EXCERPT: The biotech industry must be rubbing its hands in glee at Drayson going into government. While Drayson was the head of the BioIndustry Association, it proposed sweeping new restrictions on the right to protest which would make it difficult to legally conduct a boycott or even protest against a corporation!
It also can do no harm to have the former head of a lobby group whose motto is 'Promoting UK Biotechnology', joining a ministry that will be dolling out bio-defence contracts. Drayson will also be ready to claim ministerial experience when Lord Sainsbury finally goes.
Blair appoints biotech lobbyist to government
If anyone's in doubt that the reins of government are firmly back in the hands of Tony Blair, then just check out the controvery over his recently announced ministerial reshuffle. (Blair defies critics in reshuffle: Promotions court controversy)
Amongst other enormities, Blair has just placed in the Ministry of Defence the man who has been tipped to be Lord Sainsbury's successor - Lord Drayson, the former head of the BioIndustry Association.
Like the Sainsbury-Blair relationship, the Blair-Drayson relationship has been mired in allegations of corruption and cronyism that center in large part upon the Ministry of Defence.
Both have given huge sums of money to Labour funds. Sainsbury gave Labour its biggest ever single donation in September 1997. Within a month he was made a life peer by Blair and a year later he was made Minister for Science. The former head of the Bioindustry Association, Paul Drayson, is also a donor and has also been given a peerage by Blair in highly controversial circumstances that led to accusations that Blair was "compromising the peerage system".
The controversy began when Drayson, previously an admirer of Mrs Thatcher, made a substantial donation to Labour while the Ministry of Defence was deciding who should be awarded a smallpox vaccine contract. Drayson gave a further donation of half a million pounds to Labour just six weeks after the PM made him Lord Drayson.
Controversially, the Blair government awarded Drayson's company, PowderJect, the smallpox vaccine contract without any competition. The contract was worth GBP32million and Drayson is thought to have made around GBP20m for PowderJect from this deal.
It later emerged that Drayson had been in a group of businessmen who had breakfasted with the Prime Minister in Downing Street at about the time Ministry of Defence (MoD) experts were meeting to decide what type of smallpox vaccine to buy. When the vaccine deal came to be finalised, officials discovered that Drayson had already made an exclusive deal with the manufacturer of the Lister smallpox vaccine, thus cornering the market in the vaccine the MoD had decided to buy.
It is also said that after meetings between Drayson's BioIndustry Association and a Treasury minister, Blair's Chancellor (Gordon Brown) uncharacteristically approved a tax reform which would save Drayson's company an immediate GBP2m on its tax bill.
After selling his company for a very considerable profit, Lord Drayson described himself as "a very successful guy through my own hard work".
Drayson's company, while he still headed it, was a financial supporter of the pro-GM Science Media Centre - a pet project of Lord Sainsbury's. Powederject's support for the SMC dried up following Drayson's departure. Drayson has also served on a working party of the controversial pro-GM lobby-group Sense About Science.
The biotech industry must be rubbing its hands in glee at Drayson going into government. While Drayson was the head of the BioIndustry Association, it proposed sweeping new restrictions on the right to protest which would make it difficult to legally conduct a boycott or even protest against a corporation. It also can do no harm to have the former head of a lobby group whose motto is 'Promoting UK Biotechnology', joining a ministry that will be dolling out bio-defence contracts. Drayson will also be ready to claim ministerial experience when Lord Sainsbury finally goes.
For more on Lord Sainsbury:
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