February 2005 ~ How even the Chief Scientific Adviser was gagged by Number 10
An article from last March in the Independent reveals how Number 10 controls what is said to the press and media. In March, Ivan Rogers, Mr Blair's principal private secretary, told Sir David King to limit his contact with the media after he made outspoken comments about President George Bush's policy on climate change. He was told:
"....to decline any interview requests from British and American newspapers and BBC Radio 4's Today ....Sir David, who is highly regarded by Mr Blair, has been primed with a list of 136 mock questions that the media could ask if they were able to get access to him, and the suggested answers he should be prepared to give....
The leaked memo came to light after a computer disk was discovered by an American freelance journalist, Mike Martin, at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Seattle, where Sir David gave a lecture.
Mr Rogers' memo, written a few days before the Seattle conference, was aimed at limiting his exposure to questions from US and British media. While in Seattle, Sir David sat on a panel of scientists at one carefully stage-managed press conference, but his press office said he was too busy to give interviews afterwards to journalists. .." Read in full
When the Chief Scientific Adviser submits to his political masters' script even on a subject that is evidently very close to his heart, one wonders even more what "independent scientific advice" can amount to.