Institute 'threatened to end biologist's career if he did not resign'
SENIOR staff at a leading science institute threatened to end the career of a world famous biologist if he refused to quit his post, a tribunal heard yesterday.
Dr Prim Singh secretly recorded meetings with his bosses, at which they threatened to blacken his name with a poor reference and impound 15 years' worth of his scientific notes and data if he did not resign.
Directors at the Roslin Institute, near Edinburgh, told Dr Singh that he faced the sack after the rejection of his formal complaint against Professor Ian Wilmut, the man who created Dolly the sheep.
Dr Singh, an expert in genetic biology, told the employment tribunal the directors had said they would warn future employers of his "disruptive" influence if he did not drop his complaints of racial harassment against them and quit his post.
They also threatened him with civil and criminal action if he tried to continue with his research outside of Roslin, he said.
Dr Singh, 45, who was sacked in June last year, is claiming racial discrimination and unfair dismissal against Roslin Institute, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and Prof Wilmut.
The hearing in Edinburgh heard Dr Singh had decided to record a meeting with the institute's director, Harry Griffin, secretly because he "felt a little threatened". At the meeting - held to decide Dr Singh's future after the rejection of his claims against Prof Wilmut - he was offered a "less hard-hitting" reference if he would resign.
The tribunal was also told the institute offered him 37,500 - his annual salary - along with a good reference and access to his research if he signed a "compromise agreement" to drop civil proceedings against the BBSRC.
Dr Singh said:
"They were drawing my career to a close. They wanted to obliterate me. I would have to start from nothing. This was managed victimisation - thought out by intelligent people, premeditated and cold-blooded."
Dr Singh, who spent the last months of his Roslin career signed off with stress, went on: "This was beyond lawful remit. It was a Salem-style witch hunt. They had no evidence against me - but went looking for it. At this time, I was very unwell."
The tribunal continues, and Prof Wilmut will give evidence to the hearing at a later date.
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