay also makes them vulnerable to bribes.

There is also the problem of what might be best termed sociological drag, the process by which any system  involving human beings deteriorates in efficiency the longer it operates. It is also true that no security system ever devised is anything like 100% efficient,  vide the couple who  recently gatecrashed the White House party and got close to Obama.

Nor would it be a case of vetting only the security staff. Anyone working there would need to be checked.  That would include everyone from research scientists to cleaners. Just in case you think research scientists or other professional staff would be safe to employ by definition, think of the NHS doctors who attempted to bomb Glasgow airport.

But even if  all your staff, security and otherwise,  were directly employed, I doubt whether  UKCMRI would have the expertise to vet them adequately. I suppose you might get the security services to do your vetting for you, but anyone coming from abroad would be beyond  meaningful vetting unless inordinate amounts of money were spent – you see this type of problem with CRB checks which tell you nothing about a person’s life in foreign parts.  That is an important consideration for your project because you will, I would imagine,  have quite a few people coming from abroad.

Cleaners pose a particular security problem. To begin with they are low paid and hence subject to the problems of poor morale and vulnerability to bribery.  The other general problems with cleaners are they go everywhere and work at night. How would you supervise them?

If you employ contract cleaners, they will bring with them  a high turnover of staff and, this being London, many of those employed will be from abroad and thus effectively beyond vetting.  If you employ contract cleaners you will leave yourself wide open to infiltration. Do you intend to employ them?

Then there is the problem of waste. I dare say you will have wonderful written procedures detailing how to dispose of dangerous material,  but I wonder who will doing the final disposing? Is it going to be more lowly paid contract staff? I rather suspect it might be. Am I right? If so, the problems of motivation and vetting will again apply.

Finally, you say there will be no armed guards. In those circumstances how would an armed terrorist attack be resisted?  That would not necessarily be terrorists armed with guns. It could, for example, be a suicide bomber whom you can only stop by shooting them.

John Cooper’s response to my question about security, namely,  that the site being next to two plum terrorist targets – the Eurostar Terminal and the British Library, did not make it more vulnerable to terrorist attack would – I think, strike the vast majority of people as simply absurd. You mentioned, without giving away the identity of the sites, that similar laboratories dealing with dangerous viruses already existed in central London. The fact that you think it necessary that the sites should be kept secret tells us that you fear they might be attacked. Yet now you support a project next to prime terrorist targets which will be widely known to both exist and to work with dangerous viruses. Indeed, it could hardly have had a higher profile launch for Gordon Brown  gave it his fervent support during PMQs on the day the outcome sale was announced. Please explain why the other sites in central London have to be kept secret but this one does not.

The bidding process

I have used the FOIA to extract details of the bidding process for the site from the Cabinet Office, Treasury, DCMS and Camden Council. It took me more than two years and the intervention of the Information Commissioner to get full release of the data, but I now have that. It is clear from the data that Gordon Brown was personally involved in the decision, for example:

“EXTRACT of relevant information extracted from a report prepared 1 August 2007

NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF MEDICAL RESEARCH (NIMR)

…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)…”

That shows Gordon Brown had taken a personal interest in the matter before the initial formal bidding period was over – formal expressions of interest had to be submitted by 2 August 2007 – and may have taken action to favour the MRC bid before all the submissions were in. I doubt very much that the other bidders – and there were plenty involved at the expression of interest stage- had an inkling of this. Prima facie this surreptitious civil service work breaches the sole DCMS criterion for deciding upon a winner, namely, value for money. Indeed, it looks as though Brown had already decided that the MRC were to be sold the site not long after he became PM. Brown’s  behaviour  and the work done by civil servants on his instructions to favour the MRC bid appears to unambiguously contaminate the bidding process. That being so there would be grounds for a judicial review of the sale. The worst case scenario for the consortium would be if it could be shown there was a conspiracy to rig the sale, for then both the  civil and criminal law would come into play.

I have not as yet been able to persuade a national politician or media outlet to take up the story of the bidding process,  but there is always the chance that I will  be successful in doing so. That chance will be amplified once Brown has office and Labour are not the Government,  for then the fear factor which protects those with power will be removed. The principals of UKCRMI might care to reflect on the possibility they could be involved in both a legal and a PR battle if they go ahead with the plan .

My question to you at this stage is what contact did the consortium have with Labour ministers, including Brown, and the civil servants involved in the sale before the sale to UKCRMI was announced?

Yours sincerely,

Robert Henderson

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Document 12

From the Chief Executive

Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, KBE FRS FRCP FMedSci

Mr Robert Henderson

23 February 2010

Dear Mr Henderson

I was interested to talk with you at the Development Control Forum and thank you for your subsequent emails. I have passed your questions to John Davidson at the UKCMRI office. Enquiries on the UKCMRI project for the consortium are dealt with by the UKCMRI team (info@ukcmri.ac.uk) and John will be in touch with you shortly.

Kind regards

Sir Leszek Borysiewicz

Chief Executive

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Document 13

Medical Research Council 20 Park Crescent London W1B 1AL tel: +44

(0)20 7670 5155 fax: +44 (0)20 7580 4369 http://www.mrc.ac.uk

The United Kingdom Centre for Medical Research and Innovation

UKCMRI

PD Box 64746

London

NW1W 8148

E info@ukcmrLac.uk

http://www.ukcmrLac.uk

Robert Henderson

3 March 2010

Dear Mr Henderson,

The United Kingdom Centre for Medical Research and Innovation (UKCMRI)

I’ve been forwarded your emails by Sir Leszek Borysiewicz who has asked me to respond. Thank you for your comments and your questions.

You asked how we would supervise the cleaning staff and contractors at UKCMRI as you are concerned that they pose a security risk. It would not be sensible for us to share details of our plans for security. However you can rest assured that access to the laboratories will be highly controlled. The UKCMRI partners have superb safety and security records. We are experienced in running laboratories and managing facilities such as this.

You also asked what contact did the consortium have with ministers, including the Prime Minister and civil servants, before the sale of land to UKCMRI was announced. I understand you asked a similar question of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) which was answered at the beginning of July last year. Mark Walport, Director of the Welicome Trust, led discussions with DCMS on the purchase of the land, acting on behalf of the consortium. I understand you have copies of the correspondence, and there is nothing to add to the information you’ve already received on this.

Yours sincerely,

John Davidson

UKCMRI Communications

The Medical Research Council is  non-departmental pubic body incorporated by Royal Charter

Cancer Research UK is a registered charity No 1089464 and a registered company No. 4325234

UCL is a corporate body established U5 Royal Charter

The Welcome Trust is a charity registered in England, no. 210183

The UK Centre for Medical  Research and Innovation (UKCMRI) is a joint project between the Medical Research Council (MRC). Cancer Research UK, The Welcome Trust and UCL (University College London) The project uses a special purpose construction company, UKCMRI Construction Limited, registered n England (no.6589905),  whose registered office is 215 Euston Road, London. NW1 264.

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Document 14

Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, KBE FRS FRCP FMedSci

Mr Robert Henderson

15 March 2010

Dear Boris,

John Davidson has responded to my email to you of 11 February. A copy of his letter is below.

As you will see, Mr Davidson has failed completely to address the questions left unanswered by Lara Alden of the London Communications Agency in 2008. I ask you to provide answers to these questions or give reasons  why you will not do so.

Mr Davidson also failed to meaningfully address the questions of security and the contamination of the bidding process by Gordon Brown’s personal intervention which I raised in my email to you, a copy of whichis below.

Security

Mr Davidson’s ex cathedra claim that security will not be a problem cannot be taken seriously for three reasons. The first is the fact that every large organisation which has security issues always says their security is very tight and time and again the security fails. Pirbright said  exactly this before they had to admit that they were at fault.

The second reason arises from the access you intend to give to the public, especially local residents, and researchers not working for the Consortium, the latter being indicated by the Consortium’s own publicity – the document  The Bliss Project Concept and Vision – which states “There will be dedicated space for technology transfer and additional lab space to enable the findings of the research teams within the centre to be developed and translated into clinical applications by scientists from pharmaceutical companies and partners.”

The terrorist risk of admitting the public speaks for itself, while the employment of those not under UKMRCI control raises both risks of bio-security breaches and terrorist  infiltration.  It is noteworthy that Pirbright had a split responsibility between public and private enterprises and it is a good bet that their bio-security breach occurred because no one had overall control and responsibility for the site. A similar situation could exist at UKMRCI.

The third and last reason  lies in your admissions to me  at the Development Control Forum that (1) no decision had been made about whether security was to be put out to contract or wholly in-house and (2) there would be no armed guards which would make, for example, stopping a suicide bomber more than a little problematic.  Those two admissions alone make it clear that no serious thought has been given to security.

During our conversation  (at the Development Control Forum) you claimed that that other installations dealing with similar viruses may exist in London. If this is true it  is neither here nor there because the proposed centre differs in three  important respects for any such research facilities: (1) their existence and whereabouts is not public knowledge; (2) they are very unlikely to be within a hundred feet or so of two prime terrorist sites as the proposed UKCRMI will be (the Eurostar terminal  and the British Library) and (3) the Prime Minister (and the leader of the opposition) have not given their public endorsement and enthusiastic support for the other (secret) research facilities.

I am not asking you to provide  detailed descriptions of your security, merely to answer the big questions such as whether the security staff will all be directly employed, whether all staff – everyone from the director of the centre to the cleaners – will be formally vetted,  how people working in the centre who are not employed by UKCRMI will be controlled and vetted, how  employees including scientists from abroad will  be vetted, whether all employees will be subject to the Official Secrets Act and so on. None of that would compromise your security unless, of course, your proposed security is full of holes.  I urge you to provide this information.

The contamination of the bidding process

In my email of 11 Feb I asked “what contact did the consortium have with Labour ministers, including Brown, and the civil servants involved in the sale before the sale to UKCRMI was announced?”.  All Mr Davidson has done is refer to the documents released to me by the DCMS under the this is not what I asked. I requested the details of the contact not the partial record provided by the written records of the DCMS, some of which is significantly redacted.  What I want from UKCRMI is a full record of who met whom when, including meetings with Gordon Brown and representatives with the Treasury and the Cabinet Office.

I ask you to provide the information requested in this email ASAP because the planning application will be submitted to the council in the near future. Of course,  I have no power to force you to do so, but if the consortium intends to behave honestly over this matter it would be in its interest to do so.  That is because any disinterested third party looking at this proposal would see the very real dangers it represents both from terrorism and bio-security.   A persistent failure by UKMRCI to answer reasonable questions about very serious matters would point to a lack of confidence in the ability  by the promoters of the project to lay to rest the obvious and legitimate concerns. That consideration could also weigh eavily with those deciding the planning application.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Henderson

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Document 15

Brill  Place – the medical consortium’s The “Meet and Greet” session of 22 8 2008 – held at the Somers Town Community Centre in Ossulton Street, London NW1.

I arrived at 2.47 and left at 4.43 pm. (During this  time I was absent for approximately 15 minutes while  the Evening Standard interviewed David Hooefling and myself).

Apart  from what appeared to be an organised group of a dozen or so visiting when I arrived,  very few members of the public attended  while I was there.

The four partners in the  consortium – Cancer Research UK, The Wellcome Trust, UCL and the Medical Research Council – were represented.

Contact details

Cancer Research UK

Harpal Kumar (CEO)

Helen George (Scientist)

Steve Palmer (Press Officer

email press-office@cancer.org.uk

The Wellcome Trust

Katrina Nevin-Ridley (Communications Officer)

UCL

No details taken.

MRC

email format is firstname.surnane@headofficemrc.ac.uk

The PR company acting for the consortium is:

London Communications Agency

Middlesex House

34-42 Cleveland Street, London W1T 4JE

Tel: 0207612 8480

http://www.londoncommunications.co.uk

email format initials@londoncommunications.co.uk

for example, la@ondoncommunications.co.uk for Lara Alden – see below.

They had two representatives at the session:

Lara Alden

Shirin Homawalla – 0207612 8496 Mobile 07790 030 229

I had one or other of these two,  and quite often both, in close attendance after my first couple of minutes speaking with Cancer Research UK, that is, as soon as they discovered I was asking awkward questions. They were very quick to jump in on many of the questions I asked. It was clear they were distinctly worried that the representatives of the consortium would say something compromising.

After I attracted the attention of the PR girls,  I was also followed round religiously by one of the security men. This  I took as a deliberate attempt at intimidation. I suspect security were primed to play the heavy with anyone who didn’t lie down and accept the nonsense being peddled as gospel.

My general line with all four members of the consortium was as follows; residents are strongly opposed to the plan because:

1. The medical  centre goes directly against the Council planning  brief and Unitary Development Plan.

2. It would be a terrorist target, both from outside and in – I cited the recent MI5 warning that attempts to infiltrate research establishments had been uncovered. I also pointed out that the attempted bombings in Glasgow were carried out by doctors working for the NHS.

3. Bio-security is shown to be fallible all too often.  I cited the Pirbright example and pointed out that at Pirbright the problem stemmed from  split responsibility between the government laboratory and the private firm on the site which resulted in no one taking responsibility. Split responsibility is also proposed for the research centre,  with bodies other than the four consortium members being invited to use the facilities.

I left none of those I spoke in any doubt of the very strong local opposition to what was proposed.

Cancer Research UK

My main conversations were with the Cancer Research UK representatives. I began with Helne George and Steve Palmer. Palmer did most of the talking.  His line throughout was that was that much needed  medical research would be undertaken. He absolutely refused to address the question of the wishes and needs of the residents.  I emphasised that residents (apart from a few with  animal rights objections) did not have any quarrel with the research being carried out. Rather, the quarrel is with the research centre being cited in a most  inappropriate site , which should be used to provide housing and other  facilities for the area.

Palmer peddled the line that the centre must be on the site  because it was ideally suited to bring everyone together: researchers on site, major hospitals and researchers on nearby sites and those from further afield because of the very good communications coming into the area – rail, tube etc.  I pointed out that the MRC Mill Hill site – 47 acres as opposed to the three and half acres  at Brill Place – was a twenty minute journey by train from St Pancras/Kings Cross and that, consequently, it was difficult to see how a twenty minutes journey could be such a handicap to the operation of the centre if it was built there. The only response I got to this was a repetition of the “it must be on the Brill Place  site line because etc.”.

I next raised the question of post hoc consultation and  pointed out that if consultation was to mean anything, it had to be before any decision was made.  Palmer’s  only answer was to claim that there was not time to consult before the entering the bid process. I responded by telling him it was this type of arrogance which made a mockery of democratic participation. This was met with a display of petulance – metaphorically he stamped his foot – and he accused me of bullying him.

When I asked how the consultation was to proceed after the “meet and Greet” sessions, the PR minder, Lara Alden, stepped in, and under sustained questioning said, said that the format of the further consultation had not been decided, that she could give no time scale for the rest of the consultation and no idea of how the feedback from the residents would  be assessed.

I made the point that Camden residents were only too familiar with bogus consultations, this being a favourite ploy of Camden Council. I suggested that the opinions  of the residents should be (1) made public with the sources available to the public for inspection and (2) a vote be held of the residents to ascertain whether they wanted the medical centre. This went down like a lead balloon.

I then spent the better part of half an hour talking to the CEO Harpal Kumar. That was more productive. I gleaned this information:

1. No contracts have signed as yet. Contracts for the sale of the land have been exchanged and should be signed within three weeks.

2. A science planning group has yet to decide what work should done on the site.  Kumar refused to give any time scale before they reported.

3. No architects have been appointed or will be until the science planning group reports.

4. Kumar refused to give any estimate of when the planning application would be submitted.

5.  Kumar claimed that he did not know of any pre-planning meetings held with Camden planning officers before the bid was tabled. (Camden planning dept have told me meetings were held with all prospective bidders).

6. Since the medical centre was announced by Gordon Brown in November, two meetings have been held between consortium representatives and Camden politicians and officers. These were:

a. A meeting in late December with Keith Moffitt and  Moira Gibb from the council.

b. A meeting in January with members of all the Camden political parties with councillors.

The meetings were supposedly to put the consortium’s case to Camden.

7.Prompted by me,  Kumar rashly said that the consultation was not going to be a sham. I then asked him whether that meant the proposal for the centre would be dropped if it met with widespread opposition from the residents. Kumar refused to say that it might be dropped in such circumstances. I made the point that if the  consultation was to be meaningful it had to carry with the possibility that the centre would not be built if local opinion was strongly hostile. This was met with more waffle. It was the question which gave him  the most trouble.

7. Kumar refused to say what viruses would be kept at the medical centre. He even refused to confirm that there would be any viruses. I pointed out that leaving the matter uncertain was worse from his point of view than stating exactly what would be there. He seemed somewhat taken aback by this observation.

The Wellcome Trust

1.  The purchase of the land is being made by Wellcome and will be transferred to the consortium at some unspecified date. Until then it will be owned by Wellcome.

2. The Wellcome representative was unable or unwilling to comment on what would happen if planning permission was not given for the medical centre. In fact, she was distinctly reluctant to say anything.

UCL

1. UCL routinely receive substantial funding from Wellcome and the MRC.

2. Sir Paul Nurse (Head of bio-research at the Rockefeller University) holds no managerial post in the consortium, being solely in charge of the Science Planning Committee which is advising the consortium on what work should be undertaken at the centre.

2. In view of Paul Nurse’s involvement, I asked whether any of the Rockefeller institutions had any interest in the consortium. They were unable to say.

MRC

I tried without success to get:

1. figures for the amount of taxpayers money being put towards the purchase of the site.

2. The proportion of the cost of building the centre which would be borne by the taxpayer.

My persistent questioning on these points caused a good deal of consternation.

NB The MRC is taxpayer funded.

Robert Henderson 22 4 2008

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Document 16

My correspondence with Lara Alden of the consortium’s then PR company

Lara Alden

London Communications Agency

Middlesex House,

34-42 Cleveland Street,

London W1T 4JE

23 4 2008

Dear Ms Alden,

Following our discussions on 22 April, please provide answers to these questions:

1. What are the plans for the National Temperance site?

2. What will the consortium be doing to guard against an external terrorist attack and its aftermath, an aftermath  which would probably involve a  breach of bio-security?

3. MI5 have recently issued a warning that attempts are being made by terrorists to infiltrate  research establishments. What action will the consortium be taking to prevent this? Will everyone working on the site – that means anyone, whether employed directly by the centre or not – be subjected to security vetting?  (It is worth remembering that the recent attempted bombings in Glasgow were carried out by doctors working for the NHS.)

3. Bio-security is shown to be fallible all too often. The consortium intends to allow other people and organisations to work on the site. Who will have responsibility for bio-security?

4. How will the opinions of residents expressed during the consultation process be made public?

5. Will there be public access to the raw data relating to the opinions of residents collected during the consultation process?

6. Would the consortium be willing to hold a ballot of residents with the question to be put: “Do you want a medical research on the Brill Place

site?”

7. Were pre-bid discussions held between the consortium and Camden Planning officers?  Harpal Kumar claimed that he did not know of any, but Camden planning dept have told me meetings were held with all prospective bidders. Who is right?

8. Will the proposal for the centre  be dropped if it meets with widespread opposition from the residents. (If the  consultation is  to be meaningful,  it has to carry with it the possibility that the centre may not be built if the local residents do not want it)

9. In view of Paul Nurse’s involvement, will any of the Rockefeller institutions have any association, direct or indirect,  with the consortium?

10. How much of the purchase price of the site has  been met by taxpayers money passing via the MRC?

  11. What proportion of the cost of building the medical centre will be funded by the taxpayer via the MRC?

When the following information becomes available, please supply it to me immediately by email:

1. The format of the further consultation.

2. The time scale for the rest of the consultation process.

3.Notice of when the  sale for the sale of the land to the Wellcome Trust  has been completed.

4. Notice of when the title to the land is transferred from The Wellcome Trust to the consortium and the nature of the title to the land when that is

done, for example, will it be held by the consortium directly or by a separate corporate vehicle.

5. Notice of when the science planning group  has finished its work and the nature of its recommendations.

6. Notice of when architects have been appointed and their names.

7. Notice of when pre-planning discussion are held between the consortium and Camden Planning department.

8. Notice of when the  planning application has been  submitted.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Henderson

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Document 17

Dear Robert,

It was good to talk to you yesterday and thank you for sending in these questions. You have raised a number of prudent points and we will respond to these as quickly and fully as we are able to in these early stages of the project.

With regards,

Lara

Lara Alden

London Communications Agency

Middlesex House, 34-42 Cleveland St, London, W1T 4JE

Office:   020 7612 8480

Fax:      020 7612 8481

Direct:   020 7612 8495

la@londoncommunications.co.uk

http://www.londoncommunications.co.uk

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Document 18

Lara Alden

London Communications Agency

Middlesex House,

34-42 Cleveland Street,

London W1T 4JE

19 5 2008

email press-office@cancer.org.uk,harpal.kumar@cancer.org.uk

Dear Ms Alden,

I am still waiting for a substantive reply to my email of 23 April (copy below). As you have already had a month to consider  my questions, I think answers within the next few days would be reasonable.

Your reply should contain answers to those questions which permit of an immediate answer – the first set of 11 – and an indication of when answers to the others will be available.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Henderson

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Document 19

Harpal Kumar

CEO

Cancer UK

4 June 2008

Dear Mr Kumar,

Subject: The proposed medical research centre on the land behind the

British Library

As you will see from the correspondence below, the PR firm your consortium has appointed to represent their interests is failing to answer questions from local residents.

Most of the questions  in my email to Lara Alden I put to you during the Meet and Greet sessions held at the end of April. You were unable or unwilling to give answers. The London Communications Agency is doing the same, despite representing themselves at that Meet and Greet session as the agency to whom residents’ questions should be addressed.

If Cancer UK and your co-partners in this enterprise wish the consultation to be taken as a serious and honest attempt to gauge public feeling and supply information to the public, you will act to ensure the questions I have raised with Lara Alden are answered forthwith.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Henderson

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Document 20

4 6 2008

Dear Robert,

Apologies that you haven’t had a response to your questions. I have talked to LCA and they will get back to you by the end of the week.

Best Wishes

Steve

Steve Palmer

Head of Press

Cancer Research UK

61 Lincoln’s Inn Fields

London WC2A 3PX

Direct Line:           020 7061 8312

Out of Hours:        070 5026 4059

Press Office:         020 7061 8300

Fax:                     020 7061 8349

http://www.cancerresearchuk.org

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Document 21

Lara Alden Email 6.6.2008

Dear Mr Henderson,

With regard to your earlier emails, please find below responses to your

questions.

Lara Alden

Following our discussions on 22 April, please provide answers to these

questions:

1. What are the plans for the National Temperance site?

[Lara Alden response] No decision has been made on the future of the  site. Any final decision would need to be approved by the Government.

2. What will the consortium be doing to guard against an external terrorist attack and its aftermath, an aftermath which would probably involve a breach of bio-security?

[Lara Alden response] It is not appropriate to discuss security matters of such a sensitive nature, although you can be assured that appropriate arrangements will be in place.

3. MI5 have recently issued a warning that attempts are being made by terrorists to infiltrate research establishments. What action will the consortium be taking to prevent this? Will everyone working on the site – that means anyone, whether employed directly by the centre or not – be subjected to security vetting?  (It is worth remembering that the recent attempted bombings in Glasgow were carried out by doctors working for the NHS.)

[Lara Alden response] We are not aware of any such specific warning over our project.  It is not appropriate to discuss security matters of such a sensitive nature, although you can be assured that appropriate arrangements will be in place.

3. Bio-security is shown to be fallible all too often. The consortium intends to allow other people and organisations to work on the site. Who will have responsibility for bio-security?

[Lara Alden response] All the members of the UKCMRI have an excellent record on bio-security and health and safety, and are committed to operating to the highest standards.

It is not correct that the site will be used by anyone other than those working for the UKCMRI organisation.

4. How will the opinions of residents expressed during the consultation process be made public?

[Lara Alden response] We have already held some early events with the local community.  There will be more activity of this nature as plans are drawn up and before any formal consultation necessary for the planning application is conducted.

5. Will there be public access to the raw data relating to the opinions of residents collected during the consultation process?

[Lara Alden response] We will make some consultation reports available, as appropriate, but these will need to comply with Data Protection Law relating to individuals’ details.

6. Would the consortium be willing to hold a ballot of residents with the question to be put: “Do you want a medical research on the Brill Place site?”

[Lara Alden response] No.

7. Were pre-bid discussions held between the consortium and Camden Planning officers?

Harpal Kumar claimed that he did not know of any, but Camden planning dept have told me meetings were held with all prospective bidders. Who is right?

[Lara Alden response] There were no formal pre-bid discussions with Camden Planning officers and we’re not aware of any informal discussions.

8. Will the proposal for the centre be dropped if it meets with widespread opposition from the residents. (If the consultation is to be meaningful, it has to carry with it the possibility ?

[Lara Alden response] It would be inappropriate to pre-empt the decision of the planning authority.

9. In view of Paul Nurse’s involvement, will any of the Rockefeller institutions have any association, direct or indirect, with the consortium?

[Lara Alden response] Since UKCMRI will be a world-leading centre for medical research we imagine many institutions from around the world will want to be involved with it, but we are not anticipating any specific involvement from Rockefeller.

10. How much of the purchase price of the site has been met by taxpayers money passing via the MRC?

[Lara Alden response] The MRC has paid £47million towards the purchase of the site.

11. What proportion of the cost of building the medical centre will be funded by the taxpayer via the MRC?

[Lara Alden response] It’s too early to give a specific answer to the question of how much money the MRC will contribute to the final cost of the building.

When the following information becomes available, please supply it to me immediately by email:

1. The format of the further consultation.

2. The time scale for the rest of the consultation process.

3. Notice of when the  sale for the sale of the land to the Wellcome Trust  has been completed.

4. Notice of when the title to the land is transferred from The Wellcome Trust to the consortium and the nature of the title to the land when that is

done, for example, will it be held by the consortium directly or by a separate corporate vehicle.

5. Notice of when the science planning group has finished its work and the nature of its recommendations.

6. Notice of when architects have been appointed and their names.

7. Notice of when pre-planning discussion are held between the consortium and Camden Planning department.

8. Notice of when the planning application has been submitted.

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Document 22

 Lara Alden

London Communications Agency

Middlesex House,

34-42 Cleveland Street,

London W1T 4JE

8 June 2008

Dear Ms Alden,

I have these comments to make on your responses to my questions of 23

April (a copy of your email is  directly below my response)

Bio-Security – my questions 2,3

You claim “It is not correct that the site will be used by anyone other than those working for the UKCMRI organisation. ” Let me quote from a document issued by the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills

(DIUS) entitled “The BlISS Project Concept and Vision” which I obtained using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA):

“There  will be dedicated space for technology transfer and additional lab space to enable the findings of research teams within the Centre to be developed and translated into clinical applications by scientists from “pharmaceutical companies and other partners” (Under the heading “The proposed facility” Are you saying the DIUS document is wrong? If not, then my statement that outside organisations will use the site for research is correct. If it is correct, please let me know exactly who will have responsibility for the bio-security involving the ” pharmaceutical companies and other partners”.

As for your general unsupported assurances, every research centre says the same thing, yet we have regular lapses in bio-security. Why should we believe this research institution would be 100% secure?

Consultation – my questions 4,5,6,8

It is clear from the answers you have given that no proper thought has been given to consultation. Consider these facts:

1. The Consortium failed to develop a  detailed plan  for consultation before the sale was agreed and six months after the sale was agreed no plan has been developed. This suggests that not only was the consultation never intended to be a serious enterprise,  but that it only became a live issue once it became clear there would be serious local opposition to the project.

2. The Consortium is unwilling to release the raw data collected. (This data could be made anonymous and thus avoid Data Protection Issues)

3. The Consortium is unwilling to hold a ballot of local residents.

Perhaps most telling was your evasive response to my question no 8, viz:

[My question] “Will the proposal for the centre be dropped if it meets with widespread opposition from the residents. (If the consultation is to be meaningful, it has to carry with it the possibility?”

[Lara Alden response] “It would be inappropriate to pre-empt the decision of the planning authority. ”

I dare say that is a jolly good answer to some question, but it is no answer to my question.  The consortium’s decision to proceed or not to a planning application for a project which is opposed by the local residents has nothing to do with the planning department. It is simply a decision for the consortium. Please answer the question I posed.

The sale of the land to The Wellcome Trust

At the Meet and Greet session I attended in late April I was led to believe the sale of the land to the Wellcome Trust would take place within three weeks. Has this happened? If  not, what is the hold up?

It took you nearly seven weeks to answer my questions and you have only done so after several minders plus a complaint about your failure to answer within a reasonable time to the CEO of Cancer UK, Harpal Kumar. That is very bad PR work. Please do not be so tardy in future.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Henderson

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Document 23

UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation

MEDIA RELEASE

STRICT EMBARGO: 00.01 Wednesday 5 December 2007

Prime Minister Gordon Brown backs future

world class medical research centre in St Pancras land sale

The Government has thrown its support behind a unique £500m medical research partnership that will bring together the country’s best scientists to bolster the battle against disease and improve health.

The creation of the UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation (UKCMRI) in the heart of London was announced by the Government- funded Medical Research Council, Cancer Research UK, The Wellcome Trust and UCL (University College London). This will be supported by the sale of Government land on the former British Library site to the project.

The Prime Minister said: “We strongly support plans to create Europe’s leading centre for medical research in the heart of London. It will maintain Britain’s position at the forefront of global medical research, strengthen the UK economy and, through its links with the NHS, has huge potential to change patients’ lives. “By taking groundbreaking scientific discoveries right through to treatment, I expect that the 1,500 staff who will be part of this project will develop many of the cures, vaccines and drugs from which the NHS and its patients will benefit in years to come.”

The centre, expected to be ready by the end of 2013, will be located next to the British Library and the newly opened Eurostar terminal at St Pancras. The centre will undertake cutting-edge research using the latest technology to advance our understanding of health and disease. It will have state-of-the-art scientific facilities and infrastructure and access to teaching and specialist hospitals. Its world-class research will lead to the new treatments, which the NHS will be able to trial and adopt.

The Nobel Laureate, Sir Paul Nurse, President of Rockefeller University, New York, will lead the scientific planning of the centre to determine the shape and direction of the future research work to be carried out and the facilities that will be needed to enable this. Through links with London hospitals, Sir Paul Nurse’s team will strengthen collaboration between the research community and the NHS.

Sir Paul said: “I’m delighted to be leading the committee to define the scientific vision for this new centre. This exciting collaboration is one of the best opportunities for British science. Britain already leads the world in many areas of medical research and this will further strengthen its international reputation.”

The development of UKCMRI will also compete and collaborate with other global hubs of scientific and medical excellence such as Biopolis in Singapore; The Allston Initiative at Harvard in the US; and the Shanghai Science-based Industrial Park in China.

UKCMRI will gather science teams from the MRC’s National Institute for Medical Research, the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute and UCL, working closely with researchers located in surrounding universities and research intensive hospitals. The Wellcome Trust will fund scientists working at the centre adding to the interdisciplinary mix.

By bringing the research capacity of the partner organisations together, the work at the UKCMRI will be able to advance scientific understanding and allow the development of treatments to tackle and overcome the biggest healthcare issues we face both in the UK and the developing world. These include threats posed by viruses such as ‘flu and HIV, bacterial diseases like meningitis and tuberculosis and all diseases arising from modern lifestyles including cancers, stroke, heart disease and diabetes.

An important part of the mission of the centre will be to train future generations of medical scientists equipped to translate the findings of research into health benefits to the population. It is anticipated that up to 1,500 researchers and support staff will work at the centre, which is expected to open in 2013.

The partners will work with the local community on the plans and shape of the UKCMRI. The centre will develop activities to communicate with members of the public and promote science education among local children, demonstrating the exciting prospects a career in research holds. The proximity to the British Library will help to engage people in the excitement and discussion around scientific research and its role in society.

The chief executive of the Medical Research Council Sir Leszek Borysiewicz said: “The UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation will form a hub for innovation and excellence at the heart of this great city. This centre will be of crucial importance to the UK’s plans to ensure that medical research findings are turned into benefits for patients and the economy as efficiently as possible. UKCMRI will not only bring together academics and clinicians but also offer opportunities for industry to work with and alongside our researchers. This will be enhanced by relocating the technology arms of Cancer Research UK and the MRC to this site.”

Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, Harpal Kumar said: “This world class scientific collaboration will accelerate our understanding of cancer. Cancer has a huge impact on all of us — it affects 1 in 3 of the UK population — so it is important that we aim the best scientific minds at this challenge. Bringing together our leading research organisations in this effort will allow scientists to collaborate widely as well as share cutting-edge resources and knowledge. All of this will help to fuel the ideas and inspiration that lead to scientific breakthroughs, helping us to understand cancer better and deliver better cancer treatments. This project will bring together some of the best scientific minds in the world from across many disciplines and engage people through their support.”

The director of the Wellcome Trust, Mark Walport added: “This site  provides the UK with a unique opportunity to establish a new world-class centre for medical research. A key focus of the centre will be to ensure that new discoveries and technological innovations lead to health benefits. We are delighted that Sir Paul Nurse has agreed to lead the scientific planning of the centre. The location of the centre adjacent to the British Library and a national and international communication hub will be key to the success of the centre – medical science and science communication must be pursued in a global context. But we are also committed to engage with the local community during the planning of the centre – this centre will be an important part of the local community.” The president and provost of UCL, Malcolm Grant said: “We are thrilled that our combined vision to create a world-leading centre for medical research can go forward. Our involvement builds on UCL’s role as one of Europe’s largest and most productive centres for biomedical science and we are confident it will further and enhance the innovative research that already goes on here and with our partner hospitals. Every organisation involved in this bid is a world leader in its field, driven by the aspiration to make advances in medical research that irnprove and save lives. Our individual contributions to medical advancement have been significant. Our combined contribution will be formidable.”

A formal process is now underway to find architects, designers and engineers to design the proposed world-leading centre for medical research near St Pancras.

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Document 24

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 atthat time the bid was £118 million.

http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.com/pa/cm200708/cmselect/cmdius/185/1 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 strengthenthe 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.

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Document 25

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

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Document 26

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 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

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Document 27

From: [40]

Sent: 29 November 2007 11:49

To: HOLGATE NICHOLAS

Cc: STEPHENS JONATHAN: FERRERO MARK;[40] MARTIN

LINDA

Subject: RE: British Library land

Nicholas

Thanks for this. The SoS has seen your note and is content. Grateful if you could keep us updated on whether the PM will be announcing this next week as part of his science speech.

Many thanks,

R

Private Secretary to the Rt Hon James Purnell MP

Department of Culture, Media and Sport

2-4Cockspur Street, London SW1Y 5DH

Tel@ 0207 7211 [40]

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Document 28

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

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Document 29

To James Purnell

From Nicholas Holgate

Date

4 December 2007

cc Margaret Hodge

Gerry Sutcliffe

Jonathan Stephens

Mark Ferrero

[40]

BRITISH LIBRARY LAND

Issues: the sale of this 3.6 acre site; and the recycling of the proceeds to benefit DCMS causes.

Timing: urgent, albeit for information.

As you know, we have been marketing this site. The highest commercial bid was £105 mn. But a consortium of the Medical Research Council (MRC), Cancer Research UK, the Wellcome Trust and University College London have also entered a bid to re-site the Mill Hill research laboratory on this land and thus establish a world class interdisciplinary facility in central London.

2. Their final offer was £85 m. We have accepted the assessment of the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills that the public value’ in addition to the sum offered, in terms of increasing the pace of medical research and its practical application, is well worth a discount on a fully commercial sale price of £20 m.

3. The Prime Minister has taken an interest in this proposal; and is expected to announce the deal tomorrow at a breakfast seminar (8-8.45 am).

4. I attach the final press release and some questions and answers.

5. We will be able to re-cycle some of the proceeds: notably, we can meet the tax bill for the proposed acquisition of a major collection; and he deemed to have met almost all of our disposals target for the next three financial years, thus underpinning your proposed capital allocations to the NDPBs.

Nicholas Holgate

Chief Operating Officer

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Document 30

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.

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Document 31

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

  •————————————————————————-

Document 32

From: Nanisha.Laudat@Clttons.com on behalf of

Ralh.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 speciac planning consent.

With overage, proposals varied considerably with each organisation willing to a greater or iesser extent to consider overage proposals based on the amount of accommodation for which planning consent is obtained above a benchmark, some on uniform bast5 and others with exclusions! reductions relating to the element of affordable.’ social housing.

Several organisations made specific proposals based on en 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 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 inf avour of price it 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

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.


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