“These are high profile and damaging resignations. If Alan Johnson does not backtrack quickly, he runs the risk not only of destroying his own Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs but also of undermining the integrity of scientific advice across Government.
“It is absurdly thin-skinned to suggest that a critical editorial in a peer-reviewed learned journal involves campaigning against Government policy. If ministers behave like this, no self-respecting academic will want to advise them.
“The most convincing recipe for bad policy-making – in the drugs area as in mad cow disease – is for politicians to insist on scientific advice that meets their prejudices rather than the facts. If Churchill had taken that view when listening to Lord Cherwell, we would have lost the war. Scientists must be able to tell truth to power.”