RS seeks to calm row over baroness

February 27, 2004

The Royal Society has appealed to its members to ignore the public furore surrounding the nomination of Baroness Greenfield when they vote on the admission of new fellows in May.

The Times Higher first revealed that her name had been put forward but would face opposition from some existing fellows. The society, which discussed the leak at its last council meeting, stressed that Baroness Greenfield's identity, like that of the other 534 candidates for fellowship, should have remained strictly confidential.

It issued a statement saying: "In view of the extraordinary interest that has been generated by the media reports, and following consultation with Baroness Greenfield, the council is confirming that she is a candidate for fellowship of the Royal Society."

It added: "The council profoundly regrets that such confidentiality was breached in this case."

The society intends to write to fellows stressing that candidates' details must remain confidential.

It said that the breach of confidence might have damaged the professional reputation of Baroness Greenfield, who heads the Royal Institution and is professor of physiology at Oxford University.

A spokesman for the baroness said she was convinced that very few fellows had made the allegations repeated in the press. The society said it had no knowledge of any threats to resign.

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