Top tips on tough talking

May 23, 2003

The new chief executive of the Medical Research Council is going on a select committee survival course. Colin Blakemore has been summoned to appear before the Commons science and technology select committee soon after he starts his new job in autumn.

Incumbent chief executive George Radda was subjected to tough scrutiny last December, culminating in an acerbic report that accused the MRC of misleading its community and mismanaging its finances.

Now Professor Blakemore has been invited to attend a course, run by the government's Centre for Management and Policy Studies, that will focus on giving evidence cogently in the face of adversarial questioning.

Ian Gibson, chair of the science and technology committee, planned to use his first evidence session with Professor Blakemore to follow up the government's response to the MRC report.

He was also keen to raise concerns about plans to move the MRC's National Institute for Medical Research from Mill Hill in London to Cambridge.

Dr Gibson said he was angry about the lack of consultation. The MRC insisted the issue was open to consultation. A spokesperson said: "This is a 10-15 year plan. It is not something that is going to happen this year or next."

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