Johnson under fire as more advisors resign

By Ian Dunt

Alan Johnson found himself under fire on two separate fronts today as he answered questions about Gary McKinnon’s extradition while more government advisors resigned in the wake of Professor David Nutt’s sacking.

The three further resignations from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) came after a private meeting held by the group today.

Mr Johnson attended the meeting but was unable to prevent the resignations.

Meanwhile, the home secretary faced serious questions about his ability to prevent the extradition of Mr McKinnon, a UFO enthusiast who hacked into Pentagon computers, to the US when he is questioned by the home affairs select committee.

Mr Johnson had previously insisted he could not legally stop the move, before offering Mr McKinnon an eleventh hour reprieve to assess new medical evidence. The move raised questions about the truth of his initial statements.

During the meeting he was forced to deny that Britain’s extradition reputation had gone to “hell in a hand basket”.

Earlier today, questions were still being raised about his decision to sack Prof Nutt, his chief advisor on the misuse of drugs, following an article and a presentation which included arguments for the reclassification of ecstasy.

This morning, Liberal Democrat science spokesman Dr Evan Harris told politics.co.uk: “The home secretary does not appear to accept what even the science minister, Lord Drayson, has acknowledged.

“Ministers need to abide by a code of practice when it comes to dealing with unpaid independent scientific advisers.”

Dr Harris is spearheading much of the criticism of Mr Johnson, after he admitted that the Home Office had been aware of the article Prof Nutt had written, despite apparent claims to the contrary in response to an urgent question in the Commons last week.

Mr Johnson responded over the weekend, insisting he had not misled the House.